Bronze Cuirass [Object of the Day #119]

November 28, 2012



This heavy bronze cuirass served as a warrior’s chest protector.  Only the front part survives of what was originally a cuirass made of two pieces fastened at the shoulders and sides.  The surface is decorated with a raised geometric pattern of rows of triangles and dots.  The elements of the pattern meet at a vertical ridge, and concentric rows of ornament articulate the neck.

The cuirass, which dates to the last quarter of the 8th century BCE, is from a tomb at the Faliscan site of Narce in Italy.  The deceased must have been a warrior, as he was buried with his cuirass, as well as with two helmets, one of which is a crested helmet with decoration that is similar to that on the cuirass.  Two bronze horse-bridle bits found in the tomb suggest the warrior also had a team of horses and a chariot and was indeed a wealthy and prominent figure in his time.

The Faliscans lived in an area north of Rome and close to southern Etruria.  Their culture was distinct from but closely related to that of their neighbors, the Etruscans.   They spoke an Italic language unrelated to Etruscan, but used the Etruscan alphabet to write it.  They shared the art and technology of the Etruscans and practiced similar funerary rites.

Read Jean MacIntoshTurfa, Catalogue of the Etruscan Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Philadelphia 2005), p. 111, no. 45

Penn Museum Object #MS851
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