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Marco Rendeli

[Gr. Agylla; Lat. Caere; Etrus. Caisra]

Italian town near the Tyrrhenian coast c. 40 km north-west of Rome. The Etruscan city of Caisra, usually known by its Roman name, Caere, was situated on a tufa plateau bounded by two streams, extending north-east of modern Cerveteri. The site is especially important for the extensive Etruscan necropolises on the surrounding hillsides (see fig.). The ancient town itself has been only partially excavated.

The first settlements at and around Cerveteri date to the Middle Bronze Age. By the Late Bronze Age (12th–11th century bc) these had begun to coalesce, although compared with other southern Etruscan centres, such as Tarquinia, Veii and Vulci, the town’s development during the Early Iron Age (9th–8th century bc) was gradual. The Cava della Pozzolana and the Sorbo necropolis (to the east and west respectively) contain typical cremation burials in pit tombs. During the 8th century bc Cerveteri became a centre for the trade with Greek and Phoenician merchants, stimulating the evolution of Etruscan Orientalizing art. The later development of its three dependent ports at ...

Article

Chiusi  

Marco Rendeli

[Etrus. Camars; Lat. Clusium]

Italian town c. 165 km north of Rome. It is situated on a tufa hill and surrounded by extensive Etruscan necropolises. Beneath the streets of the modern town runs a labyrinth of Etruscan galleries. Ancient Camars (known by its Latin name, Clusius) was one of the members of the Etruscan 12–city league and an important centre midway between southern and northern Etruria. Many local finds are displayed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Chiusi.

The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age tombs at Belverde di Cetona and Poggio Renzo respectively are among the earliest of the many important tombs in the area. During the 7th century bc Chiusi began to coalesce from a network of scattered settlements, and its most numerous and characteristic products of this Orientalizing period are Canopic urns. These pottery ash-urns comprise ovoid vases, often in the form of stylized bodies, with lids shaped as human or animal heads (...

Article

Tom Rasmussen

[Lat. Falerii]

Italian town c. 54 km north of Rome, dramatically situated on a tufa plateau isolated by stream-cut gorges. Beyond the town are numerous Etruscan necropolises with rock-cut chamber tombs.

In ancient times Civita Castellana, then called Falerii, was the principal city of the Falisco-Capenate region. Although the Faliscans seem to have been racially distinct from the Etruscans and spoke a dialect of Latin, culturally and politically they were (and appear to have considered themselves) part of Etruria. In the wars between Rome and Veii, for example, Falerii was a staunch ally of the latter, and after the destruction of Veii in 396 bc it quickly became subject to Rome. Almost nothing of Etruscan Falerii now stands, except for the remains of a temple, or pair of temples, dedicated to Juno Curitis in the Contrada Celle, a Temple of Mercury at I Sassi Caduti and a temple at Lo Scasato. The temple sites have produced finds of important architectural terracottas (Rome, Villa Giulia) dating from the early ...

Article

Cortona  

Philancy N. Holder

[Etrus. Curtun]

Italian hill city in Tuscany, 80 km south-east of Florence. Situated on a ridge overlooking the Valdichiana to the west and Lake Trasimeno to the south, the city is largely surrounded by Etruscan and medieval walls and is notable for its medieval and Renaissance buildings. Settlement on the site dates from the Villanovan period. Later an Etruscan stronghold and probably a member of the Etruscan League, Cortona became an ally of Rome after the defeat of the Etruscans in the late 4th century bc. In the Middle Ages Cortona had a tumultuous history of shifting alliances with Arezzo, Perugia, Siena, and Florence. An independent comune in the 13th century, from 1409 the city came under Florentine rule for 250 years. Materially, it was protected from destruction by the mountainous nature of its site: the city was built on steep irregular terraces, and nearly all its many medieval buildings rest on giant, quadrangular Etruscan foundation blocks. The medieval terraced houses are built mainly of local sandstone, often with brick and plaster second storeys. In the Via del Gesù are several houses with wooden jetties that reflect the taste of the 13th-century commune....

