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Monday, March 26, 2012

Etruscans

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ʑ The facts of the Etruscan civilization eluded historians for millennia. Most of the stories


and tales of their society were either destroyed or were written by Greeks or Romans with a bias


in favor of the author’s city, so much so that it forced the reader to believe the Etruscans were


either a mysterious evil civilization with a penchant for piracy and a luxurious way of life, or an


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ancient race of no significance whatsoever. Because there were so many great ancient


civilizations to study, most people believed the stories of an irrelevant Empire to be true, until


recently, when archeological findings in the 100s led historians and archeologists to turn their


beliefs in a whole different direction. How much the Etruscan people may have directly


influenced western civilization is still a matter of some speculation, but their influences on the


later Roman culture are either directly evidenced or strongly suggested through much of the


Etruscan life style. This influence is not militaristic or political, but found in the arts and in


professional trades such as engineering, architecture and city planning. The Etruscans are now


recognized as “tireless cultivators, founders of cities, bold navigators, deft craftsmen; soldiers,


traders, builders of temples, dykes and forts,” and noteworthy artists.


The Etruscans ruled in Italy from 750 B.C. to 60 B.C., a flourishing Empire prior to the


time of the Roman conquest of the Etruscan cities. The Etruscan Empire had its beginnings


when the Roman culture was little more than a small group of huts that was the start of the


Roman community. Etruria, the region where the Etruscans began their habitation, occupied a


significant part of the northern Italian peninsula and there they built Italy’s first great civilization,


spreading an advanced and cultured society across the land. The ways of the Etruscans were


considered so different that the writings of authors from foreign lands, who included the


Etruscans in their works, considered them to be bizarre and alien. The Etruscans , however, do


not appear to have been aggressive conquers and it is now believed that they did not want to


make contact with other nations for mastery, but instead wanted to open trade, create allies, and


discover new land to found cities. This was perhaps due to the pre-Italian background of the


Etruscans, an obscure history with mysteries that are still unsolved.


The origins of the Etruscans are still a matter of controversy and have been the subject


of speculation from the first historian to chronicle Etruscan life, Herodotus, and later the Roman


historian, Livy. Herodotus’ accounts report that the Etruscans originated from Lydia on the


western coast of Asia Minor, and with them brought order and civilization to the Italian


peninsula’s barbaric environment. Herodotus explains that natives of Lydia, because of a long


famine, decided to divide the population into two groups, one remaining in Lydia with the king


and the other emigrating with the kings son in search of a new homeland. The land that became


Etruria more or less parallels the Italian coast, from the mountains of the Alps to the southern


coast. Livy reports that the Etruscans made their way up the Adriatic Sea and the Etruscans are


also known to have lived on the island of Lemnos, and in other localities on the northeastern


shores of the Aegean Sea. It is unlikely that the Etruscans were indigenous to Italy because


everything the Etruscans brought to Italy was new to that part of the world. Everything about


their culture, technology and architecture, farming methods and mines, crafts and industries,


customs and fashions, religion, language, way of life and military structure was totally different


from anything that had existed in the area before. Though the resemblance of their rituals and


religious practices, the funeral customs, and the similarities of language, the Etruscans are linked


to Lydia and Asia Minor. However, confusion may have been caused because, even with such


great similarities to other distant civilizations, the Etruscans appear to have had an amazing ability


to adapt to many of the Greek cultural customs. Moreover, because the Etruscan cities and


Empire was annihilated by about 00 B.C., what we know of them comes solely from tombs and


excavations, and archeologists searching a extinct civilization have difficulty finding a human


affinity for the Etruscan people. This is strange because the Etruscans left an abundance of


materials evidence so that we know what they looked like, how they lived, and a good deal about


their public and private customs so that we can glimpse into their internal lives. Etruscans have


developed a historical importance because they are mysterious, which intrigues historians, and for


what their culture provided and passed on to other civilizations. While they were the greatest


sailors of their time and ruled the entire Italian coast with such mastery of the sea that they were


feared by all other nations, their naval and military feats were a matter of legends, exciting


episodes and incidents of derring-do, the Etruscan’s legacy is not military, but is found in those


things revealed in artifacts of an advanced society and culture. Archeological findings will


continue to shed light on the beginnings of the civilization, but what has already been discovered


reveals the approach the Etruscans took toward settlement of land was highly successful and, at


the peak of the Etruscan’s rule, they reigned over the whole of Italy.


