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Art and Culture
Somewhere between 900 and 500 BC, the
Italian peninsula was settled by a group of
people we call the Etruscans.
 The name they had for themselves was
Rasenna, and the Greeks called them
Tyrrhenioi, from which we get our present
name for the Tyrrhenian Sea. Romans
named them Etruscans.
 Archaeologists suspect that they came from
the eastern Mediterranean, possibly Asia
Minor, though there are several different
Etruscan Origins
Northern Origins
 Oriental (eastern) Origins
 No Origins Outside of Etruria
Northern Origins
 The
Northern Origins advocates point
to similarities of features of region to
the cultures of the peoples of the Alps.
 This includes such things as the
Terramare villages
– Prehistoric (Second millenium B.C.)
settlements in the Po River Valley built
on pilings and surrounded by an
embankment and moat to protect them
from flood waters as well as invaders.
Eastern Origins
The cultural features of the Etruscans also
show a similarity to cultures of the Middle
and Far East.
 Particularly in terms of artistic and pottery
In Situ development
Others argue that there was no influx of
 The Etruscan culture developed from
indigenous groups in that area.
 The groups were influenced by cultures to
the north and east.
mtDNA data
Geneticists from Italy and Spain
conducted a genetic study based on
mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 80 bone
samples taken from tombs dating from the
seventh century to the third century BC.
 This study found that they were more
related to each other than to the general
population of modern Italy. Recent studies
suggested a Near East origin.
Map of Etruscan Civilization
Etruscan Civilization
Civilization in north-eastern Italy between
the Appenine mountain range and the
Tyrrhenian Sea.
 Their civilization stretched from the Arno
river in the north to the Tiber river
towards the center of the Italian
 Civilization in north-eastern Italy between
the Appenine mountain range and the
Tyrrhenian Sea.
Etruscan Political System
The Etruscans lived in independent,
fortified city-states; these city-states would
form small confederacies.
 In the earliest times, these city-states were
ruled by a monarch, but were later ruled by
oligarchies that governed through a council
and through elected officials.
 Like the surrounding peoples, the Etruscans
were largely an agrarian people, but they
also had a strong military, and used that
military to dominate all the surrounding
Some Etruscan rulers
Osiniu (at Clusium) probably early 1100s
Mezentius fl. c. 1100 ?
 Lausus (at Caere)
 Tyrsenos
 Velsu fl. 8th century
 Larthia (at Caere)
 Arimnestos (at Arimnus)
 Lars Porsena (at Clusium) fl. late 6th century
 Thefarie Velianas (at Caere) late 500s–early 400s
 Aruns (at Clusium) fl. c. 500
 Volumnius (at Veii) mid 400s–437
 Lars Tolumnius (at Veii) late 400s–428
Etruscan domination
These dominated populations were forced
to do the agricultural labor on the
Etruscan farms, so the Etruscans had time
to devote to commerce and industry.
 In the seventh and sixth centuries, the
Etruscan military had subjugated much of
Italy, including Rome, and regions outside
of Italy, such as the island of Corsica.
Differences among scholars exist concerning the
origins of the language.
 No one is quite sure whether it belongs to the
Indo - European family of languages of which
Greek and Latin are members, or whether the
Etruscan language was related to those spoken in
Lydia or Asia Minor.
 Though many inscriptions remain, these are
mostly found on tombs and monuments and
include a small group of phrases found repeatedly
on many monuments and tombs.
 Though we can pronounce words of the Etruscan
language today because they used an alphabet
similar to Greek, we don’t have a clue to their
Writing, con’d
There is a corpus of over 10,000 known Etruscan
inscriptions, with new ones being discovered each
 These are mainly short funerary or dedicatory
inscriptions, found on funerary urns, in tombs or on
objects dedicated in sanctuaries.
 Others are found on engraved bronze Etruscan
mirrors, where they label mythological figures or
give the name of the owner, and on coins, dice,
and pottery.
 Finally, there are graffiti scratched on pottery;
though their function is little understood, they
seem to include owners' names as well as numbers,
abbreviations, and non alphabetic signs.
The Tabula Cortonensis,
discovered near Cortona in
1992, but only made public
in June 1999, is made of
bronze (Approximate
dimensions: 50 by 30 cm,
with a mean thickness of 2-3
milimetres) and was cut into
eight fragments, of which
one unfortunately has
unfortunately been lost. We
can surmise that the tablet,
once it had served its
purpose, was broken in order
to re-use the metal.
Sea Life
The above picture shows a reconstruction of what this ship must have looked like.
