Third quarter of the fourth century BCE
Height: 5.5 cm
Rim: 15 cm
Foot: 7.8 cm
Recovered by the Guardia di Finanza in 2003
The vessel is a stemmed dish (a shallow plate on a foot), here formed with a gently articulated lip. The vessel has been repaired and a section has been restored. The fabric is yellowish clay painted with thick and shiny black slip. The decorated tondo of the dish is framed by a wave motif (eight waves remain) running around the interior of the rim. The external border, which is pendulous, is painted in black. The exterior of the vessel is largely unpainted, with black bands accenting the body and foot. The base of the foot bears a carved inscription composed of the Etruscan letters M A. This writing is datable to the fifth to fourth century BCE. The interior tondo depicts the profile of a woman’s head facing left. Her prominent lips are ajar, her eye is rendered as an angle located on the front, her forehead is partially covered by her hair that escapes from an ornate diadem. Two curls flank her ear, which is a half-moon shape, and from which hangs a circular jewel with three pendants ending in little pearls. She wears a necklace composed of small beads at the base of her neck. On her head she wears a tiara (only partially preserved) decorated with a lattice pattern. This pattern is also found on the hairnet, or sakkos. The small area underneath the hairnet is unglazed. The quality of the vessel is high, with extremely glossy and brilliant glaze, elegant composition, and finally, accurate design, in which details are achieved with fine lines and relief brushstrokes denoting a precision that is almost miniaturist. There are two hypotheses about how Genucilia plates were used: First, a votive use tied to religious rites in which they may have been used to present offerings or as votive gifts. Second, a domestic use. In reality, the form of these plates, characterized by a small diameter, a shallow bowl, and a wide pendulous rim, doesn’t seem very suitable for a strictly domestic use. Furthermore, some examples are inscribed with divinities’ names. Others have been found in votive deposits in many sanctuaries of Lazio. These points could confirm the votive use of this class of ceramics. Based on the pictorial subject and the iconography, this vessel may be attributed to Caeretan workshops in the circle of the Genucilia Painter of Berkeley. The quality of execution and the high number of waves on the border suggest a dating in the third quarter of the fourth century BCE.