Skip to comments.Archaeologists May Have Found What Was Once The Biggest City In Italy
Posted on 11/07/2004 5:27:22 PM PST by blam
Scientific treasure hunters
Nov 4th 2004 | CLUSIUM, OR POSSIBLY NOT
From The Economist print edition
Archaeologists may have found what was once the biggest city in Italy
REAL archaeology bears about as much resemblance to an Indiana Jones movie as real spying bears to James Bond. Excavationat least if it is to be meaningfully different from grave robbingis a matter of painstaking trowel work, not gung-ho gold-grabbing. But there is still a glimmer of the grave robber in many archaeologists, and the search for a juicy royal tomb can stimulate more than just rational, scientific instincts.
Few tombs would be juicier than that of Lars Porsena, an Etruscan king who ruled in central Italy around 500BC. Porsena's tomb has been sought for centuries in the rubble under the Tuscan city of Chiusi, which is believed by most authorities to stand on the site of Porsena's capital, Clusium. No sign of it, however, has ever been found. And that, according to Giuseppe Centauro, of the University of Florence, is because everybody is looking in the wrong place.
Lars Porsena's place in history was ensured by his interference in the revolution that made Rome a republic. The last Roman king, Lucius Tarquinius, nicknamed Superbus because of his arrogance, was Etruscan. When he was deposed by the revolutionaries, he appealed to Porsena for help. There are conflicting accounts of whether Porsena succeeded in capturing and ruling Rome, or was forced to make peace with the revolutionaries. Either way, most of those accounts agree that he was eventually buried in a fabulous tomb near his home city of Camars, or Clusium as the Romans called it.
The Etruscans were big on tombsconstructing entire cities for the dead to inhabitbut Porsena's was supposedly the biggest of the lot. It was, according to one ancient source, a monument of rectangular masonry with a square base whose sides were 90 metres (about 300 feet) long and 15 metres high. On this base stood five pyramids, four at the corners and one in the centre, and the points of these pyramids supported a ring from which hung bells whose sound reached for miles when stirred by the wind. From this level rose five more pyramids, and from these another five.
Chiusi was clearly once an Etruscan city, but the evidence that it was actually Clusium boils down to the fact that the two names mean the same thing (closed). Such nominative determinism is hardly conclusive. Dr Centauro prefers his evidence to be wrought in stone, and he thinks the most persuasive pile of masonry around is actually on a mountainside near Florence.
At the moment, he is awaiting permission from the authorities to start digging there. But the above-ground remains convince him that he has found the real site of Clusium. He believes he has identified two concentric walls 17km (about ten miles) in circumferencecertainly big enough to qualify as the biggest city in Italy before the rise of Rome, which is the reputation that Clusium had.
Such a site has not, of course, completely escaped archaeological attention in the past. A dig in an outlying part of it known as Gonfienti has been under way since 1998. Gabriella Poggesi, the archaeologist in charge of the Gonfienti dig, has unearthed the foundations of what was evidently a wealthy settlement on the banks of the Bisenzio river. She has also found evidence of great damage, probably from a flood that swept through in 480BC, after which the houses were abandoned.
This, Dr Centauro believes, is all grist to his theory. In his view, this riverside settlement was an affluent suburb situated on reclaimed land outside the city walls. He thinks it was built to cope with later expansion, and is younger than the site he now calls Clusium.
The outer walls of the main site are three metres thick, several metres high, uncemented and regular in construction. From the style of the masonry, Dr Centauro is convinced the remains are Etruscan. At corners where they have collapsed, small rooms are visible. These, he thinks, would have accommodated the sentries who manned the watchtowers.
So where is the tomb? And is it unlooted? Sadly for goldbugs, its riches are probably gone. In 89BC Cornelius Sulla, a Roman general, sacked Clusium and razed it to the ground. But if the ancient descriptions of the tomb are even a pale reflection of the truth, that amount of masonry is unlikely to have wandered far. So if Dr Centauro's hunch is right, and this is Clusium, the old king's secret may soon be dug up.
I heard they found the ancestral home of Chef Boyrdee.
Its all a lie.. Karl rove is trying to change the subject! He doesnt want us to look into the voter fraud!!
