- The Etruscan temple consisted of a high podium of stone, one to three cellae with or without wings, and a superstructure of wood dressed with terracottas. Good examples are found at Orvieto, Veii, and Tarquinia. The best examples of the distinctive molded podium are preserved in the Belvedere sanctuary at Orvieto and the Ara della Regina at Tarquinia. Smaller scale examples of altars of similar format can be found at Pieve a Socana, Punta della Vipera, Vignanello, and Marzabotto. The terracottas were molded and painted, attached by nails to a wooden frame, in two encircling rows around the temple. The boundaries of the roof were guarded by antefixes, forming liminal creatures, such as gorgons, satyrs, and maenads. On the ridge of the roof and in the pediments at each end, there were more elaborate large-scale sculptures. The most complete pedimental sculpture has been found at the fifth-century BC Pyrgi Temple A and represents the Theban cycle from Greek myth. The most complete roof ridge sculptures have been found at the Portonaccio temple at Veii and represent Turms, Hercle, and Aplu. Clear tripartite temple plans (with the central room larger than the two flanking) survive at the Belvedere temple of Orvieto and the Portonaccio temple of Veii. Columns were placed only to the front, also the sole location of steps. Thus in contrast to a Greek temple, the access to and perspective on an Etruscan temple was from the front and can therefore be seen not as a pale reflection of Greek approaches, but as distinctively different.See also RELIGION; SANCTUARIES.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.