villanovan

Villanovan Bronze Votive Hands, c. 7th Century BC

Villanovan culture was an  Early Iron Age culture in Italy, named after the village of Villanova, near Bologna, where in 1853 the first of the characteristic cemeteries was found. The Villanovan people branched from the Urnfield culture of eastern Europe and appeared in Italy during the 10th or 9th century BC.  The Villanovan people were a society of warrior-farmers living in small hut-villages. Their control of mines, metal ore and their expertise in metallurgy are all hallmarks of this era.

Votive items such as these may have been used at cult healing sanctuaries as an offering to cure a particular ailment or given in gratitude after a malady had healed. Votives in bronze are a rarer find since metal was more expensive than the common terracotta alternative.

Urn in the shape of a Hut with Door

8th Century BC

Villanovan (Italic)

Before the emergence of the Etruscan civilization, native cultures of Italy (called Italic) flourished. Among these groups were the Villanovans, who arose during the 9th and 8th centuries BC in central Italy. Villanovan artists developed a geometric style distinguished by angular shapes, which lived on in the art of the Etruscans. This urn was probably used as a container for the ashes from a cremation. Hut urns are especially significant artifacts because they depict Italic domestic architecture, otherwise lost to us. The steep angle and protruding decorative elements of the roof influenced later Etruscan and Roman architecture.

Source: The Walters Art Museum

Villanovan Pottery Urn with Crested Helmet Lid, 9th-8th Century BC

With a handle on one side, a flaring rim, and incised geometric designs of meanders, triangles, hatched fields, and swastikas. The pottery helmet lid has similar incised decoration.

The Villanovan culture was the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy, abruptly following the Bronze Age Terramare culture and giving way in the 7th century BC to an increasingly orientalizing culture influenced by Greek traders which was followed by the Etruscan civilization. Villanovan culture and people branched from the Urnfield culture of Central Europe. The name Villanovan comes from the first archaeological site where artifacts were discovered near Villanova, not far from Bologna in northern Italy. 

Bronze crested helmet

Villanovan period

Italy

9th Century BC

The Villanovan culture was the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy, abruptly following the Bronze Age Terramare culture and giving way in the 7th century BC to an increasingly orientalizing culture influenced by Greek traders, which was followed without a severe break by the Etruscan civilization. The Villanovan culture and people branched from the Urnfield culture of Eastern Europe. The Villanovans introduced iron-working to the Italian peninsula; they practiced cremation and buried the ashes of their dead in pottery urns of distinctive double-cone shape.

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Villanovan Bronze Crested Helmet, c. 900 BC

The Villanovan culture was the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy, abruptly following the Bronze Age Terramare culture and giving way in the 7th century BC to an increasingly orientalizing culture influenced by Greek traders which was followed by the Etruscan civilization. Villanovan culture and people branched from the Urnfield culture of Central Europe. The name Villanovan comes from the first archaeological site where artifacts were discovered near Villanova, not far from Bologna in northern Italy.  They controlled the rich copper and iron mines of Tuscany and were accomplished metalworkers.