Thursday, August 23, 2012

Discovering Etruscan and Greek Influences

Ancient Etruria was located in the region occupied by present-day Tuscany, at the top of the boot-shape of Italy. It was bounded by the Arno River in the north, and the Tiber River in the south. The volcanic landscape of Etruria rendered the geography dramatic, with steep gorges and rough cliff faces overlooking rushing streams. Etruscans, the forebears of the Romans, made their home there for over 900 years, from 1200 B.C.E. to the beginning of the roman conquest in 300 B.C.E.

By the sixth century B.C.E., Etruscan civilization had reached its height of industry and luxury. Considered outstanding seafarers and harsh military opponents at this time, the Etruscans were also known for their enterprising trade relationships. Their favorite trading partner was Greece, and the two cultures influenced one another markedly, from architectural styles to sporting events. Etruscan merchants and their customers were particularly fond of Grecian pottery, and modern excavations of Etruscan tombs have yielded more examples of Greek vases than are contained in Greece itself. In return, Etruscan wine and olive oil trade to Greece and elsewhere flourished.