The lines show the probably water level. From a wreck of an Etruscan ship found
off the island of Giglio, we have a reasonable idea of their construction. There is
evidence to show that planks were butted together (not overlapped) and bound in
place using thick ropes, which were passed through 2 centimetre (1") diameter
holes in the planks. The gaps were probably then sealed using pitch.
The ship was quite squat in shape, and this example was totally different from
Greek and Roman ships, in that it had two masts, rigged with square sails. The
fact that it had square sails meant that quite often they had to wait many days for
a favorable wind. Attached to the stern of the ship were two large steering oars.
According to ancient accounts from the Greeks and the Romans, merchant
vessels would sail within sight of land, and would weigh anchor at night in
shallower water close to shore. Anchors were made of stone, and were typically
Material culture
Many advances in pottery, art and
 Elaborate burial tombs.
Group of bucchero vessels, 7th-5th centuries BCE
Amphora of Exekias
Depicted on the
principal side of
this amphora, are
Achilles and Ajax
 Bronze Work
 Gold
 Terra Cotta Sculptures
Etruscan tomb of hunting and
fishing - Tarquinia (central Italy)
Etruscan tomb painting of Gladiators Tarquinia (central Italy)
Bronze helmet, 7th century BC.
Bronze cauldron
From the Regolini-Galassi tomb , 650 B.C
Gold bracelets
Regolini-Galassi tomb and date to about 675-650 B.C.
Gold Earrings
Pair of gold earrings, Etruscan, gold, 7th century, BC
Terra cotta head, Etruscan,
approx. 460 BC.
Terracotta couple
•Form the lid a
sarcophagus discovered
in the Bandicaccia
•It was the custom of
the Etruscans in Caere
to decorate the lids of
the sarcophagii of those
who could afford it,
depicted as though they
were reclining on a
banquet couch in the
prime of life.
 Velzna/Volsinii
 Tombs at Cerveteri and Tarquinia
Velathri (Volterra)
•Volterra's Etruscan walls
date from the 5th - 3rd
century BCE. With a total
length of 7.3 km and an
enclosed area of 116
hectares, they protected
vital fields, temples and
housing for about 25 000
•The Porta all'Arco, the
Porta di Diana and
impressive remains of the
walls survive to this day.
Velzna (Roman Volsinii)
The Etruscan City of
Velzna was probably
located near Orvieto
(Viterbo province, Italy).
Many Etruscan coins have
been found bearing the
Word "Velzna"
Etruscan Walled Town
Civita di Bagnoregio
Tomb at Cerveteri
The famous Etruscan tombs at Cerveteri are near the
modern day Italian city which has its foundation on the
old Etruscan city of Caere.
 The Banditaccia Necropolis, the major necropolis of
Caere (the other two are Monte Abetone and Sorbo), is
one of few sites in the Mediterranean which follows
Etruscan architectural and artistic development through
its seventh to third century B.C. course.
 Just outside the modern city, these earth and stone
outer layers form the outer shell for fantastic rock-cut
tombs; which are carved out of the natural tufa stone of
the region.
 Due to its excellent seaside position for trade, Caere is
extremely famous for its large number of Etruscan
artifacts interred in the tombs of the rich elite.
Tombs at Cerveteri
Photo is of the tumulus mounds which form the outer shell of tomb
Tomb of the Bas-relief
Dates from about the seventh-century B.C. The tombs of the Etruscans were
architecturally constructed to resemble their homes, and this is no exception. However,
the tombs at Caere have no frescoed walls, as is the case with its southern neighbor
Tarquinia. Instead, the walls are carved with heavy relief depicting many different
everyday objects.
Etruscan tomb at Cerveteri –
"tomb of reliefs"
Tumulus II
seventh to fifth-century B.C. tumulus mound
The Regolini-Galassi Tomb
Images are of the famous Regolini-Galassi tomb in the Banditaccia necropolis,
roughly dating about 675-650 B.C.
Regolini-Galassi tomb - Etrurian
This wheeled cart, dating to about 675-650 B.C., was
used to transport the corpse from Caere to the tomb in
the necropolis
The Etruscan Tombs at Tarquinia
Tumulus mounds which form the outer shell of the Etruscan tombs at Tarquinia.
Tomb of the Augurs
Tomb of the Augurs is probably the best known Etruscan tomb in Tarquinia.
Dating to about 530 B.C., it is in the Monterozzi necropolis.
Etruscan Musician, Tomb of
End of Etruria
In 504 BC, the Etruscans were driven from
territory when their army was defeated.
 After this, Tarquinius Superbus the
Etruscan king of Rome fell, and the
Roman republic formed; from this point
on, Roman history is rooted in Latin
culture instead of that of the Etruscans.
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