Undergraduate Seminar: Tomb Biographies & Rituals from Ancient Italy: Exploring the Etruscans at the Hearst Museum
At the turn of the 20th century Phoebe A. Hearst set out to bring Etruscan antiquities to UC Berkeley for the educational benefit of students, faculty, and the public at large. Several thousand artifacts from Tuscany (from funerary and religious contexts) arrived on campus as early as 1902. This seminar will immerse students in a collection of artifacts that has been largely understudied – it will offer an introduction to Etruscan art and a brief history of Etruscan collections in the US. What can we learn about the Etruscans through the objects in the Hearst Museum? How can this collection add to a broader assessment of Etruscan funerary practices via their tomb groups? What knowledge can we gain from 19th century acquisition practices? The class will be organized both chronologically and thematically, going beyond object-based analysis to combine new approaches to contextualizing Etruscan material culture and visual rhetoric. Working from the objects themselves, we will address various aspects of Etruscan life: banqueting, the home, religious life, the public realm, personal adornment and political authority (just to name a few). In this way, the class will unravel the funerary biographies and ritual practices from the objects studied. We will attempt to explore as much of the collection as possible, with students choosing a significant single artifact, or a group of artifacts or a tomb group for an in-depth study. No prior knowledge of ancient Italy is necessary for this class. The course connects with broader fields including Anthropology, History, Classics, Italian Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies (just to name a few).
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (A) and Chronological area (I).