MOLDINGS AT POGGIO COLLA
By Ingrid E.M. Edlund-Berry
in consultation with Lucy T. Shoe Meritt
Department of Classics, The University of Texas at Austin
Left: Professor Lucy Shoe
Meritt at a symposium and exhibition of her architectural drawings,
May 1998, The University of Texas at Austin. Photo: Chris Williams.
Right: Professor Ingrid Edlund Berry
and John Berry measuring a "podium" block from the
north edge of the plateau of Poggio Colla.
Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr.
Lucy T. Shoe Meritt (Visiting Scholar, The University of Texas
at Austin), it is possible to identify the specific characteristics
of the Etruscan architectural tradition as distinct from its
Greek and Roman counterparts.
Peculiar to Etruscan architecture is
the use of a rounded molding, used primarily at the base of monumental
tombs, temples, and altars. Although the form of this molding
may vary between the different Etruscan cities, the basic principle
of the "Etruscan round" remains constant from the Archaic
period into Roman times (6th-2nd century B.C.). Because of the
somewhat idiosyncratic individualism expressed in the art forms
represented in the major Etruscan sites, it is usually possible
to attribute a molding to a geographical region, but other evidence
is need to provide a secure chronology at each site.
Sandstone block, possibly
a podium cap, from the north edge of Poggio Colla,
discovered by Dr. Francesco Nicosia during his excavations from
and uncovered by the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project in
These principles of Etruscan moldings
were presented by Dr. Meritt in her 1965 publication. New discoveries
made since that date have not only confirmed her thesis, but
also shown the importance of Etruscan traditions in Roman and
Italic architecture. It is in this context that the body of architectural
moldings from Poggio Colla play a major role for future study.
They represent the largest number of "new" moldings
discovered since the famous altars at Lavinium, south of Rome,
and the variety in form between the rectangular podium blocks
and round bases complements our evidence from other sites throughout
Etruria. As can be expected due to the individuality of Etruscan
sites, no exact parallels for the Poggio Colla moldings can be
quoted at this point, but the basic form of the large single
or double round fits into the patterns known from sites close
to Poggio Colla, such as Fiesole, as well as further away, such
as Orvieto and Rome.
The excavations at Poggio Colla have
already produced invaluable evidence for Etruscan monumental
architecture; continued study of important details such as the
moldings will make it possible to provide the historical context
for the impressive buildings that once occupied the site.
The first Tuscan column
base being excavated in 1995 in Poggio Colla Trench 3
Column base after its removal
by conservators from The
Gabinetto di Restauro, Soprintendenza Archeologica della Toscana
Column base prepared for
transport to the Gabinetto del Restauro, Firenze
See information on the exhibition: The Legacy of Lucy Shoe Meritt: Texas Contributions
to Etruscan Archaeology: November 22, 1999 - February 4,
2000, in the Hawn Gallery of the Hamon Arts Library, Southern
Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Ingrid Edlund-Berry
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Classics, WAG 123
Austin, TX 78712-1181, USA
Telephone: 512-471-5742 (office)