In 1995, the first season of excavation at the Etruscan site of Poggio Colla yielded evidence for imported fine pottery; in particular, a few fragments of an Attic redfigure kylix appeared, with more to come over the subsequent three seasons.1 Ultimately, a significant proportion of the cup was recovered, including parts of both sides and its stemmed foot. After the recovery of the cup, isolated fragments from other Attic fine figural vases appeared elsewhere at the site, but after 20 years of excavation this Attic kylix, dating to the second quarter of the fifth century, remains unique for its comparative completeness and its clear religious context.2Here we explore that context and what it tells us about votive and ritual practice at Poggio Colla. We also delve into a broader investigation of the associations such an imported Attic kylix has in other contexts in fifth-century Etruria: Is its distinctiveness at Poggio Colla typical? In what other settings do such kylikes appear? What messages do its images convey to an Etruscan audience? Do they relate specifically to the cult at Poggio Colla?
Poggio Colla: Background
Excavations at Poggio Colla from 1995-2015 sponsored by the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project (MVAP) brought to light a major North Etruscan sanctuary, active from at least the late eighth century B. C. E. and destroyed around 200 B. C. E., most likely by the Romans.3Located 40 km northeast of Florence in the Mugello valley, the site lies on a fortified flattened hilltop of an acre and a half near the modern town of Vicchio. Evidence for at least four major phases of architectural history have been recovered. Following the earliest phase (Phase 0), characterized by the presence of huts, is a sequence of three periods (Phases 1–3) of monumental stone architecture.4Phases 1 and 2 concern us here as we seek to reconstruct the use and depositional history of the kylix.
Firm evidence for the first phase consists of part of a temple foundation, podium blocks, column bases, and, very likely, two battered antefixes (figs.1, 16). A line of foundation blocks for the podium, about 25 m long, parallel to one wall of a cella, supports four column bases along the northeast side and turns the corner to the south. A second line of blocks exists at the south. Very little is certain about the Phase 1 size and layout of podium, cella or columns, but it is obvious that this was a major architectural undertaking marking a radical change from a hilltop dotted with huts. Its orientation is north/south, a point that becomes relevant later in the history of the sanctuary. The construction of the temple dates to the end of the sixth or early fifth century B. C. E. on the basis of firm epigraphical evidence outlined below.
Sometime in the late fifth or early fourth century B. C. E., this first temple was destroyed, and some of its parts were modified slightly and interred elsewhere in the sanctuary. Several podium blocks, for example, form a foundation or leveling course for a terracing wall along the northern edge of the sanctuary. One of the fragmentary podium blocks was selected for a special purpose, as it was deliberately defaced and placed upside down next to and partly covering a natural fissure in the bedrock; with this podium block were several fragments of gold strands and a small ring, probably once decorating a textile (fig. 2).5
In Phase 2, a second religious structure, possibly also a temple but non-peripteral, replaced Temple I (fig. 3). Most of the in situ evidence for Temple I except for some of the foundation blocks was eradicated with this rebuilding. The Phase 2 structure is a small, square building (10 x 10 m) with a substantial courtyard (c. 11 x 23 m) in front, bisected by a low altar (4 x 1.75 m). A preparation layer for the second phase structure lies over much of the area covered by Temple I and its podium. The change in plan and a significant shift in orientation is accompanied, as mentioned above, by clear attention to the fissure, with the placement of the damaged podium block and, perhaps, an elaborate textile. The new orientation coordinates with the topography, as it is realigned to the rectangular shape of the arx. The location of the podium block that marks the position of the fissure at the west end of the courtyard lines up with both the center of the new altar and the central axis of the new rectangular building. Given the evidence for the importance of orientation in Etruscan religion in general, this coordinated directionality is undoubtedly intentional.6 The Phase 2 structure was probably built in the late fifth or early fourth century, and it appears to have remained in use until the early third century, when it was replaced by the Phase 3 rubble built structure.
The Attic Kylix
A total of about 50 fragments of an Attic Type B kylix were recovered, the majority in an area in the northeast corner of the new courtyard, near where the foundations of the podium for Temple I and the corner of the new courtyard meet (fig. 4). The fragments appear to have been burned, and the surface of the kylix is abraded. A portion of sides A and B, a very small section of the tondo, and part of the foot of the kylix are preserved (figs. 5, 6). The foot is of a familiar Type B profile with a fillet or champfer. On the basis of these fragments, the diameter of the cup is estimated to be c. 22 cm with a reconstructed height of 9.7 cm. The fragments with remains of figural decoration suffice to indicate the imagery, at least on the exterior. On the better preserved obverse, a nude youth with outstretched arms and clenched fists strides to the right. Beyond his right leg are two parallel lines, probably representing javelins, slanting back to the left. His opponent has fallen to the ground onto his right knee; his right arm with fisted hand is raised over his head, his left arm hangs down. The two athletes are clearly boxers; between the opponents and hanging in the background are himantes (oxhide thongs) suggesting the youths are practicing. At the far right stands a third youth,
a trainer or referee, as evidenced by the forked staff that he holds out in front.7 He is bent toward the boxers, leaning on his walking stick, and is further distinguished from the athletes by the himation wrapped around his body. The walking stick is identical in width and outline to the “javelins” at left.
The reverse preserves smaller portions of two nearly identical pugilists: the head and upper left torso and arm of the attacker, and the torso, head and raised right arm of the fallen athlete. At the far right, however, on a fragment that joins the obverse, the end of a walking stick is visible, and so there was undoubtedly a trainer here as well, to the right of the combatants as on the obverse. The interior preserves a small section of what may be the torso of another nude athlete or other figure and a portion of the meander band that encircled the tondo.
Soon after its discovery, Elfriede Knauer attributed the cup to the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy, a prolific cup-painter in the wider circle of the Brygos Painter.8The painter’s career covers several decades, from 490 to as late as 460,
which overlaps with the period of activity for Temple I. As Beazley sums up his work: “The Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy has vigour, but no subtlety, and most of his work is mechanical and repetitive.”9
In general, the work of the Painter is distributed widely throughout Etruria and northern Italy, with two sites, Adria and Vulci, preserving more than five examples.10 Of the painter’s 32 preserved cups with athletes, a third (11) show scenes that can be identified as boxing. Cups with boxers are documented at Tarquinia (1), Vulci (1), Adria (3), and Orvieto (3); one of the examples from Orvieto is certainly identical to the Poggio Colla kylix (fig. 7).11The remaining two from Orvieto12 and an additional three from Adria,13are all quite fragmentary and similar, if not identical, as well. Two cups with boxers have more elaborate scenes: the example from Tarquinia preserves two sparring boxers and others engaged in preparation for boxing. All athletes are standing. The example from Vulci preserves one pair of boxers posed very similarly to those on the Poggio Colla example along with a second standing pair behind the trainer; side B depicts two pairs of standing boxers on either side of a trainer.14Thus the output of the workshop and its repetitive scheme for representing boxing athletes were readily available to consumers throughout Etruria and beyond.15
The Cult and Its Votive Offerings
Understanding the role of the kylix in the sanctuary at Poggio Colla requires a review of what we know about the cult and the material memories of its practice at the site. Decisive evidence for the cult focus on the arx at Poggio Colla comes from inscriptions on a substantial stone stele (PC 15–070) that was incorporated into the foundation of the podium for the Phase 1 temple;16 the long inscription(s) preserved on its edges and written in “pseudo-boustrophedon” may have had as many as 200 letters, of which c. 120 are legible. The transcription and translation of the text are under study, and thus far the names of two divinities are recovered: Uni appears to be the principal deity, with some possible attention to her consort Tinia as well.17
Based on its placement and the date provided by letter-forms and punctuation, the stele must have been displayed in the sanctuary in Phase 0 before the monumental temple was built, and at least part of the text appears to record a set of rules for cult activity, requiring two of something for Tinia “in the place of Uni.” Adriano Maggiani dates the inscription to 525–510 B. C. E., in other words just before the construction of the podium foundation into which it was incorporated. Elsewhere, a fissure and its veneration in cult focused on Uni are best documented at Tarquinia.18
Several large dedications must have been on display either within the cella of the Phase 1 temple or on its podium;19 they were found collected together and formally interred in what had been the cella of the first temple and were nicknamed the “Inscription Deposit” (figs. 4, 8). The largest of these dedications is a sandstone cylinder (PC 05–166), about 70 cm in diameter, with a substantial boss or tenon on one of its faces. It appears to be either the top of a votive column or small altar, perhaps a component of the “hourglass shape.”20 It was interred upside down, with the tenon on top. Next to the cylinder are two statue bases positioned at right angles to one another and corresponding to the axes of the flattened arx. Both the smaller, pentagonal stone base (PC 05–122) and its larger, pyramidal companion (PC 05–105) can accommodate the display of a small figurine. The larger base bears the eponymous inscription “orthograde” and
preserves the name of an elite male: nakaśke velś[–-].21 The family name, probably Velaśna, is elsewhere attested as that of an elite family in the region of Arezzo, Cortona, Fiesole, and nearby Dicomano, thus close to Poggio Colla. The inscription is dated by Camporeale to the mid-fifth century B. C. E.; Colonna gives a wider
range from c. 450 to the early fourth century, providing a terminus post quem for the inauguration of the second complex.
