Etruscan Civilization

Definition

by Wikipedia
published on 28 April 2011
Etruscan Civilization (NormanEinstein)

Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to the culture and way of life of a people of ancient Italy and Corsica whom the ancient Romans called Etrusci or Tusci. The origins of the Etruscans are lost in prehistory. The main hypotheses are that they are indigenous, probably stemming from the Villanovan culture, or that they are the result of invasion from the north or the Near East. Etruscan expansion was focused both to the north beyond the Apennines and into Campania. Some small towns in the 6th century BC have disappeared during this time, ostensibly consumed by greater, more powerful neighbors.

However, there exists no doubt that the political structure of the Etruscan culture was similar, albeit more aristocratic, to Magna Graecia in the south. The mining and commerce of metal, especially copper and iron, led to an enrichment of the Etruscans and to the expansion of their influence in the Italian peninsula and the western Mediterranean sea. Here their interests collided with those of the Greeks, especially in the sixth century BC, when Phoceans of Italy founded colonies along the coast of France, Catalonia and Corsica. This led the Etruscans to ally themselves with the Carthaginians, whose interests also collided with the Greeks. Around 540 BC, the Battle of Alalia led to a new distribution of power in the western Mediterranean Sea.

Though the battle had no clear winner, Carthage managed to expand its sphere of influence at the expense of both the Etruscans and the Greeks, and Etruria saw itself relegated to the northern Tyrrhenian Sea. From the first half of the fifth century, the new international political situation meant the beginning of the Etruscan decline after losing their southern provinces. In 480 BC, Etruria's ally Carthage was defeated by a coalition of Magna Graecia cities led by Syracuse. A few years later, in 474, Syracuse's tyrant Hiero defeated the Etruscans at the Battle of Cumae. Etruria's influence over the cities of Latium and Campania weakened, and it was taken over by Romans and Samnites.

In the fourth century, Etruria saw a Gallic invasion end its influence over the Po valley and the Adriatic coast. Meanwhile, Rome had started annexing Etruscan cities. This led to the loss of their north provinces. Etruscia was assimilated by Rome around 500 BC.

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Timeline

Visual Timeline
  • 800 BCE
    Beginning of the Etruscan civilization in Italy.
  • 539 BCE
    Etruscan & Carthaginian alliance expels the Greeks from Corsica.
  • 535 BCE
    Battle of Alalia. Carthaginian navy, in alliance with Etruscans, defeated Greek ships off the island of Corsica.
  • c. 475 BCE
    Celts defeat the Etruscans at the Ticino River.
  • 400 BCE
    Celts enter Italy and settle in the Po Valley. Etruscan power declines.
  • 396 BCE
    Roman expansion begins with the capture of Veii from the Etruscans.
  • 396 BCE
    Celts defeat the Etruscan army at the battle of Melpum. Afterwards the Celts heavily settle all over the Po Valley.
  • 391 BCE
    Senones besiege Clusium, an Etruscan city.
  • 298 BCE - 290 BCE
    Third Samnite War. Victory for Rome, peace with the Etruscans.
  • 283 BCE
    Romans defeat the Etruscans and Celts at lake Vadimonis.
  • 225 BCE
    Celts defeat 6000 Romans at Faesulae and proceed to overrun Etruria.
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