Ian talked to the March meeting of the Ancient History Group about the ancient civilisation of the Etruscans who are still puzzling researchers, because not much writing has survived. However, works of art and craft have, as well as burial sites. The Etruscans lived in central parts of Italy from about 600 BC to 100 BC. Ian tells us that during the bronze age they used urns for burials, while they made tumuli during the iron age. Much of what we know comes from archaeological excavations. The sanctuary at Pyrgi, discovered by Giovanni Colonna, is one of the most important sacred sites and reveals that the Etruscans had a sacred architecture that is unparalleled. Ian has visited many of the sites and read D H Lawrence’s book. He glorified the Etruscans as having a culture that, unlike the Greeks and other older cultures, did not have an underworld or hell as part of their narrative. Instead, it was a completed harmonious view of life and death. A famous sarcophagus with two reclining figures, husband and wife, illustrate this. They look happy and content and are surrounded by precious goods in their afterlife.
The Etruscans League was a loose organisation of ten cities who traded with each other. It faded, as the Etruscans battled with Celts and arrivals of other tribes. However, Rome is said to have been built by Etruscans in their traditional style of building on top of a hill (the Palantine hill) and surround their buildings with a sacred wall. Customs that are said to come from the Etruscans are the Toga, drainage and terracotta tiles amongst other things. The word Tursci, from Greek and Latin means Tower builders, as they build tall cities on hills.
This was a beginning of us looking at the Etruscans, and further sessions are planned for the future. For instance, we did not yet study the Piacenza liver, a bronze tool to prophesize the future.