Etruria and Rome Galleries Tour
Learn more about the Penn Museum’s important collections from Etruscan and Roman Italy. This tour covers eight themes and objects, from burial practices in early Italy to those at the at the height of the Roman Empire. Discover more about everyday objects like glass vessels and lamps, ceramic manufacturing, Etruscan architecture,and an erased Roman imperial inscription.
9 Tour Stops
Mediterranean Galleries Tour Introduction
The Penn Museum’s Mediterranean section has more than 30,000 objects ranging from the Early Bronze Age, around 5,000 years ago, to 19th century reproductions of ancient Roman artifacts from Pompeii.
People in the ancient world were often buried with objects that exemplified their lives and cultural values. Archaeologists can learn about ancient people by studying their burial assemblages.
In much the same way that we roof our buildings now, the Etruscan used decorations made of fired clay, or terracotta, to protect wooden structures like temples from decay. These terracottas help archaeologists reconstruct ancient buildings made from organic materials that are no longer standing.
The Etruscans were incredible craftsman. They used distinct ceramic firing techniques to create their own black or grey pottery called bucchero and to imitate the famous black and red ceramics produced in the area around Athens, Greece.
Glass manufacturing was already thousands of years old when the Romans revolutionized its production, making glass a mass-produced commodity.
Like today, people in the ancient Mediterranean created, erected, modified, and reused monuments in response to changing political and social situations.
The Romans used large ceramic storage vessels, called amphorae, to transport staple goods like wine and olive oil all around the Mediterranean.
Roman lamps were functional and often decorative. Like today, the Roman used lamps to light up the world around them.
The Roman Empire reached far and wide and encompassed people from many cultures, including the important crossroads at Palmyra in modern Syria. Funerary sculptures from Palmyra reflect the vibrant, multicultural people of the Roman world.