Etruscan Satyr's Head Antefix - LO.920
Origin: Italy
Circa: 400 BC
Dimensions: 5.50" (14.0cm) high
Collection: Classical
Style: Etruscan
Medium: painted terracotta


The moulded head with furrowed brow, pointed ears, a long beard and moustache, with red and black painted details.

The temples of the Etruscans consisted of wooden constructions on stone foundations, as in early Greece. But while the Greeks soon started to build lithic temples, the Etruscan adhered to their traditional method of construction until the Roman subjection. As early as the 7th century BC, the wooden frames were already protected by the external agents with clay tiles and terracotta revetment plaques. Quasi-horseshoe-shaped reliefs, or antefixes, were placed at the ends of the cover tiles above the eaves running along the sides of the roof.

These protective revetments were at first painted, but soon they took the form of polychrome reliefs. Due to their fragility they frequently had to be replaced, although they were not allowed to leave the sanctuary precinct. Hence large quantities of architectural fragments have been preserved buried in special pits (bothroi) on the site.

For architectural terracottas the artists used coarse, unrefined impasto which was usually covered with a light coloured slip as a foundation for the painted decoration. The reliefs were usually made in moulds and fired after painting. It was then during the Hellenistic period that antefixes prevalently featured the faces of maenads or sileni (satyrs), such as this one illustrated. The custom of covering wooden buildings with coloured terracottas was dominant throughout Etruria, Latium and Campania from the 7th century BC up to the Roman period, and the town of Caere must have been a specially important centre in archaic and Classical times, given the archaeological evidence. - (LO.920)



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