Somewhere between 900 and 800 BC, the Italian peninsula was settled by a mysterious people called the Etruscans.
We don't know where the Etruscans came from, but archaeologists suspect that they came from the eastern Mediterranean, possibly Asia Minor.
The majority of that area today is known as the country of Turkey.
The Italian peninsula is located in Europe, while most of the country of Turkey is located in Asia.
They settled on the west coast of Italy that is now Tuscany.
They resembled the Phoenicians in that they were traders and sailors and founded towns on the coast.
They were also very skilled in carving ornaments out of gold, silver, and bronze.
We will never really know where they came from or why they colonized Italy. We do know that when they came to Italy, they brought civilization and urbanization with them.
Civilization means the process where people leave their primitive and savage lives and tend to group together under a state of laws and behavior that are acceptable to all.
Urbanization is the changing from a rural to a city type of lifestyle.
We have very little literary evidence about the Etruscans, because nobody in those days bothered to write about them.
We must therefore fall back upon archeological evidence to get a picture of what kind of people the Etruscans were and how they lived.
They probably came from the mountainous regions of Anatolia and the Caucasus where they were "Tyrrhenians."
Around 800 B.C. they were driven from their lands by some other Asiatic tribe and tried to migrate to Egypt.
The Pharaohs, then at the height of their power, drove them out…
out…so they crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
Some finally settled in Tuscany, which the Etruscans called "Etruria“.
Some went on to Sardinia, the Balearic Islands, and Spain.
Originally, the Etruscans were probably pirates and raided Phoenician merchant ships.
The Phoenicians protected their merchant ships with their war ships.
The Tyrrhenian Sea. (named after the Etruscans who were also called Tyrrhenians)
Being astute merchants, they had commercial relations with the Carthaginians and the Greeks, whose dress they often imitated.
They sailed to the ports of Spain, the Balearic Islands, and Asia Minor.
The Etruscans believed in gods and dreaded their anger. They therefore observed rites to soothe it, offering animals in sacrifices.
They were strong believers in divination – that is to say, the art of knowing the will of the gods.
The Etruscans had a great cult for the dead, whom they buried in underground rooms which were often grandiose and magnificently painted.
The Etruscans left many writings on tombstones, tablets, cups, and vases.
The Etruscan cities, like those of the Greeks, were independent of each other.
They were small states, each governed by a leader called the Lucumone.
Each had to provide for its own defense in case of war: for this reason the Etruscan towns were situated on isolated hills and surrounded by strong walls.
The boundaries of a town were square. When the Etruscans founded a town, they used a plow to mark the furrow along which the foundations of the wall were to be laid. At some points the plow was raised out of the ground to leave a gap for the gates.
The Etruscans brought house-building methods with them from Asia.
The houses were square and the windows looked on to an inside courtyard.
Instead of a vault, they used an architrave (horizontal piece of wood) to support the roof or the floor above.
The building techniques were later adapted by the Romans.
As the Etruscans liked to live in comfort, their houses were furnished with carpets, couches, large tables for banquets, and attractive ornaments.
Above all they had beautiful vases used for storing things, mixing things, and for drinking.
The Etruscans were a lively and cultured people, and enjoyed their recreations.