Over the span of the Etruscan Empire’s 500 year existence, it had four ages Gold, Silver,


Bronze and Black Iron. The period which historians call the Golden Age is the time of the


Etruscans greatest rule, a time of growth and expansion and hope that declined over centuries


until the Iron Age when men took the law into their own hands and Rome’s conquest of Etruria


was complete. With each age the Etruscans changed their lifestyle, which has led to the


discovery of many different types, styles and varieties of artifacts which show influences from


many areas surrounding the Mediterranean. Recently discovered artifacts are the key to


unraveling the Etruscan mysteries. The Etruscan artifacts suggest they were a thoughtful people,


and the Greeks seem to have greatly influenced them, especially in Etruscan art where Greek


mythological figures appear frequently. The Etruscans greatest artistic talent was in bronze, not


clay, but many vases have been recovered, a large number of which are covered in painted figures,


and it is from these that a significant part of Etruscan history has been gleaned. Bucchero ware,


the Etruscan’s famous black pottery, was known all throughout the Mediterranean area. Created


only by the City of Caere, Bucchero ware received it’s unique black color by firing the clay so that


the oxygen and iron formed a ferrous oxide bond which looks black. The figures painted on


these vases, frequently have replica paintings of Greek gods and goddesses, and many of these


even include the Greek, not Etruscan, title of the god. Another unique Etruscan pottery is the


Red-Figured vases, found at Caere and which show women, satyrs, and other individuals in a


variety of settings. However, as the Etruscan civilization expanded and their rule grew, the


Etruscans changed their style and technique of artwork. Soon it was only the basic idea that was


contrived from Greek mythology, and the works of art themselves were completely and uniquely


Etruscan. This is shown by art which is more influenced by nature, art which did not show the


gods at all but which depicted humans interacting with nature. From these vases historians have


learned the complex society that blossomed in Etruria and the figures show a variety of sports and


games, social scenes, music and dancing, military engagements, natural and super natural


subjects.


The region that was Etruria had twelve main cities on the Italian peninsula. There is no


authoritative list of the cities, but their names have been deduced to be Arretium (Arezzo), Caere


(Cerveteri), Clusium, Cortona, Perusia (Perugia), Populonia, Rusellae, Tarquinii (Tarquinia), Veii


(Veio), Vetulonia, Volaterrae (Volterra), and Vulci. The three most influential of the cities were


Vulci, Veii, and Caere, near coastal ports where the Etruscan sailors could shelter their merchant


and warships. The artistic differences among cities varied very little but the specialties of


particular cities did vary. Museums today, such as those in Rome, reveal “grand” works of


Etruscan art while others, such as Volterra, two thousand feet up in the hill country of Tuscany,


reveal simple items that show the story of every day life.


In addition to artistic talent, engineering and scientific skills are apparent among the


Etruscans, since the design of cities was along the four points of a compass with the temples lying


on the North and South points. When Etruscans decided the location of a city, ceremonies were


performed to consecrate the spot where the city was going to be built. The first settlements of


the Etruscans in the Tuscany area were in a hilly part of the northern Italian peninsula. This area


was too hilly to encourage purely geometric city schemes, but every city had three gates, each for


a road that converged to the main road leading to the city’s temples. The reason for this road


design was that temples were the focal point of city life and the most beautiful architectural


ornaments of a city. The temple was the most prominent structure in any Etruscan city.


Unfortunately, temples were built out of wood not marble or stone so only the foundation of


temples remain. The Etruscans were masters of masonry construction but decided not to use their


knowledge and skills for the building of their temples for various religious reasons. The design of


an Etruscan temple paralleled that of a Greek temple but with some distinct differences. The


temple itself rested on one tall base. This base was no wider than the cella, or indoor portion of a


temple, and only had steps on the South side leading into a deep porch. The porch was supported


by two rows of four columns each, one nearest the stairs and the other nearest the entrance to the


cella. Alike to the Greeks, the columns were Doric, but the Etruscans never used Ionic or


Corinthian columns, as do the Greeks and Romans. The cella was generally subdivided into three


subsections. The reasons behind the division was that Etruscan religion was dominated by a triad


of gods who were the predecessors to the Roman Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva. Therefore, the


layout for an Etruscans temple was squarish and closely related to domestic architecture of the


Etruscan living.


