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The Etruscans (and their influence on early Rome)
Terms in this set (31)
The Etruscans occupied that part of Italy between the Rivers Tiber and Arno that is now called Tuscany, and formerly Etruria. They contributed significantly to the development of the region and the later culture of the Romans.
Villanovan Phase ca. 10th-8th cent. BCE; Orientalizing Period ca.8th -6th cent. BCE; Archaic Period ca. 6th-5th cent. BCE; Classic Period ca. 480-300 BCE; Hellenistic Period ca. 300-100 BCE. The last three phases reflect Greek civilisation. They flourished from the 8th to 5th centuries BCE especially, and started declining after the lose of Veii in 510 BCE, loss of naval supremacy after 474,
the arrival of Celts in 5th century, and the destruction of major centres in early 4th century.
The Etruscans were organised into autonomous city-states (called in populi in Latin, and ethnoi in Greek) which were affiliated in a politico-religious confederation (the "Etruscan League"). The various city states (populi) were characterised by political fragmentation and local autonomy. It is possible that conquered towns maintained a sort of limited autonomy even when they were absorbed into a major "populus". Some of the settlements were scattered in a relatively limited space (Veii, Caere, Tarquinia, Vulci) and their organisation can be compared with the Greek colonies in South Italy. Each city states had its own political and cultural characteristics (e.g. the artistic specialisation in funerary paintings of Tarquinia, funerary architecture of Caere, bronze making and sculpture of Vulci, etc). The Etruscan were associated in a loose confederacy formed by 12 towns (15 for some authors), this had limited political binding powers. There were regular meetings held at Volsini (Orvieto) at the sanctuary of Voltumnae (Fanum Voltumnae), where in addition to political councils (concilia) pan-Etruscan games were also organised. There was no political power which encompassed all Etruscan entities, only vague connections & meetings to discuss rituals, etc. They were also competing between each other.
The Origins of the Etruscans
There are contrasting accounts regarding their origins: Herodotus says they originated from Lydia (in Western Turkey) and Dionysus of Halicarnassus maintains their local (Italic) origin. Beside the theory of "Lydian" and "native" origins there is a third, modern theory which states that the Etruscans formed as an amalgamation of different groups and traditions through the centuries. There are a number of Latin & Greek sources, but no Etruscan sources discussing their origins. Connections with the Near Eastern World.
Etruscan is not related to other languages of Italy and is not Indo-European. First inscriptions are known from the 7th century. Their alphabetic script has connections with Euboean Greek of colonists in South Italy (Pithecussa, Ischia Island, Cuma); the alphabet has either 26 letters or, more commonly, 23. The script was adapted from the archaic Greek script. Scholars are still debating whether there are Near Eastern influences on the language. They had constant relations with the Phonecians who settled in Carthage - we know of a treaty between them.
Etruscan Language: Bilingual Inscription
Bilingual inscription on gold leafs in Etruscan and Phoenician from the temple of Pyrgi built by the ruler of Caere (Cerveteri), Thefarie Velinas for the Etruscan goddess Uni (identified with the Roman Juno) and the Phoenician Astarte, 500 BCE circa. The inscription is semi-bilingual, not proper bi-lingual, because its not word-by-word. It says that the temple of the goddess Uni is the goddess Astarte.
Etruscan religion combines local, Greek and Eastern aspects. Local tradition: sacred supreme unfathomable entities - these are divine entities which are always present, but impossible to see unless you're a seer or about to die (Charun and Vanth). Local tradition mingled with the Greek mythology brought about a gradual individualisation of the divinities and their sphere of influence and the anthropomorphisation of the divine/sacred entities. Sometimes performed human sacrifice.
Etruscan Religion: Haruspicy and Omen Reading
Practiced haruspicy: the interpretation of the organs of sacrificed animals. Also divined through examination of thunder, the flight of birds. The seers - augures - performed a ritual in order to generate sacred spaces (templum). These could be proper templar structures, but also the sacrificial victim's liver was a templum, as well as the sector of the sky to be observed for the passage of birds (myth of Romulus and Remus). They defined sacred spaces on which to build temples.Etruscan priests were training themselves - the bronze model of a liver gives an indication. The Babylonians also practiced haruspicy.
