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Collections / Ricerca / Etruscan Collection: Villanovan phase (900-680 B.C.)

Biconical ossuary jar with covering bowl

The ossuary is an urn intended to be the container for the remains of the deceased, whose body had been cremated, collected after a funeral pyre. In accordance with the Villanovan tradition, a typical biconical jar was used to this purpose.

More info

Shards of these jars can be found rather frequently in the excavations of settlements. They were also probably used in everyday life as fluid containers. Nevertheless, biconical jars for burial rituals can be clearly distinguished, due to the defunctionalisation procedure. In line with this procedure, Etruscans broke one of the jar two handles, consequently making it unsuitable for its ordinary usage and adapting it to funeral purposes. Soon afterwards, they began to mould funeral biconical jars with a single handle right from the beginning. When the ossuary urn had been set down in the tomb, it was covered with an overturned bowl. Etruscans regarded the entirety of the ossuary jar and its covering bowl, in all likelihood, as a sort of replacement of the deceased’s incinerated body. In many sepulchres, in fact, it can be found evidence of the practice of attiring the ossuary jar with cloths and jewels.

This sample of a biconical ossuary jar is decorated with bands of etched meanders, circlets and imprinted triangles.

Provenance: Bologna, Savena Necropolis, tomb 80
Datation: 9th century B.C.
Material: Ceramics
Dimensions: Height: 42 cm.
Inventory #: Inventory: 12493

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