After moving from hilly Tuscany to flat Rome, Etruscan cities were engineered more


precisely and based on two main intersecting roads creating four subsections in the city, following


which the four sub sections could then be further divided. This form of road organization directly


influenced later engineers and was adopted by the Romans for their city structures. Etruscan


engineers worked in conjunction with religious persons. After consulting the omens, an augurer


would act as surveyor and use instruments and the position of the sun to determine what the


orientation of the city would be. The four points of the two main roads were laid out on the


four cardinal directions with the main temple at the northern point where there was no gate.


Secondary streets were parallel and perpendicular to the two main roads forming a checkerboard


pattern. The Romans adopted many of the concepts of the Etruscan road system; processional


roads and main roads leading up to temples, and road planning throughout the land including


similar concepts for cross country roads connecting cities. If Romans followed the Etruscan


roads between cities is not known, but the Etruscans had a network of road spread out over the


countryside which were the first in western Europe provided a model for the Roman’s great


military highways.


Although many questions about the Etruscans are still unanswered, relatively recent


findings have uncovered previously unknown facts. For instance, Etruscan people were small in


stature. According to paintings found in Etruscan ruins, together with recovered Etruscan


furnishings and clothes, the average height of Etruscan men was about five feet four inches.


Consequently, it is probably that height was a determining factor for the buildings and other


aspects of Etruscan life. Paintings and sculptures depict banquet couches and low foot benches


with men and women reclining and it is likely that the interior spaces of buildings, and the


dimensions of living areas and furnishings would have been designed proportionate to the


Etruscan people.


The advanced nature of the Etruscan culture is shown by their homes. Within the ruins and


remains of Etruria there is evidence of a sophisticated society where even small things, such as


clothing, marking social status. Etruscan wealth was measured in material items of valued


substance, such as gold, ivory and precious stones. During the sixth century B.C., wealthy


aristocratic Etruscans indulged themselves and bought all they could afford in an effort to create


luxurious living conditions. The Etruscans began the use of an atrium-type area, a courtyard


used for formal and informal occasions, and this too was adopted by the Romans. Unfortunately,


Etruscan atriums were generally constructed of soft materials and few are still standing for present


time investigation. For the period, Etruscan houses were of an improved designed and were


built from dried mud bricks with a heavy wooden frame. The usual home of a person from an


aristocratic position was about 100 square feet in a rectangle 0 by 40 feet, which may have


relevance to the average Etruscan’s stature. The house was set upon a foundation of tufa blocks,


which are a porous rock formed as a deposit of springs or streams. The pitched roof was covered


with terra cotta tiles that could range from small pieces to three feet long and eighteen inches


wide. Advanced architectural features are found in the roof, whcih extended far beyond the walls


of the house in order to protect the brick and timber from rain or other harsh weather conditions


and every door and window of an Etruscan home was framed by sturdy wooden posts and lintels.


Depending on the wealth of the homeowner, the gables and eaves of each house were decorated


as elaborately as a temple. The terra cotta reliefs were further decorated with pictures of animals


and monsters, as well as graphic designs.


On the backside of a house, a fenced outdoor courtyard led to the vestibule, or entrance


room. The vestibule was only a few feet wide but was nearly the length of the house itself. It is


this vestibule that evolved in to what was known as the atrium to the Romans. The vestibule


served many purposes to an Etruscan home. It was used for the delivery from merchants, a


passageway for servants to do their bidding, and also the servants living and sleeping quarters.


From the far side of the vestibule were doors with access to the other rooms of the house. These


doors stretched across the length of the vestibule and were side by side to one another so that any


part of the home could be accessed from the vestibule. Curiously, the location where members of


a family slept are still uncertain.


The center room of the home was small, about fifteen feet wide but had many functions.


During the day the owner of the home used this room for business while at night this room could


be transformed into a place of parties, banquets, and a room to sleep when guests were too drunk


to find their way home. Two of the side rooms of the home were used for a kitchen and a room


for storing food, grain, and wine.


