The Etruscan Libation Bowl is an unusual polychrome ceramic vessel. Scholars attribute its style to the Late Italo-Geometric period which dates to the 8th–7th century BCE. The artistic treatment of the vessel also suggests that it originated from the Etruscan cemetery at Vulci in southern Italy. It stands 25.4 cm tall and was constructed using thick terra-cotta walls. The interior of the vessel is hollow with openings at its mouth and base. The thick lip of the vessel is encircled by six plastic bull figures that are modeled with simplistic, direct execution. Red and black slip painted decoration appears across the entire surface of the vessel. Depictions of water fowl and rosettes alternate across the shoulder, while serrated vertical lines follow the circumference of the neck. The foot is decorated with wavy vertical lines. Three parallel lines adorn each joint, punctuating these stylistic elements and ostensibly turning each bodily segment into a distinct register of decoration.
Scholars speculate that the vessel served to facilitate ceremonial offerings of wine. In the Etruscan world, the consumption of wine was often done in ritual contexts to connect with the supernatural world. It has been posited by many experts that the vessel was once an element of a tomb before it was unearthed. Thus, it is hypothesized that libations, or liquid sacrifice, were poured through the channel of this vessel to be deposited on a grave or ritual surface of a funerary nature.
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