Etruria (// ih-TROOR-ee-ə) was a region of Central Italy delimited by the rivers Arno and Tiber, an area that covered what is now most of Tuscany, northern Lazio, and north-western Umbria.
The ancient people of Etruria are identified as Etruscans. Their complex culture centered on numerous city-states that arose during the Villanovan period in the ninth century BC, and they were very powerful during the Orientalizing Archaic periods.
The Etruscans were a dominant culture in Italy by 650 BC, surpassing other ancient Italic peoples such as the Ligures. Their influence may be seen beyond Etruria's confines in the Po River Valley and Latium, as well as in Campania and through their contact with the Greek colonies in Southern Italy (including Sicily). Indeed, at some Etruscan tombs, such as those of the Tumulus di Montefortini at Comeana (see Carmignano) in Tuscany, physical evidence of trade with Egypt has been found by archaeologists—fine Egyptian faience cups are an example. Such trade occurred either directly with Egypt or through intermediaries such as Greek or Phoenician sailors.
Rome was influenced strongly by the Etruscans even though it was separated from the early boundary of Etruria by the Silva Ciminia, the Ciminian Forest. A series of Etruscan kings ruled Rome until 509 BC when the last Etruscan king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was removed from power and the Roman Republic was established. The Etruscans are credited with influencing Roman architecture and ritual practice; it was under the Etruscan kings that important structures such as the Capitolium, Cloaca Maxima, and Via Sacra were realized.
The Etruscan civilization had a great influence on the culture of early Republican Rome, some of what later became the most symbolic traditions of the city. It also included the introduction of new foods, the Latin alphabet, the architecture, and engineering elements.
Etruria usually is divided into two main territories, called Northern Etruria and Southern Etruria, to which must be added the northernmost territories are called Etruria Padana, and the southernmost territories are called Etruria Campana.
Main article: Etruscan cities
Latin and Italian names are given between parentheses:
There was a period between 600 BC and 500 BC, during which twelve Etruscan city-states formed a loose confederation known as the Etruscan League. Etruscan was the official language for their meetings. When Etruria was conquered by the Roman Republic, Latin became the official language.
In the Augustan organization of Roman Italy, Etruria was the name of a region (Regio VII). Its borders were the Tiber, the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Apuan Alps, and the Apennines. This is roughly coincident with those of Etruria before the Roman period that began in 509 BC.
The Grand Duchy of Tuscany (which existed 1569–1801 and 1814–1859) styled itself in Latin as Magnus Ducatus Etruriae (Grand Duchy of Etruria). The name Etruria also was applied to the Kingdom of Etruria, an ephemeral client state of Napoleon I of France that replaced the Grand Duchy between 1801 and 1807.
A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D. H. Lawrence's Sketches of Etruscan Places and other Italian essays.