Of all aspects of an Etruscan home, one of the most advanced is plumbing and waste


disposal. The Etruscans differed from the Romans and Greeks in that fact that they did not have


to manually empty their houses of waste because of their excellent plumbing lines. Lucius


Tarquinius, the first Etruscan King of Rome is credited with providing sewer service from the city


to the river. Stone-lined drains led from the house to the main ditch to provide discharge


plumbing wastes and waste water. Other terra cotta pipes were made to fit into one another to


bring fresh water from an elevated cisterns. Many houses, to bring water in even more easily, had


their own stone-lined wells within their courtyards.


The dress and social lives of Etruscans also varied in many ways from the Romans and


Greeks of that time, although there were some similarities. In order to keep the Etruscan


aristocrats happy in their luxurious life style, lower class citizens would work on their large farms


to provide for the many requests of the rich and powerful. According to frescoes and wall


paintings left by the Etruscans in the tombs of nobles and the wealthy, these members of highers


society held frequent banquets, perhaps even nightly. Men and women both ate the finest foods


and choice wines. They were entertained by dancers and musicians, who doubled as house


servants at other times. The Etruscans were apparently quite hedonistic and, at these sybaritic


banquets, men and women lounged on long divans and were served by naked young boys while


dancers wore transparent dresses. In many ways the Etruscan family was no different in general


makeup and structure than that of the Romans or Greeks, but, unlike their Oriental and Arab


contemporaries, the Etruscans did not practice polygamy, communal wife sharing, or incest within


families.


Social custom was important in Etruscan cities and is one of the most understood parts of


the culture due to the many vases, paintings and frescoes. Custom was shown in items such as the


clothing worn in Etruria, which eventually influenced the Roman toga. In the summer, men


wore round neck, close fitting robes, which reached down to the ankles. The left arm sleeve went


to the wrist, while the right arm only reached the elbow. The entire robe criss-crossed vertically


and horizontally, seeming as if the robe was tucked. The same type of garment was worn in the


winter, but the fabric was wool, not cotton or silk. Women wore short-sleeved tunics, light


colors, frequently embroidered. The material was pleated and reached the ankles. As did the


men, the women wore cotton or silk in the summer and wool in the winter. However, variety of


dress is also apparent in painting that show such things as flowered dresses, voluminous cloaks,


scarves and ankle high boots. Head wear also marked a person’s home or role in Etrurian society


and apparently could cause some confusion. Women might wear a tutulus, a high cap, and


because the Italian region did so much farming, hats were a very important necessity to everyday


farming life. Depending on what a person did for a living and where a person lived on the


waterways, determined if they wore hats. In the upper Po River valley region, both men and


women wore broad brimmed hats, whereas, in the lower Po valley, only the slaves, who worked


the fields, wore hats. Consequently, there were instances in which a person had to know where in


Etrusia they were to know the proper form of dress. The only other form of hat used by Etrurian


men was a helmet, of the type worn in battle. This helmet, worn by warriors, effected hair styles.


For the extra protection and padding for their helmet, men wore their hair parted down the middle


in braids which were wrapped around their heads. After the braids went out of style, men wore


their hair shorter, more clean cut, like Greek youths and apparently found some other form of


padding for their helmets. Women had more variety in hair styles, depending on the fashion of the


day. Women also wore braided hair under a hat, or one braid over the shoulder drawn up in a


knot and curls often framed the face.


An advanced society and personal riches were the products of Etruscan talents. The


Etruscans were skilled miners who exploited Italy’s natural resources, such as copper, lead, iron


and did extensive metal finish work. Etruscan metal workers were praised highly by the Romans


and Greeks for their work in bronze and precious metals. The Etruscans traded aggressively


with the Greek colonies south of Sicily and Ionia, and with Phoenician ports. Etruria was


founded on the trade of copper and iron, which were both soft metals and in great demand. This


much benefitted the Etruscans because the soil in the mountains of their homelands were iron rich


and easily mined. The iron mines in the Italian mountains were Europe’s first major industry and


it is probable that this ore was their biggest business and the basis of Etruria’s fabulous wealth.


With wealth also came education and professional trades such as medicine flourished. The


Etruscan doctor was a physician, dentist, oculist and pharmacist all at once and had a complete


stock of remedies to treat patients. Tradesmen produced goods of excellent quality, and good


foods, wines and oils were available.


