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date: 09 December 2019


  • Marco Rendeli


Modern name of an Etruscan city, the ancient name of which is unknown. Situated c. 50 km south of Bologna, in the central valley of the River Reno on a terrace called Pian di Misano, at the exit of the Apennine mountain passes, it was part of the Etruscan colonization of the plain around the River Po in the second half of the 6th century bc and was connected via the River Reno with Felsina (Bologna) and Spina. Marzabotto is the only Etruscan city to have been extensively excavated and studied. Its layout is based on a formal grid plan (see fig.), divided along orthogonal axes according to ancient rules. These axes comprise a main north–south street and three east–west streets, all of which were 15 m wide. There were also subsidiary north–south streets only 5 m wide. The precise extent of the inhabited area cannot be calculated because of fluvial erosion and the absence of any walls. Two monumental structures to the east and north, however, appear to have been city gates. The blocks formed by the intersection of the streets were occupied by both private dwellings and manufacturing establishments, in particular pottery and metal workshops, but nothing is known of the area given over to public buildings. The single-storey dwellings faced on to the streets, and the rooms were arranged internally around a central courtyard, open to the sky and usually containing a well. The roofs must have been ridged, since rain–water was intended to run off into collection pipes. These houses were built on foundations of river pebbles, and the walls were of compressed clay on a wooden framework (...

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