About the Etruscans and their Jewelry
For Centrifugal Force, by Lisa Lickel
Why Etruscans, you ask?
I confess I was entranced by a display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece display I saw while visiting there with my family a few years past. I knew my male protagonist was German and that he was seeking something valuable, something priceless, that he lost. What type of item would have more than sentimental value to a man, something he would carry or wear?
My first thought was a pocket watch or some other obvious thing a European gentleman would wear. Perhaps cuff links, maybe a bracelet. Nothing really seemed to fit my something stuffy though very human, sentimental hero. I decided on a ring, and when I learned of the Nazi history in Gervas’s home town of Freiburg, I recalled the museum pieces I had seen in Greece. And so the last rightful owners of the jewelry became famous collectors known to loan treasures to museums all over the world who also happened to be Jewish. In Germany. In the late 1930s. This profile met many demands of my story line, including the fear of Nazi theft of art treasure, which was heavily documented.
The lost ring became more than a simple piece of jewelry, but the highly desired irreplaceable piece of a collection, valuable enough and circumstances of loss the basis for blackmail. It is also symbolic of my female protagonist Rachel,’s desire to hold a keepsake from her most miserable and most joyful time of life. The theft gave her a secret sense of revenge and power, which she was able to act on when Gervas returned, seeking its return and finding so much more.
Briefly, for us history nerds, Etruria was an ancient name for the region of Europe we know today as northern Italy. The people who lived there have mysterious origins and may predate the Greeks. Although they borrowed some elements of Greek writing to record their early language, their lexicon was not of the Indo-European group. As they interacted with Greeks, more of their culture was documented, such as their love of beauty in art and dress, including gold work jewelry which has been called highly skilled, flamboyant, and ostentatious during the middle period of seventh and sixth centuries BC. As Rome rose and reached its height between perhaps 100 BC to 100 AD, they eventually absorbed the Etruscan civilization. You can see a map here.
Below, find two of the many sources of research I used to learn more about the Etruscans.
Although I cannot show you the jewelry which formed the basis of this story due to copyright considerations, please visit this MetropolitanMuseum of Art site which offers a photograph of the collection that was my inspiration.