Etruscan Hair Comb

Before the Roman Empire, there was Ancient Italy, a compilation of cultures who absorbed each other’s ideas through trade. This map would date from 700 to 400 BC.

Greeks started colonizing Southern Italy in 800 BC, creating the province of Magna Graecia. They traded and had great cultural influence on late Villanovan culture, from which Etruscan civilization emerged. Mycenaean Greece’s Lion Gate (1300 BC) could have been a perfectly natural subject for an Etruscan artist to choose.

I believe this Etruscan ivory comb (600 to 500 BC) is a tribute to the Lions Gate at Mycenae. Using sgraffito, two decorative Greek-vector borders were scratched in: a larger pattern below the lions, and a smaller one above the tines, which might represent the gate itself. On the triangle just above the tines, circles signify a sacred emblem, the solar disc.

The comb is an example of the Hellenized world in Ancient Italy before the Roman Empire. It resides in The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

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