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Artefact – Funeral Urns

April 13, 2014

I have been preparing for the Classical Association conference this week and so have not had the opportunity to write anything substantial. I look forward to doing a write up of the conference when I get back. However, during this preparation work I have been thinking about where I want to take my studies once I finish my MA. I have always had a fascination with the mythology of the underworld and during a recent visit to the British Museum I saw these two pieces.


Cinerary urn designed in the form of a thatched hut dating from the 8/7th century BC. Discovered in Monte Albano.



Marble cinerary urn from the 1st/2nd century AD. The inscription reads as a dedication to Bovia Procula. It is thought that this originated in southern Italy.

It is interesting that the funerary urn did not change much in design over the duration of 800-1000 years. Though materials differ, as with the ones pictured, the shape and general design remain quite similar. Burials occurred in other parts of Italy but the only funeral rite in early Villanovian culture was incineration. The remains were placed in a container and buried in a cylindrical well. The most common style of funerary urn was a biconical vase with a bowl like lid. The hut urn pictured above was uncommon; at larger burial sites approximately one out of every hundred were of this style (Bartoloni, 2000:59).

Since taking these photos I have often thought about the pieces and what they represent. This is definitely an area that I would like to investigate in greater depth and maybe where my future studies take me.

Just a note that if you are not attending the conference but are on Twitter you can follow #CA14. There are a number of other people you can follow in addition to me on @da11sop. I would also recommend you follow the Classics Collective through their blog where they will be posting updates on the conference.


Bartoloni, G. The Origin and Diffusion of Villanovan Culture in The Etruscans, Torelli, M. (Ed), London: Thames and Hudson, 2001, pp. 53-71.



From → Artefacts

  1. Hello, looking forward to reading your write up on the conference!

    • Hello Susan, I will be working on it on and off between essay writing during the rest of this week. It may be posted in parts as there is a lot to write about.

  2. I went to the Etruscan exhibition that was on in Paris in December and they had quite a few of these hut-shaped funerary urns.

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