The Etruscans Essay Research Paper The Etruscans
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The Etruscans Essay, Research Paper The Etruscans are one of those mystery peoples of the ancient world who seem to have appeared for a short time in history, then to have disappeared altogether. Although their reign was short lived, they had a great impact on later Mediterranean cultures. They were a powerful people at the height of their civilization. They controlled the entire Italian peninsula from the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea. They controlled the trade routes with their navy and were much involved in commerce with Greece and Carthage. They had a written language and they were accomplished architects and engineers. They were known throughout the Mediterranean region for their soothsaying abilities. Where they came from and why they disappeared is still not well understood, but the study of this fascinating people continues in modern day Tuscany.At the time of its greatest power, between the seventh and fifth centuries BC, Etruria, a loose confederation of twelve city-states probably embraced all of Italy from the Alps to the Tiber River. Its name is the Latin version of the Greek name Tyrrhenia; the ancient Romans called the people of the country Etrusci or Tusci, from which derived the name of the modern Italian region of Tuscany. However, much about their culture remains a mystery and even their language remains undecipherable, the voices of the Etruscans are being heard through the study of their artifacts and artwork.The Etruscans built an empire that rivaled the empires of ancient Greece and Carthage – all of this at a time when Rome was a village of mud huts on the banks of the Tiber. Although they had built such a great empire, they had no army to protect them from their enemies. When stronger more hostile invaders eventually overcame and conquered each city state, the Etruscans wrote it off as fate, thinking that the gods meant it to be that way. Was it their fatalistic attitude that caused their downfall or was it their form of government? Researchers of today have shed some light on this matter and say that their form of government was their major downfall. The Etruscans never formed one unified nation with a single national policy but belonged to at least twelve separate states, each state represented by a capital city. When the time came to form an army to protect themselves, the Etruscan city-state fell back on an archaic convention whereby every man who was called to the colours was required to name another recruit. This was no doubt an expedient way in which in muster practically the entire population of the country, but it is certain than men conscripted in this fashion were neither willing volunteers nor experienced professionals. It s no wonder that the Etruscan armies were destined to be defeated. Having no central government, these people would never have called themselves by one all encompassing name such as Etruscan; they would not have been organized enough to mount a united front against their enemies.The characteristic form of governmental organization in Etruria was the confederacy of cities. At one time, there appears to have been three separate Etruscan confederacies the northern, the southern, and the central each made up of 12 cities. The only confederacy of any significance was the central confederacy, a loose political and religious organization that gathered annually at the shrine of the deity Voltumnas to choose priests and magistrates from the nobility to govern each Etruscan city.The many traders from the eastern Mediterranean who came to the Italian peninsula influenced the Etruscans. Etruscan agricultural products such as wine, olive oil, and cereal grains as well as metal ores such a iron and copper were much sought after throughout the region. In return, the Etruscans valued gold, silver, ivory and pottery. Evidence indicates that the Phoenicians were the first to arrive, probably in the eighth century BC.