So, this Lars Porsena was a corrupt Dem power broker, that tried to muscle in on the Republicans in Rome, but they were to strong for him and pushed him back out to the periphery.
LARS Porsena of Clusium
By the Nine Gods he swore
That the great house of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.
By the Nine Gods he swore it,
And named a trysting day,
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East and west and south and north,
To summon his array.
East and west and south and north
The messengers ride fast,
And tower and town and cottage
Have heard the trumpets blast.
Shame on the false Etruscan
Who lingers in his home,
When Porsena of Clusium
Is on the march for Rome.
. . . . Horatius put a stop to that!
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Yes, near the ruins of Abadanza.
I guess he was a northern Italian.
Oh, I read about that area once. It's the sister city of Abba Zabba.
Interesting. I know the Roman Empire was first estbalished in 753 BC. I heard that the Romans came from the Etruscans originally. Some say Basque is related to Etruscan language.
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The date sounds crudely right, but Rome was a Kingdom, then a Republic, then an Empire. The first transition is described in the article, the second occurred after the assassination of Julius Caesar and a complicated civil war in the last century BC.
It's unlikely that the Romans sprung from Etruscan stock. Latin is an Indoeuropean language with similarities to Greek, Celtic, and even Sanskrit. Etruscan is a language isolate, apparently unrelated to anything so far known (including Basque). Only about 300 words of Etruscan have been deciphered, mostly related to funerals and monuments.
The best guess would be that the Etruscans were a remnant of some earlier inhabitants of the Italian peninsula. The Romans probably arrived from the East in later waves of immigration at crudely the same time as the Greeks and Celts.
Etruscan is a mysterious language, like Basque or Bushushaski.
the Roman Empire was first estbalished in 753 BC. I heard that the Romans came from the Etruscans originally. Some say Basque is related to Etruscan language.The Roman Republic was established first. The empire didn't come about until the middle of the 1st century BC. The first emperor is generally held to have been Octavian, better known as Augustus Caesar, nephew (adopted son) of Julius, who retired to a little streetside restaurant in Naples, where he discovered the frozen orange concoction that still bears his name.
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Your welcome. I know the Romans did ecounter the Etruscans.
Yeah, Rome was ruled by Etruscan kings (some say founded by Etruscans), eventually kicked them out, and over a period of centuries picked off the Etruscan city-states one by one.
The longest Etruscan inscription known is on the Zagreb mummy wrapping--a piece of cloth used to wrap a mummy in Egypt, which was eventually acquired by a collector who brought it to Zagreb. When they removed the wrapping they found an Etruscan text on the cloth. It's now in the archaeological museum in Zagreb.
Or, she will...
Where Did The Etruscans Come From?
Dieter H. Steinbauer
...Grammatical analysis may compare constructions of both languages, which the linguist calls 'morpho-syntactic', e.g. the endings -le and -si expressing the logical subject connected with past forms of the passive voice in Etruscan -u and Lemnian -o (as to the correlation of these two vowels, see above).
Etruscan (Vc 3.2) ...larthia-le melacina-si mul-u "(was) by Larth Melacina(s) given" und Lemnian holaie-si qokiashia-le...evisth-o "by Holaie kokiashia (?) x-ed" are so convincingly matched that they entitle linguists to postulate a common ancestral stage of both languages which may be termed Proto-Etrusco-Lemnian.
Recently, Carlo de Simone, formerly professor at the university of Tuebingen, has again taken up the idea that Etruscans originating from Italy have settled on the island of Lemnos during the 9th or 8th century BC. But there are no archaeological proofs, and, in addition, the languages are too different to be considered as mere dialects.
Further -- which has been only briefly mentioned here with Luvian maua -- there exist enough similarities between the Etruscan and Lemnian languages and the so-called Anatolian languages (in Asia Minor) to show that the roots of the Etruscans in Italy must be sought in the northwest part of Asia Minor -- approximately in the region of Troy. And this might well form the historical core of that myth of Trojan origin, which the Romans have borrowed from their neighbouring nation, in order to claim it for themselves.
... More linguistic research into Etruscan and Lemnian can be found in: Dieter H. Steinbauer, Neues Handbuch des Etruskischen, Scripta Mercaturæ Verlag, St. Katharinen 1999, ISBN 3-89590-080-X, on pages 357-366, as well as strewn in the following text. This book, unfortunately, is so far only available in German.
