“They arrived in the region of the Umbrians and changed the name of Lydians with a different one, taken by the king’s son who had led them: taking his own name, they called themselves “Tirreni” (Herodotus)
A fascinating and mysterious population. Object of debate since ancient times, indicated by the Greeks under the name of Tirreni or Pelasgi, called Etruscans or Tusci by the Romans, self-defined themselves Rasna: Who actually were the Etruscans? Where does their story light up?
Recent studies indicate that the “Villanovian” civilization was born between the 9th and the 7th century BC in the area of modern Tuscany – Northern Lazio, part of Emilia Romagna and Campania. Here are the first Etruscan city centres that, unlike the Phoenicians’ and Greeks’, have no origin in a colonization movement, but are born through a different phenomenon, geographically much more limited. Indo-European populations, immigrants in this area during the Iron Age, aggregate themselves to indigenous peoples and groups from the Near East and from Greece through maritime traffics, attracted by the mineral resources of the territory.
Needless to look for the Etruscans before their appearance, since their civilization is the result of a process of integration between different populations and various cultures that occurred in Etruria at the end of the II millennium. (Massimo Pallottino)
No doubt that there is a profound and decisive influence on the Etruscan culture from the Greek world (handcrafted and artistic hints) but also from the Phoenician world (in particular the processing of ivory and metals). But, above all, an entire period of Etruscan civilization, defined not by chance, “orientalizing” and that is dated between the end of the eighth and the beginning of the sixth century, is inspired directly by Greek and Phoenician influences.
“The history of the orientalizing Mediterranean is therefore the history of people’s movements, of objects’ circulation … these objects are bearers of messages” (Michel Gras)
In the development of the Etruscan society the period defined as “orientalizing” by archaeologists, represents a crucial moment. A phenomenon of circulation of objects, decorative motifs, cultural elements that invests all the Mediterranean space, from the Near East through the mediation of the Greeks and the Phoenicians. The impact of this oriental mark on Etruscan artistic production that, at this early stage, is still looking for its own identity, is very strong.