Skip to comments.Etruscan Ruins Show How Ancients Lived
Posted on 04/08/2002 5:05:24 AM PDT by blam
Etruscan ruins show how ancients lived
April 07 2002 at 11:34AM
By Shasta Darlington
Rome - The ruins of an Etruscan mining city abandoned almost 3 000 years ago are giving archaeologists an unprecedented look at one of Italy's first and most mysterious civilisations.
Since stumbling across the ruins of a single stone dwelling in the early 1980s, archaeologists have found the region, on the shores of a lake in central Italy, was once the site of an Etruscan city in 700 BC and 600 BC.
"It's an extraordinary find because almost all Etruscan ruins are necropoli," said Giovannangelo Camporeale, the head of the excavation and a professor of Etruscan culture at the University of Florence.
'It has only been disturbed by hunters and charcoal burners' "It's a totally new sensation to work on an Etruscan excavation and discover how the people lived instead of how they buried their dead."
The Etruscan colonies in northern Italy and Greek settlements in the south were the earliest major civilisations in the country. But most of the famous Etruscan ruins, like Cerveteri, contain little more than the sophisticated necropoli.
At the Tuscan site near present-day Massa Marittima, archaeologists have uncovered five "neighbourhoods" with the ruins of up to 10 houses in each, but they believe the ancient city covered a wider, 30-hectare area.
The origins of the Etruscan civilisation, which lasted for about a thousand years, are not clear. Once in Italy, they developed what is believed to have been a refined culture and sophisticated agriculture, but their history was long shrouded in mystery because little was known about their language.
The fact that the site, which has been named Accesa after the nearby lake, was not built on by subsequent civilisations means the original city is relatively intact.
"We've been very fortunate since after the Etruscans a forest grew over the area and it has only been disturbed by hunters and charcoal burners," Camporeale said.
Most Etruscan cities were replaced by Roman settlements, which in turn were overrun by medieval and modern civilisations, making it almost impossible to dig down to the ruins of the first inhabitants.
The crude brick walls of most of the houses have been lost, but archaeologists have uncovered the stone foundations and roof tiles as well as a wealth of weaving and mining tools and crockery that give a rare glimpse at the Etruscan lifestyle.
"We have found a lot of items related to women's work, which is not surprising considering that clothes were a point of pride with Etruscans," Camporeale said.
A series of small mines have also been uncovered, leading archaeologists to conclude that each neighbourhood operated its own mine in a co-operative system.
Workers also discovered that far from living in simple one-room dwellings, many Etruscans lived in large homes with up to seven rooms.
Neat! Items such as these make history much more interesting, IMO.
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