In the ancient world, religious and social planning were directly related to nature and


natural sciences. Basic natural science was highly developed in Etruria and the Etruscan calendar


was based on the phases of the moon, as was the later Roman calendar. This calendar marked


festivals, the kings activities, and every eighth day, which was market day. The Etruscans loved


nature and went hunting, fishing and swimming often. Also, many people owned and raised


animals and owned or operated farms. Every year the valley areas would flood and, in order to


use this natural occurrence to accomplish two tasks � draining the valley and irrigating the dryer


areas � the Etruscans invented methods for irrigation. Irrigation allows farmers to expand their


growing season and growing areas, and by doing this the Etruscans would have been able to


produce more of the items they needed and would have been less dependent on other nations for


foods. Their ability to be self-sufficient and independent would have allowed them the


opportunity to develop a broad range of talents and Etruscans became miners, farmers, ranchers,


sailors, merchants and, when necessary, warriors.


Societies are often judged by their appreciation of the arts and music was a huge part of


Etruscan life. Every Etruscan youth was taught music, either by rote or by ear, as depicted in


many Etruscan frescos. It is believed that, just as important as the music was to society, so was


the singing and dancing that accompanied the music. The classical Greek and Etruscan style of


music were very similar There were many different forms of dancing, some more casual and one


for every formal occasion such as courting and formal balls. Even funerals developed a specific


style of dance appropriately entitled funereal dancing. In courting, the way the women danced


was called “Round” and the men’s style was “Martial”. The Etruscans did not dance in couples,


but stood facing each other, following their own dance. Interestingly, though the Etruscan lifestyle


included many types of dance, none are said to have been performed with extreme gracefulness.


Nevertheless, the Etruscans were great lovers of music and, with the Etruscan’s love of music


came a number of different instruments.


In Etruscan paintings and reliefs, a flute is often represented and is present in many every


day scenes depicting everything from bakers to thieves. This has caused historians to believe that


the flute or long double pipe, was the national and regional instrument of Etruria. Besides the


flute, the Etruscans had other wind instruments, including the trumpet, which they are credited


with inventing. The Etruscans had two forms of the trumpet. The first one was a straight bronze


tube sometimes curved at on end. The other was twisted like a ram’s horn. Rome adopted both


trumpet styles for their use. In addition, Etruscans has several varieties of stringed instruments


including the lyre, harp and cithara. The Etruscans also had entertainment in the form of plays


and they may have formed orchestras to be used for adding music to their plays. Because


gestures were often used in these plays, rather than dialogue, the Etruscans are also credited with


developing mime. Interestingly, while Rome followed much of the Etruscan lifestyle, unlike the


Greeks and Etruscans, the Romans love for music was never as deep or passionate.


Another difference between Etruscan and Roman societies was the place held by women.


“Women were not only equal members of society with their husbands and fathers, but enjoyed


much of the same status that ladies had in the Age of Chivalry. Their liberated condition, in fact,


was unique in the ancient world.” The massive amount of freedom Etruscan women enjoyed


caused the Romans to look down on the entire Etruscan civilization. Whereas, if a Roman


woman were to be respectable, she must be adapted to enjoying few freedoms, the Etruscan


women were used to being free. The Roman’s reasons for looking down upon Etruscan women


was that, instead of serving the men, the women considered themselves on a par with men and


even dined with the men. Etruscan women went outside a great deal, unlike Greek and Roman


women, who lived in the shadows of their homes. In formal dress, women went to dances,


concerts, and sporting events such a boxing and chariot racing. This made Etruscan women seem


indiscrete to the Romans but, although the Romans looked down upon Etruscan women, many


Romans had Etruscan brides. When the Roman men brought their Etruscan brides home, the men


were disgraced at the ladies lack of manners and soon forced their wives to fit Roman standards.


Similarly, the Greeks, who were very narrow minded, looked on a woman’s rights as the worst


kind of social misbehavior.


