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Gift of Leon Levy

Etruscan, Caere, 510 - 500 B.C.
Terracotta and slip
H: 13 19/32 in.; W: 11 in.; D: 10 9/32 in.

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Originally surrounded by a large scalloped shell, a woman's head decorates this broken antefix or architectural decoration. The woman wears a diadem, earrings, a necklace, and a patterned dress. An artisan added bright paint to the molded terracotta head to emphasize the antefix's effect and visibility.

Although this antefix is unusual because it is a bust of a figure, not just a head, the Getty Museum owns another antefix made from the same mold. Antefixes very similar to this example were found at Caere.

The roof tiles running along the eaves of ancient Greek and Etruscan buildings often ended in upright members called antefixes. These mold-made terracottas often took the form of heads, either of humans or mythological creatures. As well as being decorative, architectural terracottas served to cover and protect exposed wooden parts of the architecture from the elements.