Oh sure, just because I choose to wear a girdle...
Neues Handbuch des Etruskischen
by Dieter H Steinbauer
It's interesting that when Rome was still a small city-state, relatively unknown, Alexander the Great decided to go around Rome and leave it alone on his conquest of the known world.
ClusiumIt was according to Roman tradition one of the oldest cities of Etruria and indeed of all Italy, and, if Camars (the original name of the town, according to Livy) is rightly connected with the Camertes Umbri, its foundation would go back to pre-Etruscan times... The chief interest of the place lies in its extensive necropolis, which surrounds the city on all sides... The most remarkable group of tombs is, however, that of Poggio Gaiella, 3 m. to the N., where the hill is honeycombed with chambers in three storeys (now, however, much ruined and inaccessible), partly connected by a system of passages, and supported at the base by a stone wall which forms a circle and not a squarea fact which renders impossible its identification with the tomb of Porsena, the description of which Pliny (Hist. Nat. xxxvi. 91) has copied from Varro... A conception of the size of the whole necropolis may be gathered from the fact that nearly three thousand Etruscan inscriptions have come to light from Clusium and its district alone, while the part of Etruria north of it as far as the Arno has produced barely five hundred. Among the later tombs bilingual inscriptions are by no means rare, and both Etruscan and Latin inscriptions are often found in the same cemeteries, showing that the use of the Etruscan language only died out gradually.
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All the challenges were the other way, to the east. The mighty and cosmopolitan Persian Empire was the greatest power in the world, so far as anyone in Europe knew. This is exactly what Alexander undertook, telling Darius II at the outset of the war that he considered all the Persian lands and vassals to be his own.
I think I have read that there was a quite formidable empire on the Indian subcontinent which might have offered the overextended expedition a greater challenge than any thus far encountered had Alexander ventured beyond the lower Indus in modern Pakistan. We'll never know. The weary Macedonian troops refused to go any farther from their known world.
I think (perhaps wrongly) that Claudius was of Etruscan stock. (Would that be I Claudius as opposed to II Claudius? We are talking about Graves though.)
I've dropped a Darius somewhere along the way. Darius III.
Thanks for your reply, I appreciate your knowledge. I enjoy learning about history, and I've got a lot more reading to do.
My personal opinion on why Alexander left the city-state Rome alone was that Rome had already gained a reputation as feirce fighters. Not that Alexander felt that he couldn't have overtaken them, but he didn't need the unnecessary casualties. Sort of like when a grizzly bear occassionally backs down from a wolverine when contested over a kill. If the grizz isn't hungry and he's got better things to do, he'll forgo the potential wounds being inflicted during the fight. If the grizzly is hungry and needs the food, the wolverine will usually become part of his meal.
Alexander got as far as the Kashmir region of India, but found the Indians were more full of fight than the Persians had been, at least since their defeat at Gaugamela, or any of the minor kingdoms. He also learned that even if he conquered India, there was China beyond that, making his dream of conquering the whole world seem much more distant. At the same time, disease (probably Black Death), famine and thirst were taking their toll as well. Alexander entered India with something like 120,000 men and returned to Babylon with a quarter of that
Alexander defeated a former Persian vassal named Porus, but stopped well short of Nanda, the plum prize on the subcontinent. Author Robin Lane Fox (The Search for Alexander) seems to think Nanda could have been overcome--it fell within a few years to the upstart Chandragupta--had Alexander not tried to cross the Punjab in the monsoon season.
Well, the common folk of early Roma were of Italic stock (as were others from the Latin grounds to the south and east of Rome) but they definitely WERE on the border between Italics and Etruscans and the Romans DID have Etruscan kings until Tarquin the Bold. They possibly did have some Etruscan blood
bushushaski? Is that the langue from Chechnya/Ingushetia/Dagestan?
Remember that Rome was sacked by the Gauls at around that time and then slowly rebuilt herself to fight in the Punic wars -- the third Punic war was the catalyst that pushed Rome into superpower status and helped her in her fight against the Alexandrine kingdoms in Greece, Syria and Egypt
Maybe. That's anyone's guess? They tried to link with Basque and Ainu.
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