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2011 Archives

Researchers at SMU-led Etruscan dig in Italy discover ancient depiction of childbirth - first of its kind ever found

Excerpt

The following was posted on ArtDaily.org on Oct. 20, 2011. SMU Professor Greg Warden provided expertise in this story.

October 27, 2011

DALLAS, TX.- An archaeological excavation at Poggio Colla, the site of a 2,700-year-old Etruscan settlement in Italy’s Mugello Valley, has turned up a surprising and unique find: two images of a woman giving birth to a child. Researchers from the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which oversees the Poggio Colla excavation site some 20 miles northeast of Florence, discovered the images on a small fragment from a ceramic vessel that is more than 2,600 years old. The images show the head and shoulders of a baby emerging from a mother represented with her knees raised and her face shown in profile, one arm raised, and a long ponytail running down her back.

The excavation is a project of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex., Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, in collaboration with The Open University in Milton Keynes, England....

“The birth scene is extraordinary, but what is also fascinating is what this image might mean on elite pottery at a sanctuary,” said Dr. Greg Warden, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU and a director of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project. “Might it have some connection to the cult, to the kind of worship that went on at the hilltop sanctuary of Poggio Colla?”