The early Iron Age in northern Italy is termed Villanovan after a site found near Bologna in the 19th century. The Villanovan period was preceded in the 10th and 9th centuries B.C. by a proto-Villanovan phase, which was a time of transition from the Apennine Bronze Age culture related to the Urnfield cultures north of the Alps. This early phase used geometric designs and figural representations that persisted as components of later Etruscan and Italic art. The usual ornamentation includes incised zigzags, triangles, concentric circles, swastikas, and figures of humans and animals, such as water-birds and horses. Developing further between the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., and contemporary with Greek Geometric art, the artistic production of the Villanovan Iron Age contributed to the development of early Etruscan art, particularly at Villanovan sites where Etruscans would later flourish. Villanovan art is noted for its bronze and iron metal work, particularly its large bronze vessels adorned with figurines, as well as simply decorated pottery, which was well-made in spite of being produced without use of the potter’s wheel. Although primarily from burial contexts, the art of the Villanovans focused on the form and decoration of objects for the house, such as terracotta and bronze vases of various shapes, or for ceremonial use, such as wide bronze belt plaques, protective armor and swords, and fibulae to fasten clothing.
Villanovan Bronze Fibula with Birds
Villanovan Bronze Figurine