32. Tomb of the Triclinium

Banquet scene Tomb of Triclinium wall painting 

 Music (Barbiton player on the left wall)
 
 
 
 
Dancing (two dancers on the right wall)

32. Tomb of the Triclinium. Tarquinia, Italy. Etruscan. c. 480–470 B.C.E. Tufa and fresco. 

Cross-Cultural COmparisons: Fresco murals

  • Arena Chapel 
  • Sistine Chapel
  • House of the Vettii
Context: 
  • Etruscan culture = advanced Iron Age culture
    • wealth based on Italy’s natural resources -- metal and mineral ores
      • iron to Greece and North Africa
      • exchanged through medium/long-range trade routes/networks 
    • because they were rich, they were attacked by surrounding countries
  • Etruscans believed that their lives in the afterlife would be very similar to their life on earth
    • kind of like Egyptians
  • funerary customs
    • Etruscans did not bury their dead inside city limits, but still sought to provide peace and comfort 
    • mainly elite members of society participated in intricate funerary rituals 
    • funerals often accompanied by games, feasts, and music and dancing
      • which both men and women could go to
    • banquet -- reinforced the socio-economic position of the deceased person + family
      • show community their importance with:
        •  visual reminders of socio-political status
        •  indications of wealth 
        • civic achievements 
        • notably public offices held
    • Other Etruscan tombs have furniture that people would use in them and showed paintings of everyday life
      • they also had demons depicted (maybe symbolize the threat of other countries) 
      • most had a door to the after life painted on the back wall
  • Etruscans vs Egyptians vs Greeks 
    • Etruscans buried their dead in carved coffins + buried them in houses with necessities for the after life + for the elite 
      • similar to the Egyptians (sarcophagus for pharaohs) but Egyptians didn't bury they covered? (with giant Pyramid) 
      • Greeks cremated or buried urn (with ashes in them) 
  • This tomb gets name from Greco-Roman Mediterranean three-couch dining room --> triclinium
    • located in Monterozzi necropolis
      • a cemetery, especially a large one belonging to an ancient city
  • Tarquinia (where this tomb was found) was a very powerful and prominent center
    • this area is known for its painted tombs
  • Tombs are the only remains because the Romans (when they took over) destroyed everything (or changed it) 
Content: 
  • The tomb is meant to be a single chamber with wall decorations painted in fresco
    • Chamber tombs = subterranean rock-cut chambers 
      • accessed by an approach way --> dromos 
  • Wall paintings from Triclinium give information on funeral culture but also living society (not intended use) 
    • left wall shows four dancers (three female + one male) and male musician playing the barbiton
      • ancient stringed instrument like the lyre
    • right wall shows similar scene 
    • back wall shows banqueters enjoying a dinner party
  • Fresco is partial, it probably had: 
    • 3 couches each with a pair of reclining diners and 2 attendants 
      • one male one female (attendant and diner) 
  • diners dressed in bright and expensive robes (elite status)
  • three legged tables with many vessels on top in front of couches 
  • animals under couches
    •  large cat stalking a large rooster and a partridge 
  • trees and shrubs all around the figures - rural setting?
  • Nude cup bearer with wine jug sieve in the corner 
  • Tomb’s ceiling painted checkered (scheme of alternating colors) 
    •   meant to evoke the temporary fabric tents near the tomb for celebration of the funeral banquet?
Form: 
  • Chamber tombs = subterranean rock-cut chambers 
  • stylistic comparisons between banquet scene and 5th century B.C.E. Attic pottery from Greece
  • figures are angular and stiff 
  • awkward, artists did not know body fluidity and proportions correctly ?
  • clothes do show outline of body underneath -- not as sophisticated as Greek/Roman art 
  • typical gender depiction 
    • female skin tone = light in color 
    • male skin tone= tinted/darker orange-brown
Function:
  • Tombs were a huge part of the funerary rituals
  • contain remains of the deceased and various grave goods or offerings 
    • like Egypt (Pyramids of Giza) 
  • share a final meal with the deceased as deceased transitioned to the afterlife
    • portion of the meal + appropriate dishes + utensils were deposited in the tomb
    • reinforce the socio-economic position of the deceased person + family
      • show community their importance with:
        •  visual reminders of socio-political status
        •  indications of wealth 
        • civic achievements 
        • notably public offices held

  • ** actual paintings removed from tomb c. 1949 
    •  conserved in the Museo Nazionale in Tarquinia
      • state of preservation deteriorated
      • watercolors made when discovered = important to help study of the tomb

Sources: 
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