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Work Amphora with Spiral Decoration

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Amphore à décor incisé : spirales et oiseaux

© 1996 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Astier Marie-Bénédicte

Etruscan impasto ware was used to produce numerous everyday vases such as this amphora from the Campana collection. Created early in the Orientalizing period (the seventh century BCE) the work is still influenced by the Geometric aesthetic of the preceding century. The linear, Geometric motifs are mixed with animal motifs and rosettes borrowed from the Orientalizing repertoire, which achieved great popularity in the seventh century BCE.

An amphora from the Campana collection

This rather squat amphora is from the collection of the Italian marquis Gian Pietro Campana. We do not know where it was discovered, nor its exact origins. It entered the Louvre in 1863 with the rest of the Marquis's remarkable collection of antiquities.

Impasto ceramics

This type of vase, known as a "spiral amphora," was very widely distributed in Latium, the Faliscan territories (the ancient settlements of Civita Castellana or Falerii) and in southern Etruria, where the present example was probably made. Its style is typical of the early Orientalizing period, between 700 and 680 BCE. It was made on a wheel, using a brown-colored, unrefined clay known as impasto. The globular body is decorated with engraved geometric patterns and figures.

An adaptation of the Orientalizing repertoire

The work shows the persistent influence of the Geometric period (the eighth century BCE), but its linear decoration is mixed with animal motifs and rosettes borrowed from the Orientalizing repertoire that achieved great popularity during the seventh century BCE. Each side bears a double spiral, topped by a bird whose silhouette is filled with a series of dots. The birds are flanked by two rosettes, while a wheel-shaped motif appears on the lower part of the body. Oblique lines in the shape of a "W" are engraved on the sides.


Gran-Aymerich J., Corpus vasorum antiquorum, in Musée du Louvre 20, 1982, IV BA, pl. 3, 4 et pl. 6, 2.

Technical description

  • Amphore à décor incisé : spirales et oiseaux

    Vers 700 - 680 avant J.-C.

    Production : Étrurie méridionale

  • Impasto

    H. : 26,60 cm. ; D. : 27,20 cm. ; L. : 19,40 cm.

  • Collection Campana, 1863 , 1863

    C 551

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Ground floor
    Etruria I
    Room 420
    Vitrine 3

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