Historical Periods


A History of the Etruscan people including their cities, art, society, rulers and contributions to civilization

By: Robert Guisepi


Historical periods

Their own inscriptions, dated about 700 BC, attest the presence of the Etruscan people in Etruria; it is widely believed, however, that the Etruscans were present in Italy before this time and that the prehistoric Iron Age culture called "Villanovan" (9th-8th century BC) is actually an early phase of Etruscan civilization.

Inasmuch as no Etruscan literary works have survived, the chronology of Etruscan history and civilization has been constructed on the basis of evidence, both archaeological and literary, from the better-known civilizations of Greece and Rome as well as from those of Egypt and the Middle East. Contact with Greece began around the time that the first Greek colony in Italy was founded (c. 775-750 BC), when Greeks from the island of Euboea settled at Pithekoussai in the Bay of Naples. Thereafter, numerous Greek and Middle Eastern objects were imported into Etruria, and these items, together with Etruscan artifacts and works of art displaying Greek or Oriental influence, have been used to generate relatively precise dates along with more general ones. In fact, the basic nomenclature for the historical periods in Etruria is borrowed from corresponding periods in Greece; the assigned dates are usually (though perhaps erroneously) conceived of as being slightly later than their Greek counterparts to allow for cultural "time lag." Thus the Etruscan Orientalizing period belongs to the 7th century BC; the Archaic period to the 6th and first half of the 5th century BC; the Classical period to the second half of the 5th and the 4th century BC; and the Hellenistic period to the 3rd to 1st centuries BC. Etruscan culture became absorbed into Roman civilization during the 1st century BC and thereafter disappeared as a recognizable entity.

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