Secrets in the Dust II
Uncovering the Etruscans
It took an Italian doctor in the 1870s to discover the legendary 12th City of the Etruscans, the mysterious people the Romans tried to write out of history, because they were jealous of this superior civilization that they had thrust aside.
It was a chance find of a coin in a field that led Isodoro Falchi to indentify the site Vetulonia the last township of the Etruscan federation. This loose grouping of hilltop cities inhabited Italy’s beautiful Tuscany region for 1,000 years, until their disappearance around 500 BC. Because they decorated their tombs as facsimiles of their homes, we know exactly how they lived. From these, their unmistakable statues and other artifacts, we know that they used iron tools, built towns with stone temples, and lived in terraced houses with small interior pools. Theirs was a sensuous, prosperous lifestyle of banquets and pleasure, with equality between the sexes - and a healthy interest in sex itself.
But the Etruscans had one remarkable, almost unique characteristic. As if all this was too good to be true, they predicted their own downfall, after a thousand years. The Romans seemed almost too happy to oblige, for no-one must be seen to have influenced them -- even though they built on the achievements of the Etruscans. Literally, in the case of Rome, where they even adopted their sewerage system!
In Falchi’s day the archaeological authorities in Rome seemed almost as reluctant to recognize his discoveries as the Romans themselves had been to remember the Etruscans; but today’s geneticists have proved that Falchi was right. They have discovered that the current inhabitants of Campiglia Marittima , once called Vetulonia, are descended from the Etruscans of old; and they have solved a second mystery. The original ancestors of the Etruscans came not from Italy but from Asia Minor: today’s Turkey.
From the latest excavations by Simona Rafanelli and Sylvia Guideri we understand one more crucial fact. The Romans may like to pretend that the Etruscans never existed - and the Etruscans may have predicted their own downfall. But today, archaeologists find evidence that Etruscans and Romans lived in harmony for a long period, worshipping the same gods, before the Romans took over, conquering lands far beyond the Italian hills to become the superpower of the ancient world.