Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria

Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria

Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 472
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria
    Book Description:

    The best overall description of the remains and the topography of Etruscan sites. It conveys the fascination of a British traveler's path-breaking exploration of the sites in central Italy in the early 1840s and the obstacles he overcame to reach them.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5488-2
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-vi)
    Dennis E. Rhodes

    It is now nearly a century and a half since that youthful explorer and incipient Etruscologist George Dennis (born in 1814) began to seek out the Etruscan sites of Central Italy in the company of his friend the artist Samuel Ainsley. Italy was in those days overrun with bandits, the countryside in summer was plagued by snakes and malarial mosquitoes, and each Etruscan site was well off the beaten track, usually hidden under thickets of brambles and other noxious thorn-bushes. When Dennis reached them, the tombs had often been rifled already by robbers of earlier generations. Undaunted, he pursued his...

    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-lxvii)

    For generations the Etruscans, the immediate predecessors of the Romans in central Italy, have stirred our imagination. Their origins, their culture, their language, their now-silent cities and adjoining cemeteries have attracted the traveler and the scholar alike. Indeed, it was a traveler-scholar of the nineteenth century, George Dennis, who gave us our first extensive view of the still enigmatic Etruscans.

    George Dennis’ book is a product of that nineteenth-century society in which primarily the moneyed and cultured traveled. Their observations, reflecting interests in antiquities and art and, in addition, the burgeoning studies of the natural sciences, were recorded in journals...

  6. Volume I
    • CHAPTER I. VEII.—The City.
      (pp. 1-31)

      Of all the cities of Etruria, none takes so prominent a place in history as Veii. One of the earliest, nearest, and unquestionably the most formidable of the foes of Rome—for nearly four centuries her rival in military power, her instructress in civilisation and the arts—the southern bulwark of Etruria—the richest city of that land—the Troy of Italy—Veii excites our interest as much by the length of the struggle she maintained, and by the romantic legends attending her overthrow, as by the intimate connection of her history with Rome’s earliest and most spirit-stirring days. Such...

      (pp. 193-205)

      At the same time, and by the same parties that Castel d’Asso was made known, there was brought to light another Etruscan necropolis, of even greater extent and higher interest. It lies more to the west, about fourteen miles from Viterbo, among the wooded glens which here intersect the great Etruscan plain, and in the neighbourhood of a ruined and desolate town, known by its mediæval name of Norchia. Besides numerous rock-sepulchres, similar to those of Castel d’Asso, this necropolis contains two of a more remarkable character—imitations of temples, with porticoed façades and sculptured pediments, thought to be unique...

      (pp. 207-218)

      Another Etruscan site of great interest, but very little known, is Bieda, a village five or six miles south-west of Vetralla. It is the representative of the ancient town of Blera, of which its name is a corruption.¹ Blera could not have been a place of importance, under either Etruscans or Romans. Not once is it mentioned by ancient historians, and its name only occurs in the catalogues of geographers.² We know that it was a small town at the commencement of the Empire;³ that it was on the Via Clodia, between the Forum Clodii and Tuscania; and there ends...

      (pp. 227-288)

      From the railway-station at Palo the traveller will espy before him a small village with one prominent building sparkling in the sun, at the foot of the hills which rise to the north, dark with wood. This is Cervetri, the modern representative of the ancient city of Cære. Should he come by train with the intention of visiting that site, he will probably be disappointed in finding a conveyance. Acorriereconveys to Cervetri the mails dropped by the morning train from Rome, but thebaroccinoseats only two, and a place is not always to be had. If the...

      (pp. 289-294)

      Nine miles beyond Palo is the fortress of Santa Severa, standing on the shore, about a furlong from the high-road. It is a square castle, with a square keep at one angle, and a lofty round tower, with machicolated battlements, rising near it. To the casual observer, it has nothing to distinguish it from other mediæval forts; but if examined closely, it will be seen that its walls on the side of Civita Vecchia are based on foundations of far earlier date, formed of massive, irregular, polygonal blocks, neatly fitted together without cement,¹—precisely similar to the walls of Cora,...

      (pp. 301-400)

      From Viterbo to Corneto there is an excellent road, and a daily service by diligence. The thirty miles between them are professedly accomplished in six hours; but “between the word and the deed there is a long distance,” as the proverb saith. The country is most sparsely inhabited. In the twenty-one miles of undulating downs of heath or corn which separate Vetralla from Corneto, there is but one village, that of Monte Romano, lying beneath the tufted hill of that name, which forms a striking feature in the scenery of this district, and in whose neighbourhood Etruscan antiquities have been...