In addition to the stone monuments, the Inscription Deposit included evidence of votives and ritual [fig. 9]: two archaic female statuettes in Etruscan dress (PC 14–001 and PC 14–040), neither of which fit into the statue bases; a bronze pin (?) (05–085) and gold strands (05–121), suggesting gold-embellished textiles as at the fissure; two bronze phialai (PC 06–027 and PC 06–038) and a broken bronze implement (PC 05–119, PC-019). Underneath one phiale were the bones of a young pig, suggesting that the placement of these objects was accompanied by ritual. Warden perceives both reversal, especially the upside-down placement of the large circular base, and directionality, the placement of the two statue bases positioned at right angles to one another and mimicking the north/south and east/west orientation of the Phase 2 structure, as our best evidence that the objects were interred at the same time as the Temple I debris was cleaned up, the
fissure was partially capped with the broken podium block, and the reoriented second phase structure was laid out and constructed.22
A third significant deposit is clearly connected with the inauguration of the Phase 2 complex. A bronze Schnabelkanne (PC 01–101) and a bronze ring (PC 02–102) (fig. 4,10) were found placed in a pit carefully oriented north/south, parallel to the west wall of the second phase building, apparently serving as a foundation deposit.23 The vessel is of Krauskopf’s Type VI, dating to 500–480.24
Can we make a case to include the imported Attic kylix with this list of deposits marking the transition from Temple I to the second complex? Although fragments of the kylix were scattered over an area of almost 7 m and in five principal locations, the majority, almost 35 fragments, came up close to the northeast corner of the podium where the foundations of the corner of the podium for Temple I and the courtyard of the Phase 2 complex meet. The fragments spread across the area of the podium of Temple I to the spot where the former podium and the foundation of the new courtyard meet on the south (fig. 4). All of the fragments were found at a consistent elevation, varying by only about 13 cm; considering the natural variations in the height of the bedrock, this difference is minor. The majority of the fragments appeared in a small feature of very dark soil just above the preparation layer for the new courtyard, and based on the evidence for burning on the fragments, the difference in soil color may have been the consequence of fire. When the kylix was placed, burned and possibly in fragments, on the Temple I podium, it was positioned on top of the preparation layer that covers the podium block and the fissure at the opposite end of the new courtyard, thus marking an early act of preparation for the construction of the complex that replaced the first temple. Because the Schnabelkanne, oriented north/south, is inserted next to the west wall on the courtyard side of the second structure, it belongs to the same chronological horizon. Both the bronze pitcher and the kylix were “antiques” by the time of their deposition, each at minimum more than half a century old, embodying memories of ritual at the first temple along with the inauguration of the second religious structure. Possibly used together in ritual actions, the bronze pitcher and the kylix may also be the tangible memory of a libation or libations poured to inaugurate the new Phase 2 structure. In sum, the precise context of the kylix links it to a sequence of deposits that encompass both “defoundation” and refounding—podium block capping the fissure, Inscription Deposit, and, in particular, the Schnabelkanne with bronze ring—and thus links it also to the rituals of closure and renewal at the transition between the two religious complexes (fig. 4).25
Our ability to reconstruct the findspot of the kylix and its stratigraphic relationship to the building phases at the site places it with a small minority of examples where we can plausibly claim that an imported Attic vessel has a documented role in ritual at an Etruscan site. As Reusser has pointed out, numerous sites preserve imported Attic vessels apparently used in cult-related commensal activities, but only very rarely can we with confidence postulate their precise role in sanctuary activities. To Reusser’s discussion of the limited evidence for such a reconstruction at other Etruscan sites, we can now add the Poggio Colla example.26
The Kylix in Etruria: Contexts and Images
The Type B Kylix
In this section, we consider the presence of the Type B kylix in contexts in North Etruria and the Mugello, including the appearance of the shape in other sanctuaries, in tombs and in imagery on a variety of media. Although Reusser has demonstrated that imported Greek vases are not exclusively found in elite contexts, evidence from both tombs and impressive residential/political settings assure us that such vessels are nevertheless prominent among the standard expressions of elite identity.27
Throughout Etruria, the kylix is the most common shape of all imported Attic pottery. In tombs at Bologna, 80 km north of Poggio Colla, kylikes are the most frequently found shape among Attic figural vases dating from 550–400 B. C. E.; although the number varies among the various Bologna cemeteries, the Type B red-figure kylix is the most common shape to appear in tombs overall.28
Another interesting indication of the preference for the Type B kylix shape at Bologna is that a greater number of Attic black-glaze, non-figural examples appear in Bologna tombs than in the Athenian Agora.29 In contrast to the two published examples from the Agora, almost a century apart in date, there are 16 black-glaze kylikes from Bologna tombs. Moreover, because there are slight variations of the shape seen in the Bologna group that are not paralleled in the material from the Agora, Govi suggests that the shape in black glaze was created and designated for the northern Adriatic markets by Athenian black-glaze pottery workshops.30 Although the painted scenes on red-figure kylikes were no doubt of tremendous appeal to Etruscan buyers, the shape itself must also have been extremely important, a preference to which Athenian potters responded.
Graves are not the only North Etruscan contexts where the popularity of the Attic kylix is documented. One residential example, at Gonfienti, near Prato and about 50 km from Poggio Colla, is a monumental building that produced many fragments of imported Attic black-glaze and black- and red-figure pottery; a type B kylix attributed to Douris is the most complete example.31 Several sanctuaries in the area extending to Bologna in the north and Chiusi in the south reveal a modest presence of imported Attic pottery, with a particular preference for the red-figure kylix.32
This picture differs in the North Etruscan Mugello region where Poggio Colla is situated, as only a very small number of red-figure Attic imports are documented at cult sites. Most recently, a small amount of imported Attic pottery appeared at the sanctuary to Tinia at Monte Giovi, although not in a clearly votive context.33As recently summarized by Kramer, a few of the excavated sanctuary sites within the Mugello preserve one or two fragments of sixth-fifth century Attic pottery, including kylikes, while some produce none at all.34 Thus Kramer’s work supports the view that the singularity observed at Poggio Colla is exceptional for North Etruria overall, but conforms to a more narrow regional norm.
