Etruscan Pottery
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Etruscan Pottery


Etruscan black figure pottery from about 510 BC (Louvre)

When the Etruscans were ruling most of Italy, in the 500s and 400s BC, they were making two kinds of fancy, expensive pottery.


Etruscan red figure from about 410 BC

One kind of pottery was basically in the same style as Greek pottery of the same time period. First the Etruscans made black-figure pottery, and then they followed the Greeks in making red-figure pottery. But Etruscan vase painters had their own ideas too. The people on Etruscan pots tend to be livelier than on Greek pots, and looser in their movements.



Etruscan bucchero pot

The other kind of Etruscan pottery was all black, often with molded decorations on it. We call this second kind of Etruscan pottery bucchero (BOO-ker-oh), from the Spanish word for a vase.

Some people think that bucchero was supposed to look like silver pots, for people who couldn't afford silver. You can see that it looks shiny. But even this black bucchero pottery may have been pretty expensive. Ordinary people mostly couldn't afford it, and they used plain pottery without any fancy finishes on it.

Bibliography and further reading about Etruscan pottery:

Vulca the Etruscan, by Roberta Angeletti (1999). Easy reading.

The Etruscans, by Don Nardo (2004). Easy reading.

Hands-On Ancient People, Volume 2: Art Activities about Minoans, Mycenaeans, Trojans, Ancient Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans, by Yvonne Merrill (2004). Easy reading.

Etruscan Art, by Nigel Spivey (1997). A college textbook.

Etruscan Pottery: The Meeting of Greece & Etruria, by Mary Moser (University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1984).

Etruscan and Italic Pottery in the Royal Ontario Museum: A Catalogue, by John W. Hayes (1985). Hayes is the great expert on Roman pottery.


Roman pottery
Etruscan art
More about the Etruscans
More about Roman Art
Ancient Rome
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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