Etruscan Religion's influence on Rome
The Etrusca disciplina was the aspect of religion in which the Romans felt most strongly the influence of the Etruscans. It is thanks to the fact that the Romans adopted this ritual that it has come down to us. According to Varro, the ritual surrounding the foundation of Rome was based on the ritual of the foundation of Etruscan cities. During the Punic wars Rome made use of haruspices (Etruscan diviners) brought in from Etruria (in fact there were no haruspices among the Roman high priests). During the 2nd century BCE, perhaps after the discovery of impostors, the Roman Senate decreed that there should be a fixed number of people authorised to practise divination: it is possibly at this time that the college of the sixty haruspices was instituted in Tarquinia. Under Emperor Claudius the discipline of divination was included among the branches of the official Roman religion.
The Romans translated the books of rituals & omen interpretation. The omen priests are integrated into Roman religion. Introduction of the triumphal procession of a victorious general along the Sacra via.
Etruscan Religion: Vanth
Connected with the passage of life/death and the afterlife. A strange deity. A female demon of death. She usually holds snake, torch & key. Seeing Vanth means you're about to die.
Etruscan Religion: Charun
Carries a hammer, which is used to strike the victim on the head. The last rites performed by Etruscan priests included tapping the forehead of the deceased with a small hammer. Seeing Charun means you're about to die. A strange deity.
Etruscan Religion: Tin/Tinia
The main Etruscan god. A thunder-god like Zeus, who forms a triad with Uni (Juno) and Menrva/Minerva.
Etruscan Religion: links to Greece, Rome, and the Near East
Sethlans was later identified with (Hephaestus/Vulcan), and Turms was later identified with Hermes/Mercury. Apulu/Aplu(Apollo), Aritimi/Artumes (Artemis), and Hercle (Herakles) are of Greek origin. Neptune and Mars are encountered in later Roman religion. Astarte was from the Near East and was associated to Uni in the gold inscription from Pyrgi (treaty between Caere and Carthage).
Compared to the Greek and Roman society the Etruscan women apparently enjoyed a better condition (although still subordinated); family was valued and intimacy was celebrated in funerary contexts. Men and women sat on the same couch at banquets - the women sitting at the banquets in Etruscan paintings aren't prostitutes, but wives. Etruscan men and women were shown sharing gestures of affection. Scenes of intimate affection between husband and wife were depicted on sarcophagi lids 4th-3rd century BCE.
Theopompus on Etruscan women
Writes that: "Sharing wives is an established Etruscan custom. Etruscan women take particular care of their bodies and exercise often, sometimes along with the men, and sometimes by themselves. It is not a disgrace for them to be seen naked. They do not share their couches with their husbands but with the other men who happen to be present, and they propose toasts to anyone they choose. They are expert drinkers and very attractive.
The Etruscans raise all the children that are born, without knowing who their fathers are. The children live the way their parents live, often attending drinking parties and having sexual relations with all the women. It is no disgrace for them to do anything in the open, or to be seen having it done to them, for they consider it a native custom. So far from thinking it disgraceful, they say when someone ask to see the master of the house, and he is making love, that he is doing so-and-so, calling the indecent action by its name.
When they are having sexual relations either with courtesans or within their family, they do as follows: after they have stopped drinking and are about to go to bed, while the lamps are still lit, servants bring in courtesans, or boys, or sometimes even their wives. And when they have enjoyed these they bring in boys, and make love to them. They sometimes make love and have intercourse while people are watching them, but most of the time they put screens woven of sticks around the beds, and throw cloths on top of them.
They are keen on making love to women, but they particularly enjoy boys and youths. The youths in Etruria are very good-looking, because they live in luxury and keep their bodies smooth. In fact all the barbarians in the West use pitch to pull out and shave off the hair on their bodies.
Villanovan culture: tombs
A culture typical of the Italian peninsula. Typical of Villanovan (at least aristocratic) tombs is a clear distinction of gender. Male tombs are indicated by weapons, razors, containers, conical vases. Vases with only one handle were for funerary uses. Usually contained the ashes. Tombs can be simple shafts or well shafts. Can have large containers. Urns mirror houses throughout the different architectural phases.
