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Wednesday, April 22 • 8:40am - 9:00am
Skylla and the Etruscan Sea-Monster: Artistic Elements in a Bronze Figurine from Cetamura del Chianti, Italy.

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Among the archaeological finds from the Etruscan artisans’ sanctuary at Cetamura del Chianti is a pair of bronze figurines, one partial and one complete, depicting a creature with the head and torso of a human female ending in a pair of fish-tails. These figurines served to decorate the handle attachments of a bronze wine-bucket, situla L, which was found in a well at the site, with an estimated date in first half of the third century BCE. Just what this figure represents is unclear. Its designation is that of a Skylla figure, often depicted in Greek art from the fifth century BCE onward as a half-maiden, half-sea-monster with dogs protruding from her waist and genital area. However, as this figure displays no canine iconography, and as Cetamura is a distinctly Etruscan site, it seems more suitable to categorize her among the several varieties of sea monsters and merpeople found in Etruscan art before and during the third century, the females of which are sometimes referred to generically as Skyllae. In this paper, I will examine the figure from Cetamura in comparison with a number of Etruscan and Italian artifacts which are similar in iconography, location, chronology, and function. This will ultimately demonstrate that, of the surrounding artistic and cultural influences, she most closely represents an Etruscan artistic tradition of sea-monsters, whose shapes, poses, and iconographic varieties persisted from the Archaic Period well into the Roman encroachments of the third century BCE.


Wednesday April 22, 2015 8:40am - 9:00am PDT
406 Wilma Sherrill Center