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Etruscan Houses #2

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Etruscan Houses

Part 2

The house patterns utilized by Etruscan builders were certainly not restricted, however, to just the center hall house plan. There were other plans in effect as are indicated by the extensive Etruscan tomb remains.
At Blera (Bieda), Axia (Castel d'Asso), Orgola (Norchia), San Giovenale, and Manturanum (San Giuliano), all overlooking the Marta River and its tributaries, tomb facades cut into the rocks provide another set of house
and temple forms and designs. These carvings suggest gabled buildings with a single central portal. Another style is a two-storied structure with a colonnaded loggia over the entry, resembling a design utilized
extensively much later in terraced homes found in Pompeii and on the lower slopes of the mountain which later buried the city.
Another source of information relating to Etruscan housing is funerary urns, designed as models of the homes of their occupants in life. An ash urn found in Clusium (Chiusi) shows a rectangular structure with an arched entrance and a projecting pitch roof. In the lower part there is some sort of masonry construction, rabbeted to make the stone block joints more conspicuous. There is also an upper story which may be built of wood, and a possible indication of a gallery on the second floor supported with pilasters--upright architectural members rectangular in cross-section, structurally a pier.
Architecturally they are treated as a column complete with capital, shaft, and base.

A second urn from Clusium shows a manor house perhaps from the fourth century, featuring a ceiling aperture (compluvium) and wide eaves.
The roof is in a low pyramidal style Tomb paintings provide their own evidence of house and furnishing design
as well as decorations. The Etruscans obviously appreciated refinement and luxury in all aspects of their domestic environment. These paintings show a variety of well-carved couches, chairs, folding stools, and chests, as well as vases, wheeled braziers, braziers on tripods, and all manner of other bric-a-brac. The Tomb of the Painted Frescoes at Caere, as suggested by the name, provides an exemplary record of domestic interiors.
New finds of these tombs near Spina and the mouth of the River Po are expanding knowledge of Etruscan house design on an almost daily basis. It is fortunate for historians that the Etruscans were so involved with their homes as to make models of them in their tombs and ash urns. We have thus gained a more detailed and educated view of their architecture and the
designs of furniture and household items in use during this period.
This article completes our discussion of Etruscan House Design, and next issue we will investigate Roman Town Houses.

© NovaRoma 2005
editing by
Marcus Minucius-Tiberius Audens
designed by
Marcus Philippus Conservatus and Franciscus Apulus Caesar

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