Plaque, 600–450 BCE
Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Permanent Collection of the Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
The hammered gold medallion is Etruscan in origin. The Etruscans were a group who inhabited an area in northern Italy beginning in the Iron Age (approximately 900 BCE) until they were eventually subdued by the Romans in the 3rd century BCE. Etruscan civilization was at its height during the 4th century BCE. During this time, a period of immense cultural exchange, they were a tremendous influence on the Greeks and Romans.
Aspects of Etruscan designed temple architecture can be seen in Ancient Rome's architectural designs – most notably a triangular pediment with relief sculptures. Mythological scenes and figures from Greece appear on both Etruscan and Roman art, and objects created in each culture can be found in archaeological sites in the other cultural areas proving that they were buying or trading each other's goods and art.
The gold medallion depicts two men in arms and was created using a hammered technique, similar to the later French repoussé, from the back to develop the raised decorative surface. The medallion dates to the Early or Archaic Etruscan period (700–500 BCE).
The gold medallion could have been jewelry or found in a burial context. Considering it would have cost a considerable amount of money at the time, it is reasonable to assume that it might have been used as a grave good and buried with its owner.