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The Etruscans, like the contemporary cultures of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome had a persistent military tradition. In addition to marking the rank and power of certain individuals in Etruscan culture, warfare was a considerable economic boon to Etruscan civilization. Like many ancient societies, the Etruscans conducted campaigns during summer months; raiding neighboring areas, attempting to gain territory and combating piracy as a means of acquiring valuable resources such as land, prestige goods and slaves. It is also likely individuals taken in battle would be ransomed back to their families and clans at high cost. Prisoners could also potentially be sacrificed on tombs to honor fallen leaders of Etruscan society, not unlike the sacrifices made by Achilles for Patroclus.
The written record of the period of Etruscan is fragmentary but it is generally believed that the Etruscans vied with the early Romans for control of the central Italian peninsula for nearly two centuries (c. 700 B.C. – c. 500 B.C.) before becoming one of the first neighboring cultures to succumb to Roman expansion.
In the Battle of Cumae (474 B.C.), the Etruscans and allies were defeated in the waters off Cumae by the combined navies of Cumae and Syracuse. This defeat successfully blocked the southern expansion of Etruscan influence and marked the beginning of territorial loss in southern Italy.
In the Roman–Etruscan Wars, Roman authors wrote accounts of a drawn out siege on the city of Veii. According to the Roces, the army of Rome unsuccessfully laid siege to the Etruscan city of Veii for 9 years before they were able to tunnel beneath the walls of the city and bring about Veii's downfall. The veracity of the account is difficult to determine, because the accounts are told as part of the biography of Marcus Furius Camillus, a legendary figure in Roman history. Livy and Plutarch wrote about Camillus long after his death.
In addition to written sources, the archaeological record provides evidence for the Etruscan military and warfare. Tombs of wealthy Etruscans consistently contain either representative sculpture of weaponry and armour, or the items themselves. The varieties of shields, helms, armour and weaponry vary according to date and location, but can still be organized into broad stylistic categories.
Several Etruscan shields have been recovered from Etruscan grave sites. The shields are traditionally decorated bronze circular disks measuring around a yard across. Earlier Etruscan shields are flat and later examples have a slightly convex curve across the body of the shield. The later styles bear close resemblance to contemporary Greek models. There are several helmet designs found at Etruscan sites, the most distinctively Etruscan being the so-called “crested helm” variety. The crest is fashioned by joining two embossed plates (or laminae ) into a high peak pointed crest. The high crest is frequently embossed with decoration. In addition to the Crested Helm a number of other varieties of helms have been found in Etruscan tombs. Often the design is a semi-spherical cap, with no decoration or with appliques. Another variation to the common semispherical cap is cheek guards attached by hinges.
Both swords and spears are frequently found at Etruscan tomb sites. Few examples of Etruscan swords survive in good condition, often only fragments of heavily oxidized blades. What does survive are generally robust spear points and wide blades not unlike early Roman weaponry. The bronze armour of the Etruscans is similar in style to that of the Greeks. One example from Tarquinia was two solid pieces connected by hinges at the hips and on either side of the neck. The example was anatomical in design, meaning the bronze plates were fashioned to look like the chest and back of a robust man. Another example from the Narce Tombs, northwest of the city of Rome, was from an earlier date and decorated like the Crested Helm. The Narce Tomb breast plate evidently would have restricted the range of motion considerable more and has led to hypotheses that it was intended for a stationary commander. Anatomical greaves have also been found in Etruscan tombs.
Some of what is known about the arms and armour of the Etruscans is not based on actual equipment but rather sculpted duplicates. "The Tomb of Reliefs" at Cerveteri is a rock-hewn tomb with relief and stucco relief work painted to look as if the dead would be provided with all necessary goods to live comfortably in the tomb. This tomb provides a great deal of beneficial insight to the several types of Etruscan material culture including weapons. Among the decorations were a number of life sized weapons, items of armour and shields.
The Etruscan civilization of ancient Italy covered a territory, at its greatest extent, of roughly what is now Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio, as well as parts of what are now the Po Valley, Emilia-Romagna, south-eastern Lombardy, southern Veneto, and Campania.
Veii was an important ancient Etruscan city situated on the southern limits of Etruria and only 16 km (9.9 mi) north-northwest of Rome, Italy. It now lies in Isola Farnese, in the comune of Rome. Many other sites associated with and in the city-state of Veii are in Formello, immediately to the north. Formello is named after the drainage channels that were first created by the Veians.
Etruria was a region of Central Italy, located in an area that covered part of what are now Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria.
The pilum was a javelin commonly used by the Roman army in ancient times. It was generally about 2 metres long overall, consisting of an iron shank about 7 millimetres (0.28 in) in diameter and 60 centimetres (24 in) long with a pyramidal head. The shank was joined to the wooden shaft by either a socket or a flat tang.
Marcus Furius Camillus was a Roman soldier and statesman of the patrician class. According to Livy and Plutarch, Camillus triumphed four times, was five times dictator, and was honoured with the title of Second Founder of Rome.
Falerii was a city in southern Etruria, 50 km northeast of Rome, 34 km from Veii and about 1.5 km west of the ancient Via Flaminia. It was the main city of the Falisci, a people whose language was Faliscan and was part of the Latino-Faliscan language group. The Ager Faliscus, which included the towns of Capena, Nepet, and Sutrium, was close to the Monti Cimini.
