Of all civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean, it is perhaps the Etruscans who hold the greatest allure. This is fundamentally because, unlike their Greek and Latin neighbours, the Etruscans left no textual sources to posterity. The only direct evidence for studying them and for understanding their culture is the archaeological, and to a much lesser extent, epigraphic record. The Etruscans must therefore be approached as if they were a prehistoric people; and the enormous wealth of Etruscan visual and material culture must speak for them. Yet they offer glimpses, in the record left by Greek and Roman authors, that they were literate and far from primordial: indeed, that their written histories were greatly admired by the Romans themselves.
Applying fresh archaeological discoveries and new insights, A Short History of the Etruscans engagingly conducts the reader through the birth, growth and demise of this fascinating and enigmatic ancient people, whose nemesis was the growing power of Rome. Exploring the 'discovery' of the Etruscans from the Renaissance onwards, Corinna Riva discusses the mysterious Etruscan language, which long remained wholly indecipherable; the Etruscan landscape; the 6th-century growth of Etruscan cities and Mediterranean trade. Close attention is also paid to religion and ritual; sanctuaries and monumental grave sites; and the fatal incorporation of Etruria into Rome's political orbit.
Country of Publication:
Series: Short Histories
01 December 2020
Professional and scholarly
1. The Discovery of the Etruscans and the History of Scholarship 2. Beginnings: Moving Settlements and Emerging Hierarchies 3. Etruscan Urbanisation: Towns and New Networks 4. The Etruscan Non-Polis: Urban Growth in the Archaic period 5. Beyond Tyrrhenian Etruria and Human Mobility 6. Etruria and Rome
Corinna Riva is Senior Lecturer in Mediterranean Archaeology at University College London, UK. The co-editor of two previous books on ancient Italy and the antique Mediterranean, she is also author of The Urbanisation of Etruria: Funerary Practices and Social Change, 700-600 BC (2010).
Reviews for A Short History of the Etruscans
In this dynamic and engaging work, the Etruscans find a powerful champion. Riva's commanding voice reveals the myriad ways these often overlooked peoples were essential partners in the urban renaissance of the Archaic Mediterranean. Through a rigorous examination of archaeological, historical, and linguistic evidence, this work illustrates not only the creative ways in which the Etruscan political landscape emerged from its Iron Age foundations, but also demonstrates the essential competition and mentorship those communities provided to their neighboring Roman contemporaries. * Anthony Tuck, Director, Poggio Civitate Excavations, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA *