Biblical Archaeology Review 30:4, July/August 2004


Cerveteri, Italy (ancient Etruria)

This terra-cotta ash urn from about 500 B.C. depicting a young deceased woman demonstrates the artistic sophistication of the ancient Etruscans, who inhabited west-central Italy. The Etruscans emerged as a civilization in the ninth century B.C. and established a league of 12 city-states united by language and religion. The Etruscans grew wealthy from trading the region’s copper and iron, and reached the height of their power in the sixth century B.C. By 280 B.C., however, they had been defeated by the Romans and quickly assimilated. No Etruscan literature survives, apart from a few incompletely deciphered inscriptions, leaving artwork and contemporary Greek and Roman writing as the only sources of information about Etruscan culture.

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