History of Etruscan Italy
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The history of Etruscan Italy includes the lands of three confederacies: Etruria (including Tuscany, Umbria, and Latium), the Po Valley in the eastern Alps, and Campania. The earliest evidence of Etruscan culture dates from about 900 BCE, with the advent of the Iron Age Villanovan culture, the earliest era of Etruscan civilization, and the later Bronze Age culture in the same area. Inscriptions of Etruscan writing, based on symbols borrowed from Greek, have been found in southern Etruria that date to around 700 BCE. The Etruscans were influenced by ancient Greek culture when the Greeks started founding colonies in southern Italy.
In ancient Etruria, power resided in small cities and their prominent families. At the height of Etruria’s power, a number of Etruscan families grew wealthy from trade with the Celts to the north and the Greeks to the south, and their large family tombs were filled with imported luxury goods. The remains of these tombs suggest that Archaic Greece and Greek mythology had a huge influence on their art, architecture, and lifestyle.
Etruscan civilization lasted until it was finally assimilated into Roman society. Etruscan territory was gradually reduced as the political balance of power on the Italian peninsula became unfavorable to the Etruscans. Assimilation began in the late 4th century BCE with Rome’s victories over the Etrurian tribes, and it hastened when Rome granted citizenship to Etrurians in 90 BCE. Etruria’s assimilation became complete when its territory was annexed into the newly-created Roman Empire.
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