Four unpublished painted Etruscan slabs recovered in Cerveteri on public display

Four previously unpublished painted Etruscan slabs, recovered in Cerveteri in 2019, are on public view. They will be on permanent display of the new Antiquarium of Pyrgi in the Santa Severa Castle.

On the occasion of the European Days of Archaeology, a presentation was made this morning by the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the Province of Viterbo and Southern Etruria, in agreement with the Guardia di Finanza leadership, of the recovery made by the Rome department of a group of four painted Etruscan slabs seized in Cerveteri during an operation to combat the clandestine trade in archaeological material.

The slabs recovered by the Guardia di Finanza enrich the recent repatriation of a large series of painted fictile slabs of the same type: they depict four new, unpublished scenes with ritual and mythological themes, in which the hand of excellent masters of ancient painting can be recognized, particularly in the faces of some of the figures.

After recovery, a series of technical and scientific analyses and conservation work confirmed that these are original Etruscan works to be dated in the last decades of the sixth century B.C., of exceptional historical and archaeological value, especially since they are almost intact, with a state of preservation comparable to the series found in Cerveteri in the 19th century, known as Campana and Boccanera, now preserved in the Musée du Louvre and the British Museum, respectively. The slabs tell stories such as the fight between Achilles and Penthesilea, in which the queen of the Amazons hurls herself at the Greek hero who defeats her; a heroine with a bow, engaged in a running race, wielding a branch (possibly the challenge between the huntress Atalanta and her future husband Melanion); the messenger of the gods Hermes, the Etruscan Turms, escorting a woman in the act of unveiling herself (perhaps part of a painting of the judgment of Paris); finally, a pair of haruspices at work: Etruscan priests skilled in interpreting the will of the gods.

Now thanks to the joint work of protection and enhancement of the Ministry and that of countering cultural crimes by the police, these masterpieces of Etruscan art have been returned to the state, and from today also to the public. In addition, the major restoration work carried out by the Superintendency has enhanced the vibrancy of the colors.

The slabs will find their definitive location, alongside all the other Ceretan terracottas of the same type, in the permanent exhibition of the new Antiquarium of Pyrgi, which the Superintendency is setting up in the spaces provided by the Lazio Region inside the Castle of Santa Severa (Santa Marinella, RM).

Four unpublished painted Etruscan slabs recovered in Cerveteri on public display
Four unpublished painted Etruscan slabs recovered in Cerveteri on public display

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