      (pp. 417-430)

      After beholding the wonders of the Montarozzi, the attention is naturally directed to the city from which these tombs were peopled. “If such were its sepulchres,” we may exclaim with Lanzi, “what must have been its palaces!” Its antiquity, power, and magnificence are naturally inferred,—what was its history?

      The origin of Tarquinii is wrapt in the mists of fable. The story told by the ancients, is this:—Soon after the Trojan War, Tyrrhenus, son of Atys, king of Lydia, being compelled by famine to quit his native land, brought a colony to this part of Italy, and built the...

      (pp. 437-467)

      Vulci is a city whose very name, fifty years since, was scarcely known, but “which now, for the enormous treasures of antiquity it has yielded, is exalted above every other city of the ancient world, not excepting even, in certain respects, Herculaneum or Pompeii.”¹ Little is to be seen, it must be confessed, on its site; yet a visit to it will hardly disappoint the traveller. It lies about eighteen miles north-west of Corneto. The road, for the first eleven or twelve, or as far as Montalto, is the coast-railway from Rome to Pisa, and follows the line of the...

      (pp. 473-488)

      About nine or ten miles to the east of Canino lies Toscanella, an Etruscan site of considerable interest, which may be reached in a carriage, either from Viterbo, Corneto, or Canino. This part of the great plain is diversified by oak-woods, which afford a pleasing contrast to the naked sweeps nearer the sea and the Ciminian Mount. Toscanella, with its many lofty towers, is the most conspicuous object in the thinly-peopled plain, and may be descried from a great distance. Yet it stands on no eminence, but on the very level of the plain, nearly surrounded by profound ravines. It...

  7. Volume II
      (pp. 1-18)

      We are apt to regard Italy as a country so thoroughly beaten by travellers that little new can be said about it; still less do we imagine that relics of the olden time can exist in the open air, and remain unknown to the world. Yet the truth is, that vast districts of the Peninsula, especially in the Tuscan, Roman, and Neapolitan States, are to the archæologist aterra incognita. Every monument on the high-roads is familiar, even to the fireside traveller; but how little is known of the by-ways! Of the swarms of foreigners who yearly traverse the country...

      (pp. 36-63)

      The last Etruscan site in the great central plain that I have to describe is Orvieto, which lies on the extreme verge of the plain to the north-east, and is easily reached from Florence or Rome, as it lies on the direct railway between those capitals. It was not always so accessible. When I first knew it, the nearest points to it were Bolsena, nine miles distant, and Monte Fiascone, nearly eighteen; both roads being carriageable. On one occasion, in default of a better mode of conveyance, I was fain to make the journey on an ass, with another for...

      (pp. 212-221)

      From Follonica there are two ways to Populonia—one along the sandy strip of shore, called Il Tombolo, to Piombino, fifteen miles distant,¹ and thence six miles further over the mountains; the other by the railroad as far as the Campiglia station, and then across the Maremma. The former road, in fine weather, is practicable for a carriage throughout.

      From Campiglia Station to Populonia there is a direct road of seven miles across the plain. When I did it many years since, this track was practicable only on foot or on horseback, for the jungle stretched from the Leghorn road...

      (pp. 222-234)

      From Follonica to Grosseto by railroad, there are 42 kilomètres or 25 miles. There is a track along the coast direct to Castiglion della Pescaja, leaving the Torre di Troja, the Trajanus Portus of antiquity,¹ to the right. The rail-road leaves the coast at Follonica, and runs inland for half the way through a long barren valley, between heights covered with brushwood, on which to the right stand the villages of Scarlino, Gavorrano, Caldana and Giuncarico. At the foot of the heights, below Gavorrano, is the station of Potassa, with its Locanda, nine miles from Follonica. Beyond Giuncarico, the scenery...

    (pp. 235-236)

    The great value of George Dennis’Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria was, at the time of its publication, the opening of Etruscan scholarship to the English-speaking world. As Dennis writes in his preface to the 1848 edition, “The primary object of this work is to serve as a Guide to those who would become personally acquainted with the extant remains of Etruscan civilisation.” That it did accomplish this there is no question. That it has continued to be an important record of Etruscan remains and a starting point for the modern scholar is attested to in the opening pages of...

  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-237)