Alabaster alabastron (perfume vase)

Period: Archaic

Date: early 6th century B.C.

Culture: Etruscan

Medium: Alabaster

Dimensions: H.: 14 in. (35.6 cm)

Classification: Miscellaneous-Stone Vases

Credit Line: Purchase, The Concordia Foundation Gift, 2008

Accession Number: 2008.332


Cut from one piece of stone, this perfume flask consists of a tall, slender body terminating at the top in the form of a woman holding a lotus flower in her right hand and a splayed base embellished above with four conjoined female heads in high relief. The neck and rim are now missing, and the back of the body is also badly corroded, revealing part of the narrow drilled tube that held the contents. The flask belongs to a small group of sculptured stone alabastra; some of them may have been produced in the East, perhaps by Phoenician craftsmen, but others, found at Etruscan sites in central Italy, are seen as local adaptations. When it was first published, in 1963, this highly elaborate and unusual example was regarded as an Etruscan work. Despite its Orientalizing style, the heads on the flask, with their sharp, rather rudimentary features, recall other Etruscan sculptures of the late seventh and sixth centuries B.C.