The Type B Kylix in Images: Tomb-painting
Imagery can also serve to illuminate the role of the kylix shape in Etruscan culture and thus at Poggio Colla. According to Reusser’s lists, the kylix frequently appears in wall painting scenes; of 12 painted tombs at Chiusi and Tarquinia depicting kylikeia and dating to the sixth-fifth centuries, five include the shape; in those tombs where no kylikeion is depicted, at Chiusi, Grotte Santo Stefano and Tarquinia, 18 out of 34 preserve paintings that include kylikes.35Banqueters and dancing komasts holding kylikes suggest their use as drinking cups and for
drinking-related games like kottabos (fig. 11).36Although trusting imagery to reflect reality can be problematic, scholars generally agree that the Attic stemmed kylix had a place in “sets” of actual Etruscan banqueting equipment.
There is slimmer evidence from tomb paintings that the kylix was also used in ritual contexts. Well-known and enigmatic is the wall painting from the Tomb of the Barons at Tarquinia, dating to the end of the sixth century B. C. E. (fig. 12).37 Jannot suggests that there is wine in the kylix extended carefully by a male figure to a female figure with a tutulus; he believes the scene represents a libation to be
The Type B Kylix in Images: Etruscan Black-figure Pottery and Relief
At least one very well-known Etruscan black-figure amphora depicts the kylix shape in a scene of ritual in the late sixth-fifth century, and this vessel has been cited and discussed many times because of its unique character, including four inscriptions (fig. 13).40On side A, a satyr holding a machaira brings a goat to an hourglass-type altar, in front of which stands a man wearing a chiton and himation who extends a kylix in his left hand over the altar. Inscriptions name the satyr, thinaste mi (“I am Thinas”), using a play on the Etruscan word for a wine-pitcher or oinochoe. Over the man who holds the kylix is written erzke larth v(i)pe, which suggests Larth Vipe “prays,” presumably as he prepares to pour a libation.41 The latter inscription indicates that the kylix plays a role in the liquid libation, the pouring of wine from the cup.42Scholars understand the vase as a special commission and the scene as funerary, initiatory or Dionysiac in character, especially when the scene on the reverse, an armed dance competition, is considered in conjunction with the obverse scenes of sacrifice and libation.43
On a bronze relief preserving a scene of sacrifice from Bomarzo dating to about 500 B. C. E., one satyr-figure brings a kylix to another similar figure who holds a phiale over an altar (fig.14). These examples imply that wine features in the rituals depicted, and that the kylix was one of the shapes appropriate to hold it.44 The phiale held by the satyr-figure likewise echoes its use at Poggio Colla as testified by the two examples in the Inscription Deposit discussed above (fig. 9) and apparently left as a memory of ritual at nearly the same time as the kylix was interred for the same purpose.
We know very little about exactly how wine was integrated into Etruscan ritual, but two key texts assure us that it was. As recently discussed by Pieraccini, both the Zagreb Liber Linteus and the Capua Tile mention vinum several times, combining it with words for libation, sacrifice and offering.45In sum, this brief survey of the contexts for images of kylikes suggests that the shape had several roles connected with wine in Etruscan life, both in convivial activities and in religious ritual.
The Iconographical Context of the Kylix at Poggio Colla
In what visual context did the Attic red-figure kylix with its images of athletes appear to its viewers at Poggio Colla? To answer this question, we can consider the amount of competing “noise” from other artifacts and monuments in the sanctuary. The evidence we have, most of it already reviewed above, suggests that images of the human figure were rare at the site.46 Late, scrappy bucchero fragments found with the kylix fragments preserve abstract designs or no decoration at all.47 A bowl of grey fine ware is wholly undecorated. A small fragment of a black-figure open shape preserves a tantalizing fragment of two figures strug
gling, perhaps a satyr and maenad or Herakles and the lion or centaur (fig.15).48
Orientalizing and Archaic bronze figurines from the Inscription Deposit and elsewhere, including one complete male example, the head of another and four female bronze figurines in Etruscan dress, are three-dimensional but about the same height as the boxers on the kylix.49The most prominent preserved represen
tations of the human figure are the terracotta female antefix heads from high on the entablature of Temple I (fig.16).50
In a setting with a building and podium of roughly 25 x 10 m, these representations of the human figure are small and few. Instead, the visual context in which the kylix was used during the life of Temple I was dominated by objects in precious metal and stone: the bronze phialai and an oinochoe, bronze implement, gold-embellished textiles, worked stone for both statue bases and a substantial component of a column or, more likely, an altar. The nude male figures on the kylix are also distinctive, because the more realistic style in which they are painted contrasts with the archaic, abstract rendering of the figurines and antefixes. In another setting, one with many red-figure vessels such as in southern Etruria at Gravisca or Pyrgi, the significance of the figural imagery on any one vessel might be diminished, but at Poggio Colla the red-figure boxers stand out because there is little competing noise from other representations of the human form.51 What do these boxers signify?
Reusser’s meticulous survey of the contexts of Attic imports in Etruscan sanctuaries reveals only a small minority of examples where it is possible to posit a plausible link among divinity honored, vessel shape, iconography, and in a few cases, inscription.52He also points out that such an investigation is hampered at the outset because fully excavated and published sites where we know what divinities are honored along with a clear picture of the circumstances of deposition are extraordinarily rare; thus, the amount of information we have at Poggio Colla invites us to reconsider this question. Is it possible that the shape and iconography were selected specifically to celebrate the cult focus on Uni and, perhaps tangentially, on Tinia at Poggio Colla? To explore this subject fully, we review here the role of boxing and the history of its representations in Etruria to look both at the development of scenes in the Archaic and Classical periods and the apparent meaning of these scenes in various contexts.
The Figural Scenes on the Kylix in an Etruscan Ritual Context
Boxing in Etruria
Sport was a seminal part of Etruscan culture from earliest times (seventh century B. C. E.) and is widely depicted on tomb paintings, bucchero and painted pottery, situlae, stone stelae and reliefs, architectural terracottas, engraved mirrors and cistae.53 Among the “heavy” sports, boxing was by far the most popular; Jannot calls boxing the “queen of sports,” Thuillier, the “king.”54In his analysis of the athletic contests that accompanied Etruscan funeral games, Jannot points out that, while more rare in Greek imagery, boxing is depicted in “all funeral games.” Artists emphasize the violence, brutality, and, at times, bloodiness of the sport.55 According to Livy (1,35.5–7), at the end of the seventh century B. C. E. Tarquin the Elder organized games in Rome to celebrate his victory over the Latins, and the program included pugiles, boxers, brought especially from Etruria.
In general, Etruscan boxers can be distinguished from wrestlers by their clenched fists and more upright postures. They are often shown bare fisted during practice sessions, while during actual contests they protected their hands and wrists with thin strips of leather, himantes, as did the Greeks. Boxers are sometimes accompanied by an aulos-player. Referees or judges, figures whom some scholars identify as agonothetes, are present at athletic contests depicted in both Etruscan tomb painting and stone reliefs, holding a variety of types staffs, sticks or rods.56 A review of these referee figures and the boxers themselves provides a background for how Etruscans may have received the images of parallel figures on the Poggio Colla kylix.
