De Grummond's scholarly contribution is complemented by her achievement in the classroom…a different sort of classroom.
Nancy de Grummond
M. Lynette Thompson Professor of Classics
For archaeologist and art historian Dr. Nancy de Grummond, it began with a
"When I was in graduate school, there were no courses being offered in universities on the Etruscans," she explains. "Then, America's leading authority on this ancient civilization joined the program and offered a seminar. I enrolled and discovered a culture that has fascinated me ever since."
And along the way, she has become one of the world's authorities on the Etruscans.
De Grummond, the M. Lynette Thompson Professor of Classics, has focused particularly on Etruscan mirrors. Produced before glass was invented, these bronze discs have a convex side that slightly distorts the reflection. But on the reverse side, which an artist would decorate with an incised line drawing depicting a scene from mythology or daily life, de Grummond discovered an accurate reflection of Etruscan culture.
Her studies have thus far culminated in A Guide to Etruscan Mirrors, considered one of the authoritative works on the subject, and two new books: The Religion of the Etruscans and Etruscan Mythology, Sacred History and Legend (both forthcoming in early 2006).
De Grummond's scholarly contribution is complemented by her achievement in the classroom…a different sort of classroom. She teaches in a field school at a highly significant Etruscan and Roman site in Chianti, a region in Tuscany, Italy.
With permission and cooperation from the Italian government, de Grummond has, since 1983, directed a six-week summer field school at a site called Cetamura, where students gain experience in archaeology, and scholars and the public gain knowledge of ancient life.
At Cetamura, de Grummond and students unearth remains from the daily life of mostly lower-status Etruscans, from kilns to broken pottery and animal bones, and the occasional upper-class object, such as a carved scarab (a ring-stone used to create sealings).
De Grummond's efforts to preserve antiquity are complicated by fortune hunters, who sometimes plunder and vandalize Cetamura in search of valuables, such as coins, that can be sold illegally to private collectors.
"They ruin our chance to collect information from the site by doing a scientific excavation," she explains. "We lose both actual objects and invaluable information."
Still, de Grummond feels extraordinarily fortunate that FSU has provided a nurturing environment for Etruscan studies. But she continues to hope that the greatest find in this field is yet to come."We don't yet have a surviving text, something equivalent to the Bible or extant texts from the Greeks and Romans," she says. "Thus far we've relied on short inscriptions and art to see into the Etruscan way of life. So for now, the Etruscans remain mysterious—though a little less so every day."