Abstract: The Ever Elusive Etruscan Egg


Representations of the egg in various media are certainly not lacking in Etruscan art. On bronze mirrors we frequently find large eggs referring to the birth of Helen. Rich orientalizing tombs of the seventh century BC often contained imported ostrich eggs, highly prized luxury items indeed. The well-known Tragliatella vase, according to some scholars, curiously displays a couple holding eggs. At Tarquinia, the painted tombs frequently depict an egg being passed from one banqueter or reveler to another, or held  out for display. Even one Caeretan brazier found in the archaic Tomba Maroi III at Caere contained eggs, which we can imagine were placed on the burning coals in the brazier during the funeral banquet. Scholars have suggested that the Etruscan egg was full of symbolic meaning. But what does this all mean? What exactly did the egg symbolize and how did it function in the rich realm of Etruscan funerary ritual?

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