Etruscans: the ancestors of the Italian civilization

The Etruscans were an ancient Italic civilization linguistically identifiable around the 700 B.C. Their culture developed from a prehistoric civilization known as Villanovan (ca. 900–500 B.C.). By the beginning of the VII century B.C., the Etruscans occupied the central region of Italy between the Arno and Tiber rivers (in region Tuscany), and eventually settled up to the Po River valley and down towards Campania. They flourished until the end of the II century B.C., when they were fully assimilated into the Roman culture. The origins of the Etruscans are mostly lost in prehistory. We have no literature, no original texts of religion or philosophy testimonials, therefore, much of what is known about this civilization is derived from grave goods and tomb findings.

In Arezzo, the Etruscan itinerary starts from “Gaio Clinio Mecenate”, an archeological museum built on the remains of a Roman amphiteathre. Numerous items tell us of the organization of this civilization and of its extraordinary skills in metal work and pottery. In the museum you can admire a collection of gold work, an important multi-coloured head decoration and a large coin of which there are only other two known examples in the world.

In piazza San Francesco, underneath the church, there are evidences of the Etruscan civilization in Arezzo, with structures dating back to the VI cent. B.C. In piazzetta San Niccolò, recent excavations have brought to light remains of an Etruscan city wall. In the road running by the Medici Fortress, you can see the remains of a temple dating back around the II cent. B. C.

In 1553 the Chimaera was found in Arezzo during the rebuilding of the city walls: it is considered one of the highest examples of Etruscan metal art. It is currently displayed in the National Archeological Museum of Florence, while a copy can be seen under the Porta di San Loretino in Arezzo. You can also read the “What to See” section to learn more about the Chimaera.

Interesting to see are the Etruscan tombs, which can be admired in several areas in Tuscany and Umbria.

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