Virginia Curry, EODIAH Graduate Fellow and UTD doctoral student in Humanities and Aesthetic studies, has been selected to present a paper at the Annual Conference of the Association for Art History, this April. This year’s theme is “Looking Outwards” and held at the Courtauld Institute of Art & King’s College, London. Curry will present on the panel “From the Phoenicians to the Celts; Toward a Global Art and Architectural History of the Ancient Mediterranean”. Her paper is titled, “Familia in Eternam: The Intimate Imagery of the Egalitarian Etruscan Couple”. Its abstract is included below.
Familia in Eternam: The Intimate Imagery of the Egalitarian Etruscan Couple
Virginia M. Curry
The sculpted and incised figures on the sarcophagi and urns of Etruscan affinal couples, spanning the period from approximately 600 BCE to 100 BCE represent the ancestors of the families aligned in what some scholars consider as essentially theocratic regional leagues throughout Etruria. The sculpted and incised figures on these funerary urns often appear quite animated and intimately portrait-like. They are usually inscribed with the full names of the husband and the wife, including the full names of each of their parents. These elements suggest that proof of the preservation of their lineage was intentional because it was a continuous, active and consistent practice during this period. My original catalogue of the 44 known couple’s sarcophagi and urns demonstrates the Etruscans intention to artistically portray themselves as fervently religious, affectionate and joyfully banqueting together in the afterlife. This motif was later included in many individual urn bases in Volterra where some of the names of the deceased were adapted from the Etruscan language to Latin, but maintained Etruscan nomenclature. I argue that the strong insignia of ancestral and family unity appears to have retarded the pace of their Roman acculturation through this intelligent new kind of blended society. It allowed the Etruscans the opportunity to synthesize their iconic motifs, inscriptions and ancestry with that of the Romans, as their Etruscan ancestors lent the power of their agency as the ancestors of the Romans.