If an Etruscan woman had a high enough rank, she was given a good education and, in


addition to social mixing and informal freedoms, Etruscan women were involved a great deal in


the politics of their cities. Nevertheless, even through women were granted equal rights in many


things, the Etruscan family was a patriarchy and, as far as the formal the order of the family was


designed, women always came second. This is somewhat confusing because in Lydia, the


supposed original Etruscan homeland, the society is matriarchal such that children are called by


their mother’s name not their father’s. Etruscans were paternalistic and used the same authority


of the pater familias the Romans gave to the head of the family.


Complex and sophisticated religion was another sign of the Etruscan’s advanced society.


The Etruscans believed in a great connection between man, nature, celestial, terrestrial and even


the underworld. Everything was integrated in a huge rhythm. The Etruscan’s had a myth that


told the tale of how the basic law of their religion was written. According to the story, a farmer


saw a child rise up from the ground, but the child, Tages, was gifted with the wisdom of the


priests and kings. When the other priests, the Lucumones of the twelve cities of Etruria, heard the


screams of the farmer, the priests came running to see what was wrong. When they arrived, the


child began to speak. As the child spoke, the priests wrote it down. These words became the


religious law for the Etruscans, the Diciplina Etrusca.


One key difference in Roman and Etruscan religion is Romans believed everything


happened because the gods willed it. The Etruscans, on the other hand, weren’t too worried


about gods, except as they might effect a person’s afterlife, and thought many events happened


just as events in the normal course of living. The Etruscans were not as paranoid about the god’s


intervention in everyday events, but were still god fearing people and were as bloody in their


rituals as the Romans. Their luxurious lives were a cause for their religious fervor and


thanksgiving. Also, because of their belief of an afterlife, it was a prime concern of Etruscans to


please the gods and thus to obtain a pleasurable post-death.


Like the Greeks and Romans, the Etruscans believed in a god hierarchy. There were


sixteen deities in the family of gods. Twelve of those sixteen were great gods, and eight of these


twelve had the right to hurl thunderbolts. Each thunderbolt was assigned to a specific god


differentiated by whatever color it was. The Etruscans had the same basic gods as the Greeks


and Romans, but all the groups had different names. Tinia, who is equivalent to the Greek god


Zeus and the Roman god Jupiter, was the head god and sat at the summit of the north. The


Etruscans also believed in an underworld similar to the Greeks. The Etruscan religion even


included a demon, Charun, who ferried dead souls across the River Styx. This demon parallels


the virtually identical Greek demon, Charon. Besides worshiping the main gods, Etruria’s minor


gods were worshiped in individual cults. Though little is know about the actual rituals, the


remains of the open air sanctuaries remain. The only known facts were found on paintings on the


walls of tombs. Religious ceremonies began with a trumpeter who wore clothes of the gods,


purple and gold. This trumpeter carried an ivory scepter crowned with laurel leaves. He was


followed by lectors, priests, prisoners, and the general public. The new custom of a religious


procession for the priests and other noble men was soon taken up as Roman tradition.


To ward off invasion by gods or outside forces, the sacrifices were better if from your


own country, and even better if from your own family. The Etruscans believed this to be true, and


were as hardened to human sacrifice and the sight of human suffering as the Romans, as shown by


ceremonies reproduced on Etruscan urns and frescoes. If “games” seen on frescoes were, in


fact, sacrifices and “the shedding of blood to maintain the flickering life of the dead, the savage


game shown in the fresco, can be understood.” This led to one of the most horrible fortune


telling styles in history in which a haruspices, or soothsayer, was trained to interpret the will of


the gods by examining the internal organs of animal and human sacrifices.


While human sacrifice may have seen barbaric, the Etruscans were known for their


elaborate and highly excessive tombs and funeral ceremonies. In order to accompany the


aristocratic lifestyle of the Etruscans, a “City of the Dead” was built. This city included streets and


plazas as would exist in a city of the living. Etruscan tombs differed houses because the tomb


replica homes were mainly carved out of solid rock. The tomb itself was approximately the


same size as an Etruscan hut but was highly more decorated in the amount of frescoes found on


the walls of the tombs. The beliefs that the Etruscans had was that the tomb was home for the


body and soul, so that the tomb must closely represent the life of the living as possible. Etruscans


tombs were carved out of soft stone in a round or rectangular shape. The shaping and building of


a tomb was taken more seriously by the Etruscans, as would a temple, because the Etruscans


believed if the dead was served well in the afterlife then they would not come back to haunt the


living. The actual sarcophagus for the dead was lavishly sculpted to show the deceased in a party


like atmosphere. The coffin was designed to resemble the deceased within. It was full length in


the shape of a divan with the dead lying on top as if they were about to banquet. Unlike most