Boxers and Boxing in Etruscan Art
There is no instrument preserved in Etruscan imagery that is identical to the forked stick held by the trainer/referee on the Poggio Colla kylix, although there are some cases where the end of a staff is divided. Sixth-century examples from Murlo include the left-most figure on the frieze plaque of the “assembly scene,” who stands holding a tall staff terminating in a short v-shape;57 J.–P. Thuillier has argued that this draped standing figure is a referee.58 A second Murlo example is the stick held by a bronze figurine of a referee who accompanies wrestlers. Here, however, the figure holds it by the two forked ends rather than by the “handle.” 59 A type of long, very thin, flexible rod used by some referees interacting with athletes in tomb paintings and reliefs is perhaps closest to the Attic forked stick, 60 while the bundles of tapering rods held by two different referees with runners and wrestlers on a Chiusine relief may represent this type as well (figs. 17, 26).61 The long staff, which appears as another attribute of the kylix referee and also at the far left of the boxers, very similar to the javelins at the right of the kylix scene, is likewise familiar from Etruscan scenes in painting and relief.62 Despite the absence of a precise parallel among preserved Etruscan examples for the referee’s forked stick on Attic imports by the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy, Etruscan scenes including referees holding a variety of types of rods, sticks or staffs were amply familiar to the viewer and appeared to convey authority in a ludic context.
Boxers in Relief and Wall-painting
Tomb paintings provide the most extensive evidence for the imagery of boxing in Etruscan art: of the 198 painted tombs throughout Etruria catalogued by Steingräber, 14 at Chiusi and Tarquinia preserve scenes of boxers and date to the late sixth through the second quarter of the fifth century;63 thus just under eight percent of painted Etruscan tombs known to scholars include boxers. In the majority of these cases, two nude boxers, often muscular and heavy, stand facing one another with feet on the ground, sometimes with one heel lifted; both arms are raised and elbows bent (fig. 19). At least one hand is fisted. In some cases, one or both feet are further off the ground, so that the figures appear to “dance” (fig.18).64 There is no preserved case of a tomb painting where one boxer sinks to one knee as on the Poggio Colla kylix. The boxer on the right in the Tarquinian Tomba del Citaredo holds his arms in a position close to that of the falling boxer on the Poggio Colla kylix, but with right arm bent at the elbow and held behind the head and the left arm extended in front; here, the position of the bent arm appears to be an aggressive rather than a defensive move. Further, the figure stands and faces his opponent rather than falling to one knee and twisting at the waist.65 In general, Etruscan images in tombs show a moment mid-fight rather than a stage near the end of the match where one contestant is apparently losing.
Bronze situlas with relief decoration such as the so-called Arnoaldi situla found in a fifth-century tomb in Bologna but surely an antique in that context, preserve earlier scenes of boxers. A pair of boxers, nude except for belts at the waist, stand face-to-face with arms bent and raised, fists nearly touching. A helmet between them may be the victor’s prize (fig. 20).66 The context provided by the other scenes on the situla includes a chariot race, a military parade and a deer hunt. Side C of the fifth-century stone relief from Chiusi mentioned above also depicts boxers, shown with a flute player and a masked phersu, who appear to “dance” by resting one foot on tiptoe with knees bent, as they raise their unfisted hands to one another (fig. 17).67
Boxers in Etruscan Vase-painting
Attic black-figure workshops were providing the Etruscans with vases depicting boxers from just after the mid-sixth century.68 Athletic scenes on Nikosthenic amphoras almost all include boxers, sometimes fighting on either side of a tripod or a large vessel (fig. 21). Of a total of 25 vessels with scenes of athletes listed by Tosto, 17 depict boxers, andtwo examples include other sports as well.69 All of the Nikosthenic amphoras thus decorated and with certain provenience are from Cerveteri in southern Etruria, although for many others there is a plausible case to be made for an unspecified Italian findspot.70 It is safe to say that Attic workshops catering specifically to the Etruscan market believed that boxing was a topic their customers sought, and they were correct.71
Boxing also appears on Etruscan-made vases in the late sixth century alongside the Nikosthenic products and those by the Perizoma group. An amphora recently attributed to the Painter of the Dancing Satyrs depicts burly, standing boxers.72 Their himantes are visible on their fists, with right arms raised for attack and left hands grasped at waist level. To the left stands a flute player; at right is a referee with a short rod, a type familiar from numerous images of similar figures in Etruscan relief and painting. Runners appear on the obverse.
In the early fifth century, the subject continues to appear on Etruscan pottery, mainly in the black-figure “silhouette” technique and dating generally to the first half of the fifth century.73 Recent studies by Paleothodoros, Paolucci and Scarrone are extremely helpful for recovering their meaning in early fifth-century Etruscan culture, contemporaneous with the Poggio Colla kylix.74 The Etruscan silhouette-style vases almost always appear in tombs alongside Attic imports.
A brief overview of the subject matter of the total image repertory on Etruscan black-figure vessels helps to contextualize the boxing scenes in Etruscan iconography. In general, the topics are limited, repetitious, and only rarely depict myth narrative. Of the latter, the most common subjects are Dionysiac: satyrs and maenads dancing, and a few examples of satyrs dragging an animal to sacrifice. Some mythical animals appear, such as centaurs and sphinxes. Typical subjects include nude or draped figures sometimes in conversation, youths and maidens dancing, male figures with or riding on horses, armed male figures, sometimes fighting, and contests that include discoboloi, jumpers with halteres, boxing, horse-related events, including riders and leapers, and armed dances. In some cases subjects are repeated on both sides of the vase, but there is no clear pattern to which subjects are linked. There are very few inscriptions other than one artist’s signature and those on the Dresden/Chianciano amphora discussed above (fig. 13).
Many scholars have offered interpretations of the silhouette-style imagery, noting that these vases are apparently almost completely absent from contexts that are exclusively cult-related.75There is much agreement overall that excerpts from the contests that seem to have played a part in both Etruscan funerals and civic ritual are featured. Based on a very few examples that juxtapose scenes from this roster of activities with allusions to animal sacrifice,76 some scholars conclude that these vases were likely also appropriate for the banqueting that accompanied many types of cult celebration, including initiation rites.77Because Dionysiac subject matter, including topics where satyrs or male figures dressed in satyr costume bring an animal to sacrifice, is also prominent, others see these vases reflecting more narrowly either Dionysiac celebration78and/or as the appearance of Dionysiac belief expressed in funeral cult.79 Although Thuillier does not address the iconography of the black-figure silhouette-style vases in any detail,80he points out the presence of widespread ludic subjects in both pottery and other media. He connects athletic competitions and associated scenes of processions and dances of satyrs or men in satyr costume with the Fanum Voltumnae pan-Etruscan games in honor of Tinia in the guise of Voltumna. Further, Thuillier links such activities, and thus imagery depicting it, to later rites in honor of Jupiter Capitolinus.
