Before There Were Romans

I talk about the Egyptians and Romans quite a bit, but before the Romans rose to take over the Italian peninsula, there was another civilization, the Etruscans. The Etruscans are a bit of a strange civilization. They occupied northern Italy and southern France where the two modern day countries meet. They later period of Etruscan history was heavily influenced by the Greeks. That in itself isn’t strange, but one would expect them to speak a form of Greek or maybe a precursor for Latin, given they were absorbed by the Roman Empire. Nope, they spoke a form of ancient Finnish.

The Etruscans are a bit like the Sea People, we suspect they came from the colder regions of northern Europe, but we aren’t sure why they arrived where they did and what civilization looked like for them before they arrived in the warmer climate of the Mediterranean. But the Sea People are tomorrow’s post.

The Etruscans had a highly advanced civilization, including a complex religious structure and worked with metals that most civilizations weren’t working with yet. They did not leave massive stone monuments, but they did leave some amazing pottery and other luxury goods. As a matter of fact, Etruscan pottery was so revered that after the rise of Rome, tradesmen who worked in pottery and understood how to make Etruscan earthenware, could and did ask for much higher prices.

Etruscan weaponsmiths were said to make the finest weapons of the Roman empire. Etruscan art and weapons were in such high demand, that their stuff can be found from Italy to Iraq and along the north of Africa. As a result, the Etruscans were a fairly wealthy civilization, as nearly every early civilization traded with them.

Yet their language is decidedly not a Mediterranean language. It is so closely related to ancient Finnish that modern Finnish and Etruscan share words. The civilization lasted less than 2,000 years, which is the blink of an eye for Mediterranean civilizations.

Despite their short time, they heavily influenced art and weaponsmithing of the time. Etruscan art whether it’s pottery or statuary is still a sought after commodity by museums and collectors. And is still said to be some of the finest ever produced.