Volterra (Etruscan Velathri, Latin Volaterrae) was a major sculptural centre in the 3rd century BC. The alabaster quarried nearby was used to create masterfully carved urns, often decorated in relief with a lid representing the deceased as a banqueter.
The sole ornament on this urn is the female figure reclining on two pillows on a kline (couch) – the only element suggesting a banquet scene. The mask-like face of the woman, her stout proportions, and the clumsy treatment imply that the piece was carved by a stone-cutter of modest skills, working perhaps outside the artistic centre.
Material analyses conducted by Danielle Decrouez (Geneva, Museum of Natural History) and Karl Ramseyer (University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences) have shown that the urn was made of Tuscan gypsum. Click here for the detailed results.