With this background in mind, we return to a discussion of images of boxers on these silhouette-style vessels and how they relate to those on the Poggio Colla kylix. In Scarrone’s lists of more than 450 examples of Etruscan black figure (her “Gruppo Tardo a Silhouettes,” c. 250 examples) and red figure (“technica a sovraddipintura,” c. 200 examples), seven preserve scenes of boxers, two of which are also discussed by Paolucci.81 All of the black-figure boxing scenes are on neck-amphorae or stamnoi, the most common shapes in these productions. Scenes of boxers do not appear on Etruscan-produced black-figure kylikes; such cups form only a small percentage of the output of these workshops. The few kylikes produced generally have no figural decoration except for a single figure of a youth in the tondo.82
Scenes of boxers are paired with a variety of other subjects on the reverse of stamnoi and amphorae, including 1) other boxers (fig. 22);83 2) another athlete;84 3) two warriors with a dog;85 4) a man on horseback (fig. 23).86 A final black-figure
example pairs a scene of boxers with that of a satyr dragging a goat to sacrifice and is discussed more fully below (fig. 24).87
Two examples stand out from the group because of the positions the boxers adopt: the stamnos Volterra MG 1505, with a man on horseback on the reverse (fig. 23), and the amphora Arezzo, Casa Museo Bruschi, depicting a second pair of boxers on side B (fig. 25). Typically, Etruscan boxers on these examples appear as they do in contemporary Etruscan tomb paintings, with both figures standing, arms raised, elbows bent, and facing one another. However, the Volterran and Arezzo examples instead depict a boxing pair very similar to the figures on the Poggio Colla kylix: the figure on the left stands with left arm outstretched above the head of his opponent and the right held out behind; the other boxer has fallen on his right knee, with the left knee bent. With the right arm raised over his head in a defensive posture, this fallen boxer replicates the figure in the same position depicted numerous times in red figure by the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy. The Arezzo example repeats the position almost identically, save for the absence of the ox-hide himantes held by the figure on the left.88
Although these two examples preserve boxing poses closest to those on the Poggio Colla kylix, one striking difference is the relative size of the two boxers. On the Attic kylikes, the boxers are not depicted at the same scale: the heads of the two combatants are at the same level, which creates the impression that the falling figure on the right is actually much larger, and, despite his advantage in size, is losing the match. In the Etruscan examples, where the fields on the amphora and the stamnos have much more height, the scale is consistent, with the result that the two figures appear to be more evenly matched physically, perhaps at the beginning or midpoint of the match, and the outcome of the contest less certain. In light of these close comparisons, it is again worth noting that three of the imported Attic kylikes by the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy that are identical or nearly so to the Poggio Colla kylix are from the proposed location of the Orvieto Painter’s workshop, to which Paolucci attributes the Volterra stamnos and the Arezzo amphora.89These similarities may reveal a case where Attic imports influenced Etruscan iconography.
In sum, the appearance of boxing as a subject in tomb painting, relief and on Etruscan ceramic productions is relatively rare, and there are no preserved examples of an Etruscan kylix depicting boxers; thus imports from Attic vase-painters made a significant contribution to the total number of boxing scenes in the first half of the fifth century in Etruria. Attic kylikes like those by the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy certainly must have resonated with Etruscan consumers and may even have influenced local ceramic artists. This Attic red-figure workshop continued a process that began with the sixth-century black-figure Nikosthenic and perhaps other productions discussed above, but now focused on the kylix rather than the amphora.90
Can we determine more precisely what the boxers on Etruscan black figure signify? One of the vase images of boxers listed above links the scene of the athletes with one of sacrificial ritual: the stamnos Chianciano Terme 229519 depicts a satyr, or a male figure in satyr costume, grasping a goat by the horn, an excerpt from a “pre-sacrifice” scene such as on the Dresden/Chianciano example (figs. 13, 24).91 Given how rare these pre-sacrifice scenes are, this example is worth considering in detail because of the apparent role of the Poggio Colla kylix in religious ritual at the site. Although most boxing scenes on Etruscan vases exclude any setting elements at all, in this case a staff, knobby and with a curved “handle,” appears between the two standing contestants. In other media, an object placed in this space is sometimes identified as the prize for which the contestants compete, as on the Arnoaldi situla discussed above (fig. 20).92 To interpret the black-figure scene, we expand on the earlier discussion of staffs and those who hold them to define further what this particular scene might connote.
As discussed above, in Etruscan ludic scenes figures who hold staffs, whether a short baton, a long, flexible undulating type, a long, slim, straight staff, or cane-like rods, sometimes knobby, and sometimes with curved handles, do not participate in contests but appear to be regulating them. Jannot and Thuillier point out that these staffs are symbols of authority for magistrates and for the roles such individuals play, including as priests, civic officials, referees and judges at athletic contests.93 Figures who hold these implements are dressed similarly, nearly always with a tabenna and often with a pleated garment under
neath. Scenes where individuals filling the role of judge or referee hold canes with curved tops similar to that on the stamnos Chianciano Terme 229519 include two figures on the judging platform on a Chiusine relief, although in these cases the profile of the “cane” is straight rather than knobby (fig. 26). The referee figure depicted in the Tomba Poggio al Mora touches a runner with a long flexible rod in his right hand but holds a similar “cane” in his left (fig. 18).94
Because the associations of this type of “cane-staff” are with the apparent organizers and officials running the games, Jannot argues that the cane on the Chianciano Terme stamnos cannot be a prize for the boxing match; the non-elite social status of the professional boxers would make it impossible for them to fill such roles. Instead, the cane represents metonymically the overarching authority of the organizers of such games in both funerary and civic contexts. Likewise he sees the folded mantle or tabenna on a stool between the two boxers depicted in the Tomba della Scimmia as a similar symbol (fig. 19).95 For Jannot, the reference to animal sacrifice on side A of the Chianciano stamnos in combination with the staff between the boxers on side B projects the fact that elite funerals, including the contests that accompany them, become in fact civic as well as private events.96 Further, Jannot interprets the imagery on this vase as connecting the role of boxing and other athletic competitions in funeral games with civic religion more generally, as an assertion of the superior role of elites in both the religious and political spheres. Ultimately Jannot proposes that elite funeral games involve the entire community and thus link the private with the public, civic sphere. Both clothing and various types of staffs, rods and canes are symbols of authority, and vessels in the tomb such as the Chianciano Terme stamnos, with decoration that evokes these games and celebrations, project the unity of authority across both civic and funerary spaces.97
The majority of the evidence considered reveals that in fifth-century contexts, the iconography of boxing in Etruscan art such as tomb painting and local pottery complements burial ritual; there are tantalizing hints that some images may express the links between funeral and civic cult. As stated above, however, there is very little evidence in general with which we can test the idea that Etruscan consumers selected Attic vessels for use in particular sanctuary settings to complement either the deity honored or cult activities at the site.98 Can we make a case for any kind of link among Uni and, to a lesser extent, Tinia, and the red-figure boxers at Poggio Colla?
While there is no obvious link between Uni and athletics in general or boxing in particular, two sons of Tinia, Pultuce (Pollux/Polydeukes) and his brother Castur (Castor), labeled collectively in Etruscan inscriptions as tinas cliniiar or “sons of Tinia,” were acknowledged as outstanding athletes. Pultuce was particularly known for his boxing expertise, Castur for horsemanship. Labelled images of them appear by the fourth century, primarily on bronze mirrors, and many representations are generic, showing them as identical, mirror images of each other.99 In some cases they are identified individually; even when both are apparently depicted together, there can be a single inscription identifying just one of the twins.100
One narrative scene in which Pultuce regularly appears on mirrors and cistae is his boxing match with Amykos/Amuce, king of the Berbryces in Bithynia that occurred during the Argonauts’ voyage to Kolchis.101 Preserved examples do not show the opponents fighting; the favored image is after the fight, where Pultuce ties Amuce to a tree wearing his himantes, as seen on the well-known mid-fourth-century Ficoroni Cista.102 Another mirror shows the moment before the fight, with Pultuce standing behind the seated Amuce, both wearing himantes (fig. 27).103 Here a nude Pultuce (labeled Poloces) stands in a contrapposto pose, one hand raised, one down, both fitted with himantes. Seated and looking up at him is a figure labeled Amuces, similarly nude but wearing himantes. While there are no labeled mid-fight boxing scenes, it is clear that the Etruscans knew the story and revered this son of Tinia as a champion boxer by the fourth century. The youths appear together walking with horses in a variety of media from the late fifth-second centuries; in two such cases, only Castur is identified by inscription, supporting the idea that he is known for his prowess in the equine realm.104
There is evidence for the tinas cliniiar as objects of cult in Etruria as early as the late Archaic period. The much-discussed kylix by Oltos depicting the gods on Mt. Olympus and found in a tomb at Tarquinia is inscribed with a dedication from venel atelinas to the tinas cliniiar.105 Thus in southern Etruria the divine twins may have had cults dedicated to them at the time the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy painted and exported his kylikes to Poggio Colla and other sites in northern Etruria. It is not hard to imagine reading the kylix imagery as Pultuce engaged in defeating his physically larger adversary, where the total defeat is anticipated by the defensive position of the right-hand figure, but there is no evidence that the Etruscan consumer did so.106 In fact, it is an interesting indication of an adjustment in the social position of athletes in Etruscan society that in the fourth century, Pultuce was heralded for his boxing prowess. In ancient Greece, boxing and athletics in general were standard elite activities for youths and adult males; Etruscan athletes, however, were of lower social status than the elites who regulated and watched contests.
