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The Etruria & the Etruscans

Etruria usually referred to in Greek and Latin source texts as Tyrrhenia was a region of Central Italy, located in an area that covered part of what now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna and Umbria. A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D.H. Lawrence's Sketches of Etruscan Places and other Italian essays.

The ancient people of Etruria are labelled Etruscans and their complex culture was centred on numerous city-states that rose during the Villanovan period in the ninth century BC and were very powerful during the Orientalising and Archaic periods. The Etruscans were a dominant culture in Italy by 650 BC, surpassing other ancient Italic peoples such as the Ligurians, and their influence may be seen beyond Etruria's confines in the Po River Valley and Latium, as well as in Campania and through their contact with the Greek colonies in Southern Italy (including Sicily). Indeed, at some Etruscan tombs, such at those of the Tumulus di Montefortini at Comeana (see Carmignano) in Tuscany, physical evidence of trade has been found in the form of grave goods fine faience ware cups are particularly notable examples. Such trade occurred either directly with Egypt, or through intermediaries such as Greek or Etruscan sailors.

photo by wikipedia

Rome was influenced strongly by the Etruscans, with a series of Etruscan kings ruling at Rome until 509 BC when the last Etruscan king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was removed from power and the Roman Republic was established. The Etruscans are credited with influencing Rome's architecture and ritual practice; it was under the Etruscan kings that important structures such as the Capitolium, Cloaca Maxima, and Via Sacra were realized.

The Etruscan civilization was responsible for much of the Greek culture imported into early Republican Rome, including the twelve Olympian gods, the growing of olives and grapes, the Latin alphabet (adapted from the Greek alphabet), and architecture like the arch, sewerage and drainage systems.

The classical name Etruria was revived in the early 19th century, applied to the Kingdom of Etruria, an ephemeral creation of Napoleon I of France in Tuscany which existed from 1801 to 1807.

Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to the culture and way of life of a people of ancient Italy and Corsica whom the ancient Romans called Etrusci or Tusci. The Attic Greek word for them was Τυρρήνιοι (Tyrrhēnioi) from which Latin also drew the names Tyrrhēni (Etruscans), Tyrrhēnia (Etruria) and Tyrrhēnum mare (Tyrrhenian Sea). The Etruscans themselves used the term Rasenna, which was syncopated to Rasna or Raśna.

As distinguished by its own language, the civilization endured from an unknown prehistoric time prior to the foundation of Rome until its complete assimilation to Italic Rome in the Roman Republic. At its maximum extent during the foundation period of Rome and the Roman kingdom, it flourished in three confederacies: of Etruria, of the Po valley with the eastern Alps, and of Latium and Campania. Rome was sited in Etruscan territory. There is considerable evidence that early Rome was dominated by Etruscans until the Romans sacked Veii in 396 BC.

Culture that is identifiably and certainly Etruscan developed in Italy after about 800 BC approximately over the range of the preceding Iron Age Villanovan culture. The latter gave way in the seventh century to a culture that was influenced by Greek traders and Greek neighbors in Magna Graecia, the Hellenic civilization of southern Italy. (by Wikipedia)

 

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