Article

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 (...

Article

Modena  

Christine Verzar and Lia Di Giacomo

[anc. Mutina]

Italian city in Emilia-Romagna, situated in the Po Valley at the crossroads of the Via Emilia and the road leading north to the Brenner Pass. It is rich in both Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, and it was an Etruscan settlement from the 4th century bc. In 218 bc Modena became a fortified centre and then a Roman colony, assuming importance with the building of the Via Emilia after 187 bc. It was praised by Cicero as ‘the most splendid and strongest colony of the Roman people’. From the Lombard period only scarce finds and the epitaph of Gundeberga (ad 570) in the cathedral survive.

Under Bishop Leodoino (reg 872–92) Modena again began to prosper; and in 1099 this was marked by the construction of the new cathedral (see §1 below) with the support of Contessa Matilda of Canossa. Under Bishop Eriberto (regc. 1054–94) the city state was established. The bishop and the new commune supported the papal party in the Investiture Dispute, for which the cathedral, the bishop’s palace, and the main square functioned as a symbol and focal point....

Article

Orvieto  

Marco Rendeli, Catherine Harding and Gordon Campbell

[Etrus. Velzna; Lat. Volsinii Veteres; Ourbibenton; Urbsvetus]

Italian city in Umbria, situated about halfway between Rome and Florence on a steep tufa spur near the confluence of the rivers Chiana, Paglia, and Tiber. It was the site of Velzna, one of the major cities of the Etruscan federation, which was destroyed in 264 bc. The medieval town of Orvieto that developed on the same site is documented from the 6th century ad as Ourbibenton and by the mid-11th century as Urbsvetus (see §2 below), but it expanded only from the 12th century, when, as a Guelph stronghold, it became a papal refuge at times of revolt and Ghibelline domination in Rome. Nearly all the city’s major surviving buildings date from the 13th and 14th centuries.

Marco Rendeli

The ancient site, which remains largely inaccessible to excavation beneath medieval and modern buildings, is generally known by its Roman name, Volsinii Veteres, although since the 19th century it has been identified as the Etruscan city of ...

Article

Tom Rasmussen

[Etrus. Pupluna]

Italian village situated on a promontory c. 15 km north of the port of Piombino. In ancient times Populonia was an Etruscan city and the only major Etruscan centre sited directly on the coast (all other ‘coastal’ cities were in fact several km inland). There was already an important settlement there at the end of the Bronze Age, and in Etruscan times there were two main centres of habitation: on the summit of the acropolis hill at Poggio del Molino and at its foot on the Bay of Baratti. The acropolis had its own ashlar wall; the lower town was also defended by an outer wall, which effectively cut off the whole of the peninsula. Few remains of the buildings in either area have been uncovered, although excavations at Poggio del Molino, begun in 1980 by A. Romualdi, have revealed the platform of a large temple of Hellenistic date, along with fragments of its exterior terracotta decorations....

Article

Pyrgi  

Marco Rendeli

[now Santa Severa]

Etruscan town on the Tyrrhenian coast c. 53 km north-east of Rome. It was one of the ports of Cerveteri (Caere) and thus an important centre for Etruscan trade and naval power in the Mediterranean. Pyrgi was inhabited from the Bronze Age, but its development as a port dates from the 7th–6th century bc. The Sanctuary of Leukothea (or Eileithyia) at Pyrgi has been excavated by the Institute of Etruscology at the University of Rome (1957–64). It was approached by a wide road (c. 10 m) from Cerveteri through a monumental entrance. The sanctuary was enclosed by a wall and bounded to the south by inlets from the sea.

Two temples, apparently dedicated to Uni (the Etruscan Juno), stood either side of a sacred area. Temple B, the older and smaller structure (c. 500 bc; c. 28×19 m) was peripteral with a pronaos and single cella, following Greek models. Finds from its site include numerous fine architectural terracottas, notably a terracotta relief plaque depicting the ...