Located within the long peninsula of Italy and nestled between the regions of Lombardy to the north and the Campagna to the south, lies Tuscany, famous both for its natural beauty, long history and for being the birthplace of the Renaissance. This region has a long history, being occupied since at least the Bronze Age. The Villanouvan culture thrived here with archaeological evidence indicating that this culture began around the 12th or 11th century BC, the inhabitants living in roundhouses similar to others in Europe. Beginning in the Iron Age Tuscany was inhabited by a culture we now call the Etruscans, this culture fused elements of Greek and middle Eastern cultures to form what would become a dynamic culture, which would challenge Rome and other Italic cities in Italy. Within one of the several museums of Florence houses several important artefacts from, the many Etrucan sites such as Volterra. These Include gold earrings, pottery, vases very similar to those of Greece in this period and various forms of armour such as short swords and helmets. All of this indicating high status individuals. It is clear from the wealth of sarchophoci discovered that the Etrucans enjoyed the ‘good life’ of banqueting and drinking wine as can be seen from the sarchophoci which show figures of men and women lying and drinking, Indicating that this was how they wanted to be remembered. There are numerous Etruscan settlements and sites throughout Tuscany including, Vulci and Tarquinia.
However during the 5th and 4th centuries BC the Etruscan fought numorous wars with the Greeks and then Romans. The Etruscan fleet was crushed off the coast of Corsica. Then a period of decline set in with the Roman expansion into Tuscany in the 4th century.Cities such as Veii had long protracted wars with Rome culminating in the Roman conquest of first Veii and then all of the Etruscan cities. However Etrucan culture had an impact on the Romans, indeed some of the kings which initially ruled Rome were Etruscans. Also the Etruscan language continued down in to the 1st century BC with apparently the Emporor Claudius being one of the last people to speak and write the language. The Romans named the region Etruria after the Etrucans and today the region is named Tuscany,land of the Etruscans.
Author : Jeremy Hallatt