Falisci is the ancient Roman exonym for an Italic people who lived in what is now northern Lazio, on the Etruscan side of the Tiber River. They spoke an Italic language, Faliscan, closely akin to Latin. Originally a sovereign state, politically and socially they supported the Etruscans, joining the Etruscan League. This conviction and affiliation led to their ultimate near destruction and total subjugation by Rome.
The Battle of the Allia was a battle fought c. 387 BC between the Senones – a Gallic tribe led by Brennus who had invaded northern Italy – and the Roman Republic. The battle was fought at the confluence of the Tiber and Allia rivers, 11 Roman miles north of Rome. The Romans were routed and Rome was subsequently sacked by the Senones. According to scholar Piero Treves, "the absence of any archaeological evidence for a destruction-level of this date suggests that [this] sack of Rome was superficial only."
Clusium was an ancient city in Italy, one of several found at the site. The current municipality of Chiusi (Tuscany) partly overlaps this Roman walled city. The Roman city remodeled an earlier Etruscan city, Clevsin, found in the territory of a prehistoric culture, possibly also Etruscan or proto-Etruscan. The site is located in northern central Italy on the west side of the Apennines.
The city of Rome, founded in a strategic location among a war-like people, needed to concern itself with military activity from the start. As Rome grew, its military needs changed. This article covers the military establishment of the Roman kingdom up to about 300BC.
The Tomb of the Roaring Lions is an archaeological site at the ancient city of Veii, Italy. It is best known for its well-preserved fresco paintings of four feline-like creatures, believed by archaeologists to depict lions. The tomb is believed to be one of the oldest painted tombs in the western Mediterranean, dating back to 690 BCE. The discovery of the Tomb allowed archaeologists a greater insight into funerary practices amongst the Etruscan people, while providing insight into art movements around this period of time. The fresco paintings on the wall of the tomb are a product of advances in trade that allowed artists in Veii to be exposed to art making practices and styles of drawing originating from different cultures, in particular geometric art movements in Greece. The lions were originally assumed to be caricatures of lions – created by artists who had most likely never seen the real animal in flesh before.
Bucchero is a class of ceramics produced in central Italy by the region's pre-Roman Etruscan population. This Italian word is derived from the Latin poculum, a drinking-vessel, perhaps through the Spanish búcaro, or the Portuguese púcaro.
Etruscan history is the written record of Etruscan civilization compiled mainly by Greek and Roman authors. Apart from their inscriptions, from which information mainly of a sociological character can be extracted, the Etruscans left no surviving history of their own, nor is there any mention in the Roman authors that any was ever written. Remnants of Etruscan writings are almost exclusively concerned with religion.
Etruscan cities were a group of ancient settlements that shared a common Etruscan language and culture, even though they were independent city-states. They flourished over a large part of the northern half of Italy starting from the Iron Age, and in some cases reached a substantial level of wealth and power. They were eventually assimilated first by Italics in the south, then by Celts in the north and finally in Etruria itself by the growing Roman Republic.
Etruscan art was produced by the Etruscan civilization in central Italy between the 10th and 1st centuries BC. From around 750 BC it was heavily influenced by Greek art, which was imported by the Etruscans, but always retained distinct characteristics. Particularly strong in this tradition were figurative sculpture in terracotta, wall-painting and metalworking especially in bronze. Jewellery and engraved gems of high quality were produced.
In antiquity, several theses were elaborated on the origin of the Etruscans that can be summarized into three main hypotheses. The first is the autochthonous development in situ out of the Villanovan culture, as claimed by the Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus who described the Etruscans as indigenous people who had always lived in Etruria. The second is a migration from the Aegean sea, as claimed by two Greek historians: Herodotus, who described them as a group of immigrants from Lydia in Anatolia, and Hellanicus of Lesbos who claimed that the Tyrrhenians were the Pelasgians originally from Thessaly, Greece, who entered Italy at the head of the Adriatic sea. The third hypotheses was reported by Livy and Pliny the Elder, and puts the Etruscans in the context of the Rhaetian people to the north and other populations living in the Alps.
The Roman–Etruscan Wars were a series of wars fought between ancient Rome and the Etruscans. Information about many of the wars is limited, particularly those in the early parts of Rome's history, and in large part is known from ancient texts alone. The conquest of Etruria was completed in 265–264 BC.
Narce was a Faliscan settlement in Italy located 5 kilometers south of Falerii. Its residents spoke an Italic language related to Latin. It was inhabited from the 2nd millennium to the 3rd century B.C. The ancient name of the settlement is uncertain, but it may have been called Fescennium.
Etruscan architecture was created between about 900 BC and 27 BC, when the expanding civilization of ancient Rome finally absorbed Etruscan civilization. The Etruscans were considerable builders in stone, wood and other materials of temples, houses, tombs and city walls, as well as bridges and roads. The only structures remaining in quantity in anything like their original condition are tombs and walls, but through archaeology and other sources we have a good deal of information on what once existed.
In ancient Italy, the Etruscan "Lega dei popoli" was a league comprising several towns — usually, but not necessarily, twelve — located in the areas that today are known as Tuscany, western Umbria and northern Lazio.