There is little doubt that Etruscan black-figure vessels primarily served a function in tomb cult, and Jannot and Paleothodoros make slightly different cases that these vases also preserve iconographical echoes of civic religion. Certainly the ludic activities depicted, including wrestling, running, boxing, horseracing, and Pyrrhic dancing, are associated with Etruscan funerals and were also elements of Etruscan civic cult. There is no evidence, however, for such games specifically associated with a cult of Uni. Perhaps relevant to cult at Poggio Colla is the literary testimony that performance by males dressed as satyrs along with boxing contests apparently carried forward in the Roman cult of Jupiter Capitolinus. Boxers on an imported Attic kylix could complement those contests if they were part of fifth-century cult practice that included Tinia at Poggio Colla. At this point, our evidence for how Tinia may have been honored at Poggio Colla is too obscure and tentative to offer tangible support for such a conclusion. There is little evidence to support the idea that fifth-century Etruscans read the boxers on PC 98–050 as one of the tinas cliniiar.
Reusser’s work confirmed that Attic imports are present in general at Etruscan sanctuaries, used as dedications, in rituals, and in commensal activities associated with cult celebration. The fact that we have only one Attic Type B kylix at Poggio Colla tells us that this was not a common drinking cup in sanctuary banquets at the site. Having reviewed the evidence for its context and the appearance of the kylix in depictions of libations, we conclude that its function at Poggio Colla was in fact cult-related. Possibly the kylix coordinated with the bronze Schnabelkanne to mark with a libation a key moment in sanctuary history. Despite its uniqueness at the site, its iconography was likely familiar to an Etruscan audience; the kylix imagery would have evoked well-known contests that were held in celebrating both funerals and civic cult, as well as the authority that governed them. There is no special relationship, however, between the iconography and cult practice related to Uni. Although boxing apparently played a role in Etruscan ritual connected with Tinia at some point, there is no evidence that such activities took place at Poggia Colla. The visual formulas used for depicting boxers and the magistrates who oversaw ludic activities were familiar to a North Etruscan audience in both imported and local material culture and these boxers in particular had a visible role in a significant ritual at the site.
Earlier versions of this work were presented at conferences in Lisbon and Vienna in 2017, and at the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Boston in 2018. We thank the Directors of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, Greg Warden and Michael Thomas, for their help with and enthusiasm for this project. Michael Thomas and Jess Galloway were extraordinarily helpful in determining the context of kylix fragments. In addition, warm thanks go to Dott. Susanna Sarti of the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per la città metropolitana di Firenze e le province di Pistoia e Prato for her continuing support for this project and our work in general. Gretchen Meyers, Director of Materials, Phil Perkins, Bucchero expert and NW Slope Director, Richard Bidgood, photographer, and JoAnn Boscarino, draftsperson, all provided key assistance. We are grateful to the following colleagues for permission to reproduce images: E. Bidini, E. Darbyshire, P. dell’Agnello, R. DiPinto, A. Furiesi, E-Govi, M. Iozzo, B. Jatta, L. Miniari, V. Nizzo, G. Paolucci, C. Polizzi, M. Sannabile, S. Steingräber, J.-P. Thuillier, S. Wetzig, N. Woods. Thanks as well to the two anonymous reviewers, whose advice was extremely helpful.
We are especially grateful for funding for Open Access publishing from the Office of the Provost and the Franklin & Marshall College Library.
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Nicosia 1970, 198 reports on the discovery of three fragments of Attic red-figure pottery in the second season of the Italian excavations at the site in August 1969.
Sponsoring institutions include, Southern Methodist University, Franklin & Marshall College, University of Texas at Austin, University of Pennsylvania, Franklin University (Lugano), and the Open University, UK. Warden et al. 2005 provides an overview of the first ten years of excavation.
Michael L. Thomas, Director, Center for the Study of Ancient Italy (CSAI) and co-Director of MVAP is preparing publication of the architectural sequence. See Thomas 2016.
Satricum provides a parallel for a similar change in orientation: Maaskant-Kleibrink and Attema 1992, 10–12 and Prayon 1991,1285-95. On the importance of orientation and directionality in Etruscan religion, see Cherici 2013; Stevens 2009; Aveni and Romano 1994.
On trainers with forked sticks, see Kratzmüller 2001.
PC 98–050. Warden et al. 1999, 239–40, fig. 12.
Also probably identical are Amsterdam, Allard Pierson 2253, BAPD 204580 from Orvieto; and Washington D. C. BAPD 204581, from Orvieto. Three other examples, Athens, Cycladic Museum 721, BAPD 9031, Brussels R 337, BAPD 204578; and Copenhagen,Thorvaldsen 110, BAPD 204577, all without provenience, are also identical to 98–050.
From Adria BAPD 204584, BAPD 204585, and BAPD 204586 are very fragmentary but probably also identical. A fourth example from Adria. BAPD 9020753 is too fragmentary for analysis, but appears to depict the crossed leg and foot of the two boxers as on PC 98–050. We thank Daniele Maras for a suggestion that the identical cups by the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy may have been part of a single production exported to Etruria.
Maggiani 2016, 220–23.
Camporeale 2012,188; Colonna 2015, 224. Colonna suggests a slightly different reading from that of Camporeale. He sees an extra letter (k) at the beginning of the inscription. Thus, not nakaśke, a name, but knakaśke, with kn being reflexive, and askaśke the verb “donate” (thus by velś[nas]).
Warden 2009, 113
Jannot 2005, 45.
Reusser 2002, I: 39 and n. 62 outlines the evidence for Attic pottery in Etruscan votive deposits, and in particular, points to those examples with inscriptions identifying them as votives. He names only the south sanctuary to Śuri and Cavatha at Pyrgi as an example where Attic figural vessels may have served as “foundation deposits” so common in the Greek world (see also the important presentation of the Pyrgi evidence in Baglione 2004 and 2013), and he suggests that they must have played a role in both libation and consumption. Iozzo 2004, 68 presents more typical evidence of Attic imports at the sanctuary to an unknown deity on the acropolis at Volterra where the evidence for their precise use is unclear.
Reusser 2002, II: 270, theses 4 and 5.
Reusser 2002, I: 66–8 tabulates the numbers of imported Attic shapes included in Pellegrini’s catalog from Bologna cemeteries, and red-figure cups represent the largest percentage overall, 106 examples out of a total of 830, dating from the third quarter of the sixth century to the end of the fifth.
Govi 1999, 32.
Reusser’s tabulations reveal that the red-figure kylix is one of the most popular imported Attic shapes documented at North Etruscan sanctuaries. Of the 16 sanctuary sites he identifies north of and including Orvieto, 11 preserve evidence for between one and nine imported Attic kylikes (Reusser 2002, II: 146–47). At the Piazza al Duomo and Piazza Dante in Pisa, Attic shapes in addition to the kylix in Attic red-figure are recorded. The only sanctuary Reusser lists in the Mugello is Poggio Colla.
See Pesenti 2017, 142 n. 12 and n. 13 for a complete list and up-to-date bibliography on Attic imports in the region of the Mugello.
