In Focus

Etruscan Jewelry: Orientalizing period

The first stage in the development of Etruscan jewelry is the so-called Orientalizing period from 730 BCE to 630 BCE. The distinctive local style that developed during this period, known as the Etruscan orientalizing style, is marked by two interesting aspects: surviving local traditions and the obvious oriental influence. The survival of local traditions is documented by the continuing popularity of shapes and forms that were well established in bronze jewelry during the Villanovan period. The experienced early Etruscan metalworkers had no difficulty translating these bronze shapes and forms into gold. Although gold requires different techniques than bronze, its malleability makes it comparatively easy to work. Fibulae, spirals, beads, pendants, and bracelets are characteristic products of this early phase.

During the 7th century BCE, one of the great centers of the Mediterranean world seems to have been the south Etruscan city-state of Caere (modern Cerveteri), where graves of immensely rich Etruscan families have been discovered. A number of pieces in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art appear to have originated from Caeretan workshops. Another important economic and artistic center of this period was Vetulonia, in northern Etruria. Products that have been attributed to workshops in this region are also well represented in the collection. As there was a constant exchange of luxury articles between the various Etruscan city-states, many styles and types occur in all parts of Etruria.

Adapted from

Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art, (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 32-33.

Related Multimedia

Symposium in conjunction with Golden Treasures of the Ancient World, May 30–September 5, 1999; "God is Zeus’ Child: Precious Metalwork in the Ancient World", Dr. Bromberg, Anne R., Curator of Ancient and South Asian Art, DMA; "Ur of the Chaldees: Inside Woolley’s Excavations at the Birthplace of the Biblical Patriarch Abraham", Dr. Richard Zettler, curator of the Ur exhibition; Curator in charge of Near Eastern Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; "The Gold of Ur: The Socioeconomic Significance", Dr. Denise Schmandt-Besserat, Professor of Art and Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Texas at Austin; "Eriphyle’s Necklace: The Power of Ornament in Ancient Greece", Mary Louise Hart, Assistant Curator of Antiquities, The J. Paul Getty Museum; "Etruscan Jewelry: New Discoveries, Ancient Functions", Dr. Richard De Puma, Professor of Art History , University of Iowa