Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/40

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30
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

line, its decoration is most effective; yet it betrays greater skill in geometrical design than in the representation of animate life. The dog drawn on the girdle is still far from lifelike. Then come—probably after inspiration from Greek art—the possibilities in complex ornamentation represented by our third specimen, Not more pleasing

PSM V55 D040 Three ages of etruscan vases.png
Early Etruscan.  Later Etruscan. Greek Etruscan.

in form, perhaps less truly artistic because of its ornateness, it manifests much skill in the delineation of human and animal forms. The culture culminates at this point. From profusion of ornament and overloaded decoration, degeneracy begins. It is the old story of the life and decay of schools of art, time in and time out, the world over.

The advance in culture typified by our vases was equaled in all the details of life. The people built strongly walled cities; they constructed roads and bridges; their architecture, true predecessor of the Roman, was unique and highly evolved. All the plain and good things of life were known to these people, and their civilization was rich in its luxury, its culture and art as well. In costumes, jewelry, the paraphernalia of war, in painting and statuary they were alike distinguished. Their mythology was very complex, much of the Roman being derived from it. Most of our knowledge of them is derived from the rich discoveries in their chambered tombs, scattered all over Italy from Rome to Bologna. There can be no doubt of a very high type of civilization attained long before the Christian era. Roman history is merged in the obscurity of time, five or six hundred years later than this. The high antiquity of the Etruscan is therefore beyond question. But its highly evolved art and culture show that we have no longer to do with European origins; to discuss it further would lead us to trench upon the field of classical rather than prehistoric archæology.