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Ancient Estruscan Origins & Cities

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Published on Jun 14, 2014

Go on a journey to the ancient cities Volterra, Populonia and Cervetari and see why Etruscan civilization was famous for its wealth, fine ceramics, handicrafts and bustling trade, and how it was all lost in battles with the Greek colonies in southern Italy.

Etruscan civilization is the modern name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Latium. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci. Their Roman name is the origin of the terms Tuscany, which refers to their heartland, and Etruria, which can refer to their wider region.

In Attic Greek, the Etruscans were known as Τυρρηνοὶ (Tyrrhēnoi), earlier Tyrsenoi, from which the Romans derived the names Tyrrhēni (Etruscans), Tyrrhēnia (Etruria), and Mare Tyrrhēnum (Tyrrhenian Sea). The Etruscans called themselves Rasenna, which was syncopated to Rasna or Raśna, earlier T'rasena from whence comes the Roman and Greek names, prompting some to associate them with the Egyptian Teresh (Sea Peoples). It is cognate with the Attic T'latta, Doric and Koine Thalassa the word for the sea, . The word may also be related to the Hittite Taruisa

As distinguished by its unique language, this civilization endured from the time of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions (ca. 700 BC) until its assimilation into the Roman Republic in the late 4th century BC. At its maximum extent, during the foundational period of Rome and the Roman kingdom, it flourished in three confederacies of cities: of Etruria, of the Po valley with the eastern Alps, and of Latium and Campania.

Culture that is identifiably 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 7th century to a culture that was influenced by Hellenic Magna Graecian and Phonecian contacts. After 500 BC, the political destiny of Italy passed out of Etruscan hands. The latest mtDNA study (2013) shows that Etruscans appear to fall very close to a Neolithic population from Central Europe and to other Tuscan populations.

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