Villanovan culture: women
A tintinnabulum (like a little bell) shows women working on textile activities. This indicates that women were involved in this activity, and was an important part of the economy. The women were sitting on a particularly shaped chair. Like a throne made of wood, a ritual is shown on the bottom section, as is weaving. Also show the importance of these textiles
Aristocratic women were superintending the domestic production of textile material in ancient societies. Weaving was important in many cultures. For the Mediterranean world of the 8th century BCE this can be exemplified by the figure of Penelope in the Odyssey. The archaeological evidence shows numerous women's tomb with spinning tools as well as many artefacts depicting textile activities. Aristocratic women and princesses were involved in this activity.
Etruscan mineral resources & development of long distance trade during the Orientalising Period. Transfer of goods and knowledge. Migrating specialists. Exchange of raw material. Offered metal - iron, copper, tin. Iron became from the 2nd millennium/1st millennium BCE the new technology - everyone wanted iron. Villanovan centres became important. Suddenly exposed to other cultural influences. Sometimes artists and traders settled in Etruscan lands. They imported ivory, gold, etc. Imported many objects like vases. The Orientalising Period was actually more complex than just the impact of the oriental world. Can see Egyptian elements: non-sensical hieroglyphics as decoration.
Orientalising Period: Funerary Architecture
Change in Funerary Architecture can be detected from the 7th- 6th century BCE to the 6th- 5th century BCE. The large tumuli of the princely families are gradually supplanted by more regularly arranged tombs, which reflect a new urban organisation of the space as well as radical social transformations (from a strictly aristocratic to a more oligarchic leadership). This can be exemplified by the necropolises (cemeteries) at Cerveteri. Transformation of funerary spaces - more and more focus on the individual, though there are still family tombs. Canopic vases - in the shape of the individual. Meant to receive offerings. Contain the ashes. Later containers - sarcophagi. Only ashes inside, not bodies. Depict the person inside. Husband and wife are the same size - husband not bigger. Looking at the Greek world for inspiration. Also Carthaginian elements.
Orientalising Period: Art
Artistic traditions incorporate Greek influence (styles and mythical narratives) from South Italy and other Mediterranean Greek centres. Adaptation of Greek myths into an Etruscan context. We know they had funerary banquets. Had funeral games - of Etruscan origin.
Orientalising Period: Culture
From the 6th-5th cent through to the 3rd-2nd cent BCE Etruscan centres played a major role for the diffusion of the Greek culture (importation and imitation of Classical vases and other artefacts). The majority of the Greek vases have been found in Etruscan tombs - very few from Greek tombs. The Etruscans were admirers of Greek objects, start imitating Greek objects.
The Etruscan kings of Rome: Etruscan influence on early Rome
The monarchical period, starting with the legendary foundation of Romulus can be distinguished in two different phases: the first regal period from the second half of 8th to the end of 7th c. BCE, comprising the first four kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, and Ancus Marcius; and the second regal period from the end of the 7th to the end of 6th c. BCE, counting the last three kings: the Etruscan L. Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and L. Tarquinius Superbus. With the Etruscan kings Rome reached the level of a great Mediterranean town with urban planning and monumental architecture, skilled traders, sophisticated elites and a powerful army. Much of her craft and trade was acquired from the Etruscan centres (metallurgy: bronze, gold; and clay industry: terracotta sculpture, architectural decoration, pottery). Down to the mid-Republican period Etruscan centres will still exert an influence on Roman art, culture and religion - both by persistent diffusion of Etruscan elements and by mediating those typically Greek and Hellenistic. It was through the culture of the Etruscans that the Romans were able to become more refined and at the same level of other aristocratic courts of the Mediterranean of the 6th century. It is during this time around the 6th century that Rome became important.
