ostracon ancient art
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Etruscan Urn with Helmet Lid, Villanova Period, 775-725 BC

Biconical cinerary urn covered by a bell helmet with removable pommel in the shape of a sword hilt.

Urn and helmet with geometric decoration executed with a three-point comb and containing traces of light pigment. Series of crosses, swastikas and hooks, some of which embedded in squares. Meander pattern below the urn's flared rim. The carination to the waist with a line of embossed dots.

The house-shaped pommel recurrent on Etruscan helmet lids proves here to be a removable sword hilt. Its top edge is lined with tiny holes that may have held small bronze rings.

For a comparable example, cf. lot no. 4 in: Münzen und Medaillen AG. Sonderliste U: Italische Keramik. Basel 1984.

This type of biconical urn is typical of the Villanovan culture of the 9th–8th centuries BC. It was used to hold the ashes of human bodies after cremation. The helmet lid denotes a male burial and the status of the deceased.
The removable knob uncovers an opening on the helmet, a sort of spirit hole through which the soul can exit.

Grogged impasto ware with finely burnished surface. Color, quality and workmanship of the ceramic show that urn and lid belong together.

H. 47 cm (18.5 in)
H. urn 32.5 cm (12.8 in)

Rare, fine condition. Urn intact, helmet reconstituted from fragments, hilt glued from two pieces.

European private collection since the 1970s. Joined by a search of the Art Loss Register Database, issued May 2010.

Sold 4800 USD


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