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A small box-like terracotta container embellished with figures in relief

A reclining figure molded in terracotta sits atop a flat lid on a square-ish terracotta box. The male figure wears a loose white robe and lies leaning on his elbow, while lazily holding an empty bowl in his other hand. The lid and his robe are painted white, his arms and face are a dull red, and his curly hair is light brown. Below, on one panel of the box, a scene in low relief shows two male figures battling with swords and shields, while behind each man stands a winged female figure.

Gallery Text

Who Is This Man?

We don’t know his name; he probably lived in the second century BCE at Clevsin, an Etruscan town in central Italy (modern Chiusi). The man’s name would have been painted on this terracotta urn, which once contained his cremated remains. Unfortunately, the painted inscription has not survived. Etruscan names often identified both parents’ families: his full name would have connected him to his extended family. This burial urn itself would have been placed in a family tomb, surrounding him with relatives for the afterlife.

Here, the man is shown lying on a couch, posed like a banqueter, and holds a bowl used for ritual offerings. Is he eternally ready for a funerary feast, poised to kick it off by pouring an offering? When his descendants returned to the tomb for ceremonies, they would have seen and joined ancestors like him in ritual celebration.

Caring for the Dead at the Harvard Art Museums

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Cinerary Urn with Reclining Man and Battle Scene
Work Type
first half second century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Clusium (Etruria)
Hellenistic period
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3700, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Roman Art
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Physical Descriptions

Painted terracotta
53 cm h x 44.5 cm w x 25 cm d (20 7/8 x 17 1/2 x 9 13/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Dr. Harris Kennedy, Milton, MA (by 1932), gift; to the William Hayes Fogg Art Museum, 1932.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Dr. Harris Kennedy, Class of 1894
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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On front, battle relief: Eteocles and Polynices with Winged Furies.

Publication History

  • D. Barrett Tanner, "Etruscan Art in the Fogg Museum", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum (1933), Vol. 3, No. 1, 12-17, p. 16, fig. 6.
  • [Reproduction Only], Persephone, Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 2011, p. 48.

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3700 Roman, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

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Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at