June 2017

     The Etruscan civilization had an astounding culture and history. The Etruscans came into power in 768 BC, and thrived until 264 BC, when the Romans overthrew their last monarchic king in favour of  a Republic government after the Romans conquered the Etruscan territory between Umbria and Lazio. But 2500 years ago, the Etruscan rulers founded the city of Cività di Bagnoregio, Viterbo, as their capital, which overlooks the Tiber.

     Until recently, archaeology revealed that for centuries, Romans and Etruscans lived side by side and shared a unique culture, rich with pottery, golden artifacts, and metallic sculptures. Although myth claims the Romans overthrew the Etruscans in eighth century BC, and their monarchy was replaced in 264 BC, there is evidence to suggest Etruscans came along sooner than the Romans, with their walled homes, painted murals, advanced metallurgy, and non-Italic alphabet, as far back as the ninth century BC.

     The Etruscans were likely an Indo-European race who migrated to Italy and engaged in extensive sea-trade relationships with Egyptians and Greeks. Figures playing harps and dancing reveal this was a sea-faring people, fond of dance, music, and wine, with a talent for crafting gold jewelry and metal objects. Painted black bucchero ceramics, sculptures, and frescoes depict a married couple, mother with child, and many scenes of lush foliage with exotic animals. All indicate the Etruscans were big on family and nature.

     Another Etruscan theme was the military. Evidence for interest in defense was visible in engraved silver panels, a bronze sculpture of Mars of Todi and Etruscan soldier. One of archaeology’s biggest finds is a great circular Etruscan Temple, built in the fourth century BC, Tuscany. Cato conquered it at the city Fiesole in 90 BC, after an arduous siege.

     To this day, there is still a mystery surrounding the Etruscans’ original starting point, and the motivating logic behind their migration. Where did they come from?