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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

ETSU Faculty Reproduce Ancient Etruscan Kiln

ETSU faculty members build a reproduction of an ancient Etruscan kiln in Italy
ETSU faculty members build a reproduction of an ancient Etruscan kiln in Italy

October 11, 2010

JOHNSON CITY, TN — During the past summer, Don Davis of the East Tennessee State University Department of Art and Design, enlisted the aid of Dr. Richard Kortum of the ETSU Department of Philosophy and Humanities; Olivier Rollin, an artist and designer who resides in Asheville and Paris; Jon Bowers, ETSU artist-in-residence for ceramics; and John Simmons, a recent ETSU graduate with a master of fine arts degree to travel to Italy to construct and fire a full-size reproduction of an ancient Etruscan kiln.

The "Nuovo Forno Etrusco" project began in the summer of 2007 during a conversation between Davis and Randall Stratton of Castello Spannocchia, the Italian site of Davis' summer ceramics course. The next summer, Davis followed up with a meeting of the two men and archaeologist Dr. Nancy T. de Grummond, who has excavated an Etruscan kiln from the second or third century B.C. at Cetamura.

In 2009, Davis constructed a model of the kiln for a museum exhibition, "The Sanctuary of the Etruscan Artisans at Cetamura Del Chianti: The Legacy of Alvaro Tracchi," in San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy.

With the support of an ETSU Summer Research Fellowship in Arts and Sciences and an ETSU Research Development Committee Grant, the ETSU group traveled to Spannocchia to build and fire a replica of the ancient kiln.

Construction was complete by the time students arrived for Davis two-week course at Spannocchia. Students visited museums and ancient sites, used local terracotta for their own clay works, and then fired them in the Nuovo Forno Etrusco.

For further information, contact Davis at (423) 439-7864 or

A! ExtraTopics: Achievements, Art