29647 - Etruscology and Italic Archaeology (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows in depth the various fields of Etruscan civilization and of the pre-Roman Italian world; knows how to use the critical tools for a correct reading of archaeological documentation integrating it with historical and epigraphic documentation; is able to know in depth the territory, also through visits to the main museums and archaeological areas of the region, which enable him to acquire a complete and conscious approach to the discipline.

Course contents

The course is divided into two 30-hour modules each. Students who have only the 6 cfu course in the curriculum, can freely choose between the two modules. The first module starts on 18 September, 2023; The second module starts on November 13, 2023. The course takes place on Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday from 1 pm to 3 pm.

During the starting lessons, Professor will give advice on the studying, will explain the exam carrying out and will give the outlines of the basic elements of the discipline, in order to fill in possible gaps in students' knowledge.

First module: The Archaeology of power in Etruscan world

The course aims to analyze the birth of power in Etruria. After a brief examination of the political and ideological structures of the Villanovan phase, the parameters that allow us to recognize the emergence of a hegemonic class and the formation of a language of self-representation of the elite are identified. The historical phase of the Orientalizing (VII century BC), defined as the phase of the Etruscan Princes, is understood through the analysis of the Mediterranean commercial framework. After a short overview of the more current methodological approaches to the study of mobility and encounter phenomena between peoples during the Orientalizing period in the western Mediterranean, the course deals with the forms of exchange of goods, raw materials, craftsmen in Etruria between the end of the 8th and the beginning of the 6th century a.C., with particular attention to the carriers (Phoenicians, Greeks and other people), and to the productive and commercial mechanisms. Through the analysis of some of the most significant classes of materials (eg tableware for banquets, jewelery, luxury productions) the relationship between the Etruscans and other Mediterranean peoples is brought into focus, within the framework of a Etruscan aristocracy that builds its own social, political and cultural identity with the definition of self-representation systems in different contexts, funerary, living, and sacred. The investigation of this historical phenomenon is conducted starting from the funerary context: the structures (the princely mound), the rituals (the burial ritual and the cult of the ancestors) and the birth of a monumental art focused on tomb (architecture, sculpture, painting) will be examined. Some of the most significant tomb contexts in Etruria allow to explore the princely funerary ideology. The analysis then takes into consideration the domestic context and some of the best preserved palatial structures allow to investigate the ideological structure of the ruling class. The birth of figurative art and of an Etruscan imaginary, strongly influenced by the Greek myth, is framed in the broader phenomenon of cultural interactions between the two peoples and in the dialogue between the Mediterranean ruling élites.

Second Module: The Etruscans in The Po Valley

The birth of the Etruscan centers of Bologna and Verucchio and the territorial development during the Villanova and Orientalizing phases. The gentle power between funeral practices and stone sculpture. The restructuring of the whole area of Padana during the 6th century. The foundation of new urban centers such as Marzabotto, Spina, Bagnolo San Vito (Mantua) and other smaller centers. The commercial and productive system of Etruria Padana and the complex network of relations with Tyrrhenian Etruria, with the Adriatic and with the Greek world and with Northern Italy and the transalpine world. The urbanization of the Etruscan-Padan centers. The funeral ideology between VI and IV sec. B.C. through the analysis of the necropolis of Bologna, Marzabotto, Spina and other smaller centers. The grave sculptures of Bologna as an expression of the civic community. The crisis generated by the fall of the Gauls and the end of the Etruscan settlements in the Po valley. Guided tours are available at the main museums and archaeological sites of the Region, whose dates will be announced at the beginning of the course.

Students interested in Pre-Roman Archaeology can attend also Italic and Celtic Archaeology (Prof. A. Gaucci) and Archaeology of Etruscan City (Prof. C. Pizzirani).


First Module: The Archaeology of power in Etruscan world

1- Principi etruschi tra Mediterraneo ed Europa (Catalogue of Exhibition), Bologna 2000, pp. 3-90 and pp. 93-101, 145-153, 165-171, 193-195, 223-229, 271-277, 307-317, 327-337, 377-389.

Those students not attending classes have to prepare also:

  • M. Martelli, Il fasto delle metropoli dell’Etruria meridionale. Importazioni, imitazioni e arte suntuaria, in Etruschi. Antiche metropoli del Lazio (Catalogo della mostra), Roma 2008, pp. 120-139.
  • La Cerveteri dei Principi, in Gli Etruschi e il Mediterraneo. La città di Cerveteri (Catalogo della mostra), 2013, pp. 88-139.
  • M. Sannibale, L’Etruria orientalizzante, in Bollettino dei Monumenti Musei e Gallerie Pontificie, XXX, 2014, pp. 7-57.

Second Module: The Etruscans in The Po Valley

1-G. Sassatelli, Gli Etruschi nella Valle del Po. Riflessioni, problemi e prospettive di ricerca, in "Annali Faina" 15, 2008, pp. 71-114.

2- G. Sassatelli, Verucchio, centro etrusco di frontiera, in "Ocnus. Quaderni della Scuola di Specializzazione in Archeologia" 4, 1996, pp. 247-268.

3- G. Sassatelli, La funzione economica e produttiva: merci, scambi, artigianato, in Spina. Storia di una città tra Greci ed Etruschi (Catalogo della Mostra, Ferrara), Ferrara 1993, pp. 179-