Tombs at Tarquinia that depict male figures/komasts dancing and holding kylikes include (numbers refer to Steingräber 1985): Tomba Cardarelli (No. 53, p. 305 fig. 107, a male figure on the wall opposite boxers dances, holding a kylix by the stem); Tomba della Fustigazione (No. 67, p. 315 pl. 73) dancers balance the foot of a kylix in one hand); Tomba 5591 (No. 164, p. 378, pl. 178 and fig. 11), a komast extends a kylix by the stem); Unnamed Tomb at Tarquinia (No. 173, p. 381, a bearded dancer with a kylix.)
Steingräber 1985, No. 44, p. 293 pl. 27–30.
Jannot 2005, 39. Steingräber 1985, 293 lists the spectrum of interpretations: departure scene from the deceased; a cult scene with goddess or priestess; an introduction of Semele to the gods through her son Dionysos. G. Meyers has noted the similarity of the female figure’s dress to that of the bronze female figurines from Poggio Colla, PC 14–001 and 14–040 (fig. 9); the latter also wears the tutulus.
BF amphora Dresden ZV 1653/Chianciano Terme from Camporsevoli, attributed to the Group of Vatican 265/The Group of Munich 883. Paolucci 2011,160–61; 167 reassigns the amphora to the Ancile Painter. Scarrone 2015, 33–4; 40; 47 no. I.41 combines these groups together with others as a “gruppo tardo a silhouette,” dated c. 500–450 B. C. E.
Paolucci 2011, 161 quoting Colonna 1997, 198 ; see Colonna and Paolucci 2004, 332–34, for readings of the inscriptions. According to Cerchiai 2014, 95, Wylin 2000, 84–8, 188 translates the verb as “oversaw/made” [the libation]. The flute player and an armed dancer on the reverse are labeled with Greek names: hermxrathe mi and stepene mi. See Colonna and Paolucci 2004.
Scarrone 2015, 34 n. 269 believes the scene depicts a funerary rite, as does Colonna (1997). Paleothodorus 2007,192 and others (for example, Rafanelli 2013, 574) believe it is Dionysiac, depicting an initiation ritual likely to have included armed dance competitions and boxing games. Martelli 1992, 346 suggests that the amphora evokes more generally the world of sacred games.
Vatican Mus. Greg. Etrusco inv. No. 12268. Paleothodoros 2007, 192–93 discusses the plaques as showing men in satyr costumes, escorting a sacrificial goat to an altar set up in front of a deity; Jannot 2005, 132, fig. 7–7 suggests the plaques may have been furniture inlays, and that the honored god may have been Tinia, with Turms the sacrificant.
Shipley 2015 lays out a compelling approach for assessing the impact of painted pottery in Etruscan use-contexts.
PC 99–054. 0.035 x 0.025 m. The fragment uses incision and appears to be Attic, although discolored perhaps by fire. For the subject, compare the black-figure amphora Tarquinia 670 (BAPD 13825), where a satyr holds a maenad on his shoulder while dancing.
Male figurines include PC 95–001, an archaic male head, p.h. 2.85 cm; and 15–001, a small nude youth, h. 7.75. Female figurines are 05–001, h. 8.7 cm ; 14–001, h. 9 cm; 14–040, h. 14 cm; 15–002, h. 11 cm. All of these are archaic or earlier in style and range in height from c. 9 to 14 cm. The female figures wear Etruscan dress, and the hair of one is arranged in a tutulus.
Reusser 2002, I: 41–3. Reusser notes the difficulty in conducting a systematic survey of this category of evidence because the nature and publication of excavation differs widely among sites. He is skeptical of suggestions of such links made by earlier scholars, for example the black-figure Laconian cup from Lavinium that Paribeni links to the worship of the Dioskouroi (Reusser 2002, II: 91–2).
The most graphic display of the violence of the sport may be in the Tomba del Letto funebre, Steingräber 1985, No. 82, 327–28, esp. 219 and pl. 112. A naked, wounded boxer apparently holds a sponge in front of his bloody face.
Rathje 2007, 179 fig. 4; a painting in the Tomba Francesca Giustiniani, Tarquinia, (Steingräber 1985, No. 65) shows a dancer, rather than a referee, holding a similar staff, but with the terminus in a lowercase “r” rather than a “v”.
See Thuillier 1980, 393. Gantz 1971, 23, identified the figure as Hermes in spite of the fact that “nowhere in Greek art does there seem to be a form of cadeusus or other attribute to Hermes like that on the Murlo frieze.”
This early Archaic bronze group from Poggio Civitate (Murlo) represents a wrestler and his trainer or an umpire holding a stick; see Warden 1982.
See Thuillier 1997 b, on his figs. 7 and 8 (fig. 18, Side D): the referee figure confronts a group of runners, and touches the apparent leader on the shoulder with the rod; he holds a bundle of what might be similar rods against his left shoulder as does his colleague behind him. A figure on a relief in Palermo (Museo Nazionale 8385, Jannot  C I 8 b, fig. 171 and fig. 26) stands near the judging platform with a similar bundle. A painting in the Tomba Poggio al Moro at Chiusi shows a group of a referee and runners with a long, flexible rod (Steingräber 1985. No. 22 and fig. 20) very similar to the example formerly in Basel. Steingräber (1985, 279) points out that the 19th-century drawings of this tomb are not entirely reliable, however.
Side D, Thuillier 1997 b, fig. 7, 8.
These examples include the following painted tombs at Chiusi (numbers refer to Steingräber 1985): Tomba di Montollo (No. 17, c. 480 B. C. E.); di Poggio al Moro (No. 22, c. 470–460), della Scimmia (No. 25, c. 480–470). At Tarquinia: degli Auguri (No. 42, c. 530); delle Bighe (No. 47, c. 490); Cardarelli (No. 53, c. 510–500); del Citaredo (No. 57, c. 490–480); della Fustigazione (No. 67, c. 490); delle Inscrizioni (No. 74, c. 520); del Letto Funebre (No. 82, c. 470–460); della Maestro delle Olimpiadi (No. 83, c. 500); delle Olympiadi (single boxer with red belt, No. 92, c.510); del Teschio (No. 116, c. 480); Nameless tomb (No. 173, c.500–450); del Guerriero (No. 73, c.350).
Tomba di Poggio al Moro (Steingräber No. 22, c. 470–460). Α full treatment and analysis of dancing boxers is Jannot 1985. See also fig. 17.
Steingräber 1985, 309, fig. 136 upper right.
From Arnoaldi Tomb 96 in Bologna. See Govi 1999,140–42 and Vienna-Munich 1964, XII, XIX, XXVII, pl. 50–55.
Thuillier 1997 b, 254–55.
Tosto 1999, 75; 78.
The Fitzwilliam Museum identifies the findspot for GR 3 1962 (fig. 21) as Orvieto. Note also the hydria by a member of the Leagros Group, Vatican Museo Gregoriano Etrusco 416 from Cerveteri and Lewis’ discussion of it (Lewis 2009, 141–42). The shoulder scene depicts two boxing matches with figures in poses very similar to those used by the Nikosthenic workshop. The scene also includes a flute-player and depicts blood coming out of the faces of two of the boxers, details that appear also in Etruscan tomb painting and locally produced ceramics.
Shapiro 2000 makes a case for understanding part of the black-figure output of the Attic Perizoma Group (including scenes of boxers and symposiasts) as an effort to capture an Etruscan market. Contra see Topper 2012, 101–5.
Berkeley, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology inv. 8/445. Martelli 2017, 102–10, figs. 41–44, has made a convincing case for this amphora as an Etruscan product, although she allows for the possibility that the painter was an immigrant from Athens.
Etruscan boxers on this style of pottery can be hard to identify because of the lack of context provided in the imagery and because of the dancing poses they sometimes adopt. An example in Harrow (BAPD 9017313) shows boxers in dancing poses, but the scene is not identified as boxers in the literature or the BAPD. We thank Jasper Gaunt for making us aware of this example.