Roman Chronology: Archaeology
Period I 1000 - 900 BCE - Late Bronze Age, Period IIA 900 - 830 BCE - Iron Age, Period IIB 830 - 770 BCE, Period III 770 - 730 BCE, Period IVA 730 - 630 BCE - Early & Middle Orientalizing, Period IVB 630 - 570 BCE - Late Orientalizing. The archaic archaeological evidence can be complemented by the earliest historical accounts, which also include traditional mythical narratives, although these accounts were written in a much later period (Fabius Pictor, the main source for Livy and other ancient historians, lived in the 3rd c. BCE).
Roman Chronology: Traditional
753 Foundation of Rome (according to Varro), 753-715 Romulus, 715-672 Numa Pompilius, 672-640 Tullus Hostilius, 640-616 Ancus Marcius, 616-579 Tarquinius Priscus, 579-534 Servius Tullius, 534-510 Tarquinius Superbus, 509 Republican period - dedication of the temple of Jupiter Capitoline.
Before becoming a political power among the Italic peoples, the archaic settlement of Rome was growing into a regional centre located on the prominences flanking an excellent ford over the river Tiber near the Tiberina Insula/Tiber Island.
Rome: wall on the Palatine
Varro mentions an earthen wall for this period and recent excavations carried out on the slopes of the Palatine indicate the foundation of earthen ramparts around the 8th cent. BCE ("Wall of Romulus"). Contemporary to this are also the foundations of the huts on the Palatine (known as the "House of Romulus").
Rome: dating from archaeology
The pre-urban phase can be exemplified by the late Bronze Age settlements (10th c. BCE) of the Palatine and by the necropolis of the Forum (hut-urns). A gradual change from cremation to inhumation and the abandonment of the Forum's necropolis in favour of other areas on the Esquiline was underway during the 8th cent. BCE. This process was also parallel to a demographic increase. Burial evidence (10th - 6th c. BCE) presence of weapons, spinning equipment and luxury goods implying military activity, textile/weaving industry (rugs, clothes), importation of prestigious items for social elites. Gradual shifting from cremation to inhumation. Cremation: ashes in hut-urns, weapons (or spinning whorls in case of females), miniature pottery, all placed in a large jar (dolium). Inhumation: similar funerary goods deposited in the pit next to the deceased. During the Period IVA (730-630 BCE) corresponding to the Orientalizing period as a result of local trade with Etruria the imported material becomes more frequent (e.g. Greek pottery and Etruscan Bucchero from the sacred area of Sant' Omobono). Scarcity of evidence of burials for the 7th c. BCE (due to the various destructions and building activities). Aristocratic tombs of this period can be observed at Praeneste (Palestrina, circa 30 Km east of Rome), indicating close relations with Etruscan centres and Eastern Mediterranean cultures. The rich funerary goods from Praeneste and those from contemporary Caere can illustrate the cultural interaction between the Etruscan and Latin elites.
Rome: draining, filling and paving the Forum
Major changes in the settlement organisation of Rome occurred by the end of 7th c. BCE: filling of the lower part of the Forum, at the foot of the Capitol, subject to periodical flooding (some 10/20,000 sq m of soil were filling a depression deep up to 2 m); the paving of the Forum (in various stages and completed by the end of the Monarchy); the draining of the area channelling the rainfall and runoff from the surrounding hills and the sewage into a ditch (Cloaca Maxima).
Rome: Forum Romanum Lapis Niger
The formation of a permanent public area of the Forum following the paving of the "reclaimed" area resulted in the creation of the political space of early Rome. This can be considered as the accomplishment of the process of amalgamation (synoecism) which was already underway involving the various settlements on the Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Esquiline and Aventine. The Forum became the place where the Senate was located and where the people met in assembly (comitium), where speeches and elections were held, and the king acclaimed. By early 6th c. the urban area covered some 285 hectares with a population estimated between 20 and 30,000 people (think of the military potential).
Rome: construction of stone temples based on Etruscan models
The large Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Capitoline, attributed to Tarquinius Priscus) with three halls to host cultic statues (Capitoline Triad: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), excavated the massive podium (61 x 55 m) and architectural decorative fragments. Temple of Diana on the Aventine (attributed to Servius Tullius). Temple of Fortuna and Mater Matuta in the Forum Boarium (sacred area of Sant' Omobono at the foot of the Capitoline), the market area of the ancient port (parallels with the temple of Pyrgi).
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