Controversy has surrounded the ancient Etruscan site of Murlo - near Sienna, Italy - ever since excavations were begun there in the late 1960s. Chief among the riddles is the function of the imposing building that dominates the Tuscan landscape and the reason for its destruction near the end of the sixth century B.C. "Murlo and the Etruscans" explores this and other mysteries in a collection of 20 essays by leading specialists of Etruscan and classical art, all of whom have been associated with the Murlo site. The first 11 chapters survey specific groups of Etruscan objects and challenge the view of Etruscan art as provincial or derivative. Interpretations of the magnificent series of decorated terracotta frieze plaques and other architectural elements contribute to an understanding of Murlo and related Etruscan centres. Plaques depicting a lively Etruscan banquet offer a way to detect differences between Etruscan and ancient Greek society. The remaining nine chapters treat various aspects of Etruscan art, often moving beyond ancient Murlo, both geographically and temporally.
They examine funerary symbolism, sculpted amber and amber trade contacts along the ancient Adriatic Coast; depictions of domesticated cats; votive terracottas of human anatomical parts and how they help in understanding Etruscan medicine; and the adaptation of Greek style, myth and iconography in Etruscan art.
Richard Daniel De Puma is professor of art and art history at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Etruscan Tomb-Groups: Ancient Pottery and Bronzes in Chicago s Field Museum and co-editor of Rome and India: The Ancient Sea Trade, the latter published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Jocelyn Penny Small is professor of art history and director of the U. S. Center, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Rutgers University. She is the author of Studies Related to the Theban Cycle on Late Etruscan Urns and Cacus and Marsyas in Etrusco Roman Legend. "