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Special Exhibitions

Women of Etruria

Through March 2017

Carnelian scarab with a scene from Greek myth, the Suicide of Ajax. One of a set of five, each with a different image. Fourth to third century BC. Kelsey Museum 93459

A new display at the Kelsey highlights the lives of Etruscan women. Etruscan women had a distinct status in the ancient Mediterranean world. The richly furnished tombs of upper class Etruscans indicate that women and men were treated as equals, in contrast to their Greek and Roman contemporaries.  Etruscan women also enjoyed liberties that were denied women elsewhere.  Paintings in Etruscan tombs frequently feature well-dressed women eating, drinking, and dancing in the company of men. Through marriage alliances women secured their family’s wealth and power, and by bearing children they guaranteed the continuity of their clan. Women also took part in religious cults both as priestesses and worshippers. They especially patronized cults of goddesses of fertility, love, death, and rebirth. The objects on display relate to three aspects of an Etruscan woman’s daily life: personal adornment, banqueting, and religious practices.

This exhibit was prepared by students in Professor Elaine Gazda’s class on Etruscan Art and Archaeology (Fall 2016) who selected the theme, did research on the objects, and participated in designing components of the display: Leah Bernardo-Ciddio (skyphos), Sheira Cohen (bucchero kantharos), Alexandra Creola (scarabs and installation design), Zoe Jenkins (installation design and text panel), Ariel Regner (miniatures), Ellen Seidell (fibula  and text panel design), and Emily Lime (kylix).