Paleothodoros 2010 provides a broad overview of Etruscan black figure from the mid-sixth to the mid-fifth century. Paleothodoros has a database of 1600 Etruscan black-figure vases, about 60 % of which have a known provenience. Paolucci 2011 and Scarrone 2015 deal only with certain stylistic groups, numbering about 250 black-figure vessels.
In addition to the stamnos from Chianciano Terme mentioned above (Chianciano Terme 229519; Scarrone 2015, I: 153), there is the amphora, also discussed above, with fragments in both Dresden and Chianciano, depicting preparation for animal sacrifice and a libation poured from a kylix inscribed with the name of the dedicator and labels for three of the four other figures: Dresden ZV 1653/Chianciano Terme from Camporsevoli.
Martelli 1992, 346.
Paleothodoros 2010, 7. “As a rule, Etruscan painted pots of the archaic period belonged to the realm of the dead, even if it cannot be claimed that they were invariably produced for a funeral destination.” He also makes the case, based primarily on vase imagery, for well-developed Dionysiac civic cult in Etruria, beginning in the Archaic period to which a large number of Archaic and Early Cassical vase images refer: Paleothodorus 2007, 192–93.
Thuillier 1997 a, 381–82; Dion. Hal. Ant.Rom. 7.72–73.
Scarrone 2015. There are likely more scenes of boxers than this tally indicates, but those discussed here include all those included in Scarrone 2015 and Paolucci 2011. One example is the amphora from Sarteano now in the Florence Archaeological Museum which pairs boxers with an armed dance, mentioned by Paolucci (2011,161)
Paolucci lists 13 kylikes out of 121 vessels on his lists, and none are added by Scarrone. A complete example is the kylix from Tomb 579 from Chianciano Terme, Tolle now in the Museo Civico Archeologico, Paolucci 2011, figs. 1, 5.
Scarrone 2015 No. I. 93, Tarquinia 2432. Neck amphora. A: Pair of boxers with child in between; B: Pair of boxers with two sticks with hanging aryballos and chlamys. Scarrone 2015, No. I:100; Arezzo, Casa Museo Bruschi (fig. 25); Paolucci 2011, 182, fig. 37, attributed to the Orvieto Painter (184). Side B, also depicting boxers, is not illustrated. Scarrone places both the Volterra stamnos MG 1505 (fig. 24) and the Arezzo amphora (fig. 25) in her large “Gruppo Tardo a Silhouettes.”
Scarrone 2015, I:123. Budapest 51.26. Neck-amphora. A: Single boxer with fists clenched striding to right; B: Athlete striding right and looking back.
Scarrone 2015, I: 41 Florence V 414. neck-amphora. A: Two warriors and dog; B: pair of boxers.
Volterra MG 1505, 500–490 B. C. E., Scarrone 2015 I. 131 A: Pair of boxers; B: Man on horseback. Attributed to the Group of Munich 883 by Martelli 1987, 180 fig. 133, who lists Chiusi as a possible provenience. Paolucci 2011, 185, attributes the stamnos to the Orvieto Painter, to whom he also attributes the Arezzo example (Paolucci 2011, fig. 37, Side A and p. 184). Scarrone places it in her “Gruppo Tardo a Silhouettes” (I: 131).
Scarrone 2015, I: 153 Chianciano Terme 229519 A: Satyr dragging a goat; B: Two boxers. For the seventh example of wrestlers, see Gilotta 2010 and the discussion below of the red-figure column krater in Chiusi, Museo Archeologico, dating to the last quarter of the fifth century.
An Etruscan silhouette-style oinochoe formerly on the art market also depicts boxers in similar poses (see Eisenberg 2008). The left-hand figure is, again, almost identical to the Attic and Etruscan comparisions, but here the figure at right adopts a slightly different pose, with legs outstretched nearly parallel to the ground line. The figural scene is bounded by a vertical lotus-bud chain, suggesting it may be the product of the Lotus-bud Group, now projected to be located at Cerveteri (see Gaultier 2005). We thank one of the anonymous reviewers for this reference.
As mentioned above, Toronto 357 (BAPD: 204579) believed to be from Orvieto (fig.7) is identical to PC 98–050. Also probably identical are Amsterdam, Allard Pierson 2253 (BAPD: 204580) from Orvieto; Washington D.C. (BAPD: 204581) from Orvieto.
Scarrone 2015, I: 153 Chianciano Terme 229519, from Tomb 2 of the Necropoli di Via Montale.
Jannot 1998, 638.
A figure pictured in the Tomba della Scimmia (Steingräber 1985, No. 25) with wrestlers appears to hold a similar cane, but the handle curve at the termination is the reverse of that on other examples of “canes.” A dancer in the Tomba della Francesca Giustianini (Steingräber 1985, No. 65) holds a similar cane, much thinner and with a short vertical element together with the curved handle at the top.
Jannot 1998. Although Jannot does not make this point, it is possible that the helmet between the boxers on the Arnoaldi situla (fig. 20) may likewise represent elite military authority rather than a prize.
Another black-figure silhouette-style amphora, mentioned above (fig. 22), Tarquinia 2432, Ginge 1987, 76; pl. LXVII depicts scenes of boxers on both sides. Here, anomalously, two knobby “canes” framing the combatants play a different role. They appear to be attributes of the boxers themselves, closer to and perhaps influenced by Attic parallels, because aryballoi and sponges (?) hang from the canes on side B where they frame the boxers; and aryballoi and drapery on side A are between the boxers. An example of boxers that apparently references funeral ritual and belief more narrowly dates slightly later than the examples in the “Gruppo Tardo a Silhouettes.” It appears on a red-figure column krater (Chiusi, Mus. Arch. Naz.), unglazed on the interior and thus likely created to serve as cinerary urn. Here, according to Gilotta, the boxers are part of a multi- staged narrative combining funeral games with escort of the deceased to the underworld by Turms (Gilotta 2010, 109).
Reusser 2002, I: 38. Reusser states explicitly that we lack this information both because sites may not be completely excavated or published and in large part because we do not know for so many sites whom the cult celebrates.
Bologna, Museo Civico, third century (De Grummond 2006, 190, fig.VIII.19).
Bronze mirror from Tarquinia, c. 325–300 Tarquinia Museo Archeologico Nazionale (De Grummond 2006, 195, fig. VIII.23).
Rome, Villa Giulia 24864. Praenestine mirror, c. 300 B. C. E. See Marchese 1945, 49, fig. 1; Williams 1945, 338, fig. 12. Williams argues that the bronze statues of the so-called Hellenistic Ruler and the Terme Boxer found in the Baths of Constantine in Rome present Polydeukes and Amykos.
LIMC Dioskouroi/Tinas Cliniar Nos. 17–25 Two bronze cistae inscribed with the name ”Castor” are No. 21, Vassar College 54.Ia-b where the twins carry spears and walk horses by the reins; and No. 22, Lyons, Musée des Beaux-Arts 154.
Roncalli 1987 suggested that some depictions (Tomba Carderelli [Steingräber 1985, No. 53], Tomba del Letto funebre [Steingräber 1985, No. 82], Tomba del Triclinio [Steingräber 1985, No. 11]) of boxers and “desultores” or horse acrobats in tomb paintings refer to the Dioskouroi, but this idea has met with little acceptance (Thuillier 2009, 879).
About the article
Published Online: 2018-10-17
Published in Print: 2018-11-07
Citation Information: Etruscan Studies, Volume 21, Issue 1-2, Pages 98–145, ISSN (Online) 2163-8217, ISSN (Print) 1080-1960, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/etst-2018-0010.
© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0