Etruscans sculptures, coffins were most likely carved out of stone such as terra cotta instead of


bronze. Couples were usually buried together within the same tomb and even in the same


sarcophagus. To help the deceased, the tomb would often times be filled, like the Egyptians, with


the dead’s most valuable possessions, weapons, and food to provide for the afterlife. Each of the


items found in tombs, with the exception of food, included an engraving of some sort either to


show the decease’s power or the insignia of the family.


Another artistic aspect of the sophisticated society enjoyed by the Etruscans was visual


arts. Advanced engineering and elaborate art appear in temple structures. Though the


appearance of the size of the temples seemed to be large, they were squat, squarish shapes that


left room for few statues to be placed inside. The dividing of the temple into three regions would


have left the Etruscans with no place to arrange statues on the floor, and it is unlikely that the


wooden walls were strong enough to support the massive weight of a bronze statue. The


Etruscans were then forced to find another way of decorating their temples. Terra cotta plaques


covered the achitrave in the pediment, below the gable, above the porch. In one bold attempt to


add more artwork to the Temple to Apollo at Veii, the Etruscans adorned the temple roofs with


terra-cotta figures and constructed a monumental statue that stood on top of the gable ,at its


peak, in front of the stairs. Also on the two sides ridges of the temple and the top ridge four life


size statues stood. These statues added a very dramatic effect to this particular temple, but the


idea must have been a poorly received by the citizens because this technique of decorating a


temple was never used again.


The most important area of Etruscan art is tombs and the frescoes and other art works


found on Etruscan tomb walls. The frescoes are life size and cover whole walls from floor to


ceiling. The images depicted on the frescoes in the tombs are of dancers in the springtime. The


dancers are usually women in thin brightly colored dresses dancing in a woodland area to the


music of young boys. The reasoning for the gaiety of the artwork was the same as that for the


coffin, that is, the tomb represented the life of a party then the afterlife of the dead would be like a


party as well. Also, if the dead were content and entertained in the afterlife they would not have


the time to haunt the living who buried them. Along with the images of the living world every


tomb included a painting of the Etruscan god of the dead.


It is noteworthy that, just as other aspects of Etruscan living changed with their decline


over the centuries, so did the idea of burying the dead. During the decline, the Etruscans began to


cremate their dead and pour the ashes into urns. These urns were usually in the shape of a hut or


the head of a man. Then small holes were dug in a side of a hill were the urns were buried. If one


was rich or powerful enough to have a tomb built they were not filled with, as before, with joyous


paintings of dancers but with relief art. The images found on the reliefs was of fearful demons


from a most un-welcoming afterlife. One of the most feared of the demons was known as the


“Demon of Death.” The “Demon of Death” was said to take the life away from a person and


drag in down to the afterlife. The colors found on such tombs were not as bright but just as


bold as their predecessors. To create such bright and bold colors the Etruscans used a mixture of


water and plaster to paint the walls and ceiling of tombs. This combination seeped into the soft


stone walls preserving the artwork in excellent condition. Most of the information found about


Etruscan living was discovered within the wall of the tombs.


Throughout the long period of painting tomb walls the art and technique used to paint


them changes dramatically. In late tombs and burial chambers a tendency to create a realistic


style of painting and sculpture instead of the surreal artwork found in earlier works of Etruscan


art. Besides just paintings and frescoes the reliefs also are depicted in very real styling. Etruscan


artists took great pride in creating art that would represent the portrayed as similar to the way


they actually looked. During the fifth and sixth century the Etruscan art style was very closely


related to the paintings found in Ionia. The curved mouths, almond shaped eyes, long fingers, and


long slender feet to show off their shoes, which they were very proud of. Also the artwork


portrayed the fashion of that period. These works showed many different scenes including funeral


scenes, banquets, athletic games, and dances. In the Fourth Century B.C. the Etruscans were


not prepared for their demise and their art reflected that idea. From Etruscan art being filled with


happy scenes of banquets and dancing they were filled with pictures of bloody fierce battle scenes.


The scenes including mythological battles as well as battles they were fighting in reality. Charun,


the Etruscan demon of the dead who ferried the dead across the river Styx, replaced youths


playing wind and stringed instruments in the sunny outdoors. The depressing expression of the


art was caused by three main reasons.


The worst of Etruria’s two problems was their declining business. The volume of trade


shrunk immensely. Etruia was no longer trading with as many countries as they were at the height


of their rule. The second main problem was the political powers in Eturia’s were very weak as


class conflicts grew. Lastly, the cities military was extremely venerable to attacks. Etruria was


never at one time under one strong leader. They may have spoken the same language, shared the


same religion and culture, but Eturia remained a small groups of city states much alike to those of


Greece. This allowed them to be successful in the early stages of the Empire, but proved to be


their downfall as the centuries passed. Although it is reasonable to assume that individual cities


sent colonists to neighbouring regions and would have entered into diplomatic alliances with each


other and foreign states, it is probable that each Etruscan city resolved problems in a manner that


was most beneficial to its own survival, most likely without regard for the interests of its allies or


neighbors. The independence of the city-states has been shown by archeological finds and it is


believed that these autonomous cities were bound together only by religion and common


language.


Initially, the Etruscans were a greatly feared sea fearing people. These are reports of other


groups of people running in fear of the alleged pirates of the Tyrrhenian. The early Etruscans


were just as powerful on land a they were on sea. Tactical warfare gave the Etruscans a huge


advantage against their enemies. The Etruscans used phalanxes, like the Greeks did, but it is a


societal advancement that is credited for much of their success. The one weapon that was


acclaimed to be their “secret weapon” was not a fighting machine, but their strong leather shoes


that wrapped above their ankles. These shoes were said to have led the Etruscans to victory more


than their armor or weapons.


It is part of the Etruscan’s success that led to their downfall. The three principal causes of


the end of the Empire were economic collapse, disunity among the city-states and the one-time


lore and mystique of the Bronze Age Etruscans was overcome by the aggressiveness and might of


the Iron Age Romans. In time, the Etruscan society led to its own breakdown and the politics of


rulers and ruling classes, together with the pursuit of pleasure, led to lack of concern over military


matters, fragmentation of their society, and easy Roman conquest. In one instance, the leaders of


the City of Volsinii, apparently incapable of handing their own affairs, appealed to the Romans for


help in subduing a slave uprising, leading the Roman conquest and destruction of the city. In


most other instances, the Etruscans refused to unite to fight the common enemy and were


overcome one at a time, until the entire Etruscan civilization ceased to exist.


What remains is art. ʑBIBLIOGRAPHY


Banti, Luisa. Etruscan Cities and Cultures. Los Angeles University of California Press,


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Beazley, J.D. Etruscan Vase-Painting. Oxford Clarendon Press, 147.


Beazley, J.D. Etruscan Vase Painting. Oxford Oxford University Press, 150.


Brown, W. Llewellyn. The Etruscan Lion. London Oxford University Press, 160.


Del Chiaro, Mario A. Etruscan Red-Figured Vase-Painting at Caere. Los Angeles


University of California Press, 174.


Hamblin, Dora Jane. The Etruscans. New York Time Inc, 175.


Hempl, George. Mediterranean Studies. New York AMS Publisher, Inc, 167.


Heurgon, Jacques. Daily Life of the Etruscans. New York The Macmillan Company, 164.


Janson, H.W. The History of Art. New York Harry N. Abrams Inc, 177.


Keller, Werner. The Etruscans. New York Alfred A. Knopf Inc, 174.


Mayani, Zacharie. The Etruscans Begin to Speak. New York Souvenir Press, LTD, 16.


Pallottino, Massimo. Etruscan Painting. Lausanne Skira Color Studio, Imprimeries


Reunies, S.A., 15.


Richardson, Emeline. The Etruscans, Their Art and Civilization. Chicago The University of


Chicago Press, 164.


Richardson, Emeline. Etruscan Sculptures. New York New American Library, 166.


Vaughan, Agnes Carr. Those Mysterious Etruscans. New York Doubleday and Company,


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Wellard, James. The Search for the Etruscans. New York Saturday Review Press, 175.


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