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Society of Esteem: Etruscan culture

There aren’t many remnants of the Etruscan culture.  Most of the few findings were discovered in burial sites.  It was precisely an Etruscan tomb where we found one of the most determining facts leading to the idea of the Society of Esteem.

Archaeologists discovered a fresco, painted on the tomb wall, with an extended illustration of an Etruscan banquet.

On the right side of the fresco there’s a long, festively decorated table.  Etruscan men and women are sitting around the table, drinking from opulant cups and eating a lavish meal.  Behind the table stands a flute playing musician.  On the other side, two figures arrive at the table bringing food on decorative plates.

On the left side of the fresco is a kitchen scene with citizens preparing food in large pots.  One person is walking from the kitchen toward the table carrying another plate with food.

We list the details of the fresco because it’s important to get a picture of the scene.  The traditional interpretation by archaeologists was that the mural showed a rich major-domo at dinner with his family.  The servants were thought to be his slaves – cooking, serving and entertaining him with music.

But when you look more closely at the details, a different picture emerges.  All of the participants, whether they’re serving or being served, are wearing the same clothing of wealth and good taste.  Each one, the diners, the servants, the musician and the cookers are all dressed in finely decorated clothing.

Another conspicuous detail is the fact that there are also women seated among the dinner guests – unusual for those times.

The new interpretation according to the Society of Esteem is:

The wealthy outfits suggest that there was no difference in status between the people being served and the people serving them.  Seemingly the cookers, the musician and the waiters received the same esteem for their work as did the family who was celebrating.

In the Society of Esteem there is no hierarchy of values which depend on possession of money or power.  Everybody gets the same esteem for his profession,  may it be waiter, musician or cooker or land baron.

You can find more information about the appreciation of professions and talents in the Society of Esteem in some of our previous posts.


Society of Esteem and the Etruscans

We didn’t invent the idea of the Society of Esteem, we formed the image of this kind of society by studying ancient cultures.  Most probably some ancient cultures such as the Sumerians and the Etruscans lived a society which was based on esteem instead of hierarchy of values.

Before we start with the first of six parts covering the Etruscan culture and society we need to give you some general information about the Etruscans.

The Etruscan culture suddenly appeared in Italy about 1,000 B.C.  Researchers say that is seems as if they came “out of nowhere”.   Nobody knows where the Etruscans came from and why their culture was so much more highly developed than the cultures of other tribes already living in ancient Italy.

Almost immediately after arriving on the ancient scene the Etruscans exhibited a highly developed civilization and culture.

Among their outstanding cultural achievements were street construction, floor heating, gold craft, irrigation knowledge and trading skills.

Next we’ll look at the clues they left behind that lead us to draw some conclusions about Etruscan society.