Montevideo Etruscan chariot

Montevideo Etruscan chariot
Montevideo Etruscan chariot

During Classical Antiquity, the Mediterranean area was a hotbed where different civilizations flourished and influenced each other, in this way Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Etruscans or Carthaginians shared a geographical space in which alliances and wars They were a constant. In this context, there are innumerable works of art and archaeological remains that have been found in the area, one of these examples is the Etruscan Carriage of Montevideo found in the central area of ​​the Italian Peninsula.


The Etruscans were an eminently commercial people, settled in central Italy, their lands were very fertile and their cities powerful bastions that the enemies had to take to reach Rome. From the 1st century B.C. this civilization was absorbed by the powerful Roman Empire who took over many of the Etruscan customs, especially in the artistic field.

The work that concerns us here is an Etruscan ceremonial chariot made of walnut wood and bronze and ivory lining plates on which some reliefs have been carved. According to experts, the work should date from the 6th century BC. around 550 or 560 B.C. At the beginning of the 19th century, the work was found by chance by a farmer who, without really knowing its value, sold it to a blacksmith in the area. He is aware of the value that he could havea piece like this -we are facing the only Etruscan chariot that has come down to us in good condition- he sold it for more than double the money it had cost to a collector in the New York Museum. When the Italian authorities wanted to react it was already too late and the work was outside the country, due to this the Etruscan chariot is currently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Due to the good conditions in which it was found and the materials with which it was made, experts believe that the famous chariot is a ceremonial piece or that it could even have been manufactured ex profeso as an object of funerary trousseau. Be that as it may, the truth is that the piece must have belonged to a powerful man due to its high cost.

In the panels of the reliefs we can observe a certain influence of Greek statuary, in fact some art historians hypothesize that the reliefs could be executed by Greek artists. The scenes represented seem to be taken from Book XVIII of the Iliad; In the center panel, the goddess Thetis gives Achilles his weapons and shield, while the left panel depicts the fight between Achilles and Memnon and the right panel depicts Achilles' ascent to the Island of the Blessed after his death in the Trojan War. The scenes are completed with representations of animals and a continuous frieze with plant scenes. The rudder of the chariot has also been decorated at its ends withrepresentations of animal heads.

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