THE ORIENTALIZING PERIOD


As Etruria grew in wealth and power, clusters of hut-villages coalesced into cities with rectangular, tile-roofed houses and sanctuaries. Municipal militias and governments oversaw the building of roads, aqueducts, marketplaces, and shrines. Such a large and stratified society called for greater organization, reflected in new systems of naming that added family or clan to the personal name.

Skyphos / Kotyle - Museum Object Number: MS2751Lavish narrative art was dependent on special materials from abroad (ivory, glass, stone for sculpture, painted pottery) and greatly influenced by Near Eastern styles. This era has thus been called the "Orientalizing" Period (ca. 730-580 BC). Customs, too, were affected by foreign contact, and Near Eastern modes of displaying kingly power were adopted by the chiefs of Italy.

Spirally grooved amphorae in coarse "impasto" clay, incised images of birds, painted patterns, as well as metal vases imitating the works of Phoenicia and Syria, are all characteristic of the new Orientalizing style. Vases of dark impasto fabric and native Italian shapes were gradually supplanted by wheel-made pottery painted in imitation of imported Greek wares.

Functional objects of bronze were decorated with monsters, animals or flowers from Near Eastern art. Stimulated by Greek imports, Etruscan artists began to develop figural and narrative art, with sculptures and paintings showing men or gods. The rendering of the human figure became increasingly natural. In imitation of the sophisticated products of the fabled East, artists created their own versions of monsters (sphynxes, and griffins), palmettos, and exotic plants.