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Etruscans: The Ancient Cities of Lazio Opens at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Pettorale d’oro con inserti d’ambra, Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Etruria Meridionale, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, Roma.

ROME.- The exhibition, organized in conjunction with the Lazio Regional Authority's Culture, Performance Arts and Sport Department, with the significant contribution of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage – Superintendence for Etruria Meridionale Archeological Heritage, tells the story of the Etruscan civilization in Lazio and describes its extraordinary level of achievement through the development of its main urban centers. Veii, Cerveteri, Vulci and Tarquinia were four cities that began life with many of their more ancient features stemming from common roots, only later going on gradually to differentiate from one another both in terms of their artistic output and in more general terms of culture and worship, of life style and of trading practices.

The second part of the exhibition is devoted to the ties between these ancient cities and Rome itself, highlighting the huge influence that the Etruscan civilization had on the Roman world, on its religious practices and on its symbols of power, pointing to continuity but also to the differences between the two cultures.

The individual character of these four cities in southern Etruria is illustrated by a selection of some of the most important works of art from each locality, many of which will be on public display for the very first time.

Veii is the capital of choroplastic art, in other words the manufacture of terracotta for decorating roofs and for ex-voto statuettes. Alongside the objects on display that were dedicated to the sanctuary, the reconstruction of a part of the temple of Apollo in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni's central octagonal hall recreates for visitors the spectacular scenographic impact of this skilled interweave of architecture and sculpture, with the statues of Apollo, Latona and Hercules in their original positions on the apex of the roof.

Cerveteri is celebrated for its particularly splendid tomb architecture, as evinced in its famous necropolis. A life-size tomb is rebuilt in the exhibition hall to illustrate the pomp and ceremony of the Archaic era, in which the cult of one's ancestors played a hugely important role.

Vulci is represented by monumental sculpture in local stone, and by works from the neighboring sites of Ischia di Castro and Tuscania which were placed at tomb entrances and which often depicted mythological beasts. From the closing years of the VIIIth century B.C. on, Caere (Cerveteri) and Vulci were the focal points of the flourishing trade routes from the Greek world, and it was through these markets that precious decorated ceramic vases from the Greek Orient, from Corinth and later from Attica reached the various locations in Etruria. Several large vases are on display, all of them veritable masterpieces of the Greek painting that had such a profound influence on Etruscan figurative art.

Tarquinia, with over 100 frescoed tombs ranging in date from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic era, was the single most important "art gallery" in the ancient world before Pompeii. A number of the most significant finds from this extraordinary treasure trove of painting, much of which is little known to the general public, is on show at the exhibition. The discovery of the sacred area of Gravisca, the port of Tarquinia, in the early seventies proved crucial in affording us a better understanding of the economic dynamics that molded trade relations in the Tyrrhenian area. In fact, the very first emporium on Etruscan soil frequented in particular by Greek merchants was excavated at the site. The exhibition tells the story of the sanctuary in Gravisca not only through the display of many of the ex-voto offerings left by worshippers at the site, but also through a virtual reconstruction of the temple of Adonis, where the celebrations marking the annual cycle of the young hero's death and rebirth were held.

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