Archaeological Museum of Bologna

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Collections / Ricerca / Etruscan Collection: the Orientalizing phase

Saletto Stela

Funerary stelae are the most significant expression of the Orientalising culture in Bologna. They adhere to the anthropomorphic shape, consisting of a rectangular “body” and a circular top part. The decoration is carved in low relief and replicates recurrent motifs, such as the Sphinx, the Tree of Life, and the Lord of the Animals, which come from Southern-Etruscan prototypes. Nevertheless, they are directly influenced by the relationships with artists from the Near East as well.

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Compared to the vast quantity of acknowledged sepulchres, most often with bare top sandstone cippi, their rarity hints at the fact that they could have been grave markers exclusively intended for high-ranking personalities, as it is proved by the scarce circumstances where these stone stelae have been uncovered in their original position.
A sphinx adorns the circular top part of this stela, while the body shows two rampant goats, heraldically flanking the Tree of Life – motifs of Near Eastern inspiration, which were favoured in the area of Bologna for their symbolic meaning, probably connected to the concept of rebirth.

Provenance: San Giorgio di Piano (Bologna), locality of Saletto di Bentivoglio
Datation: Second half of the 7th century B.C.
Material: Sandstone
Dimensions: h. 72 cm; w. 25 cm; t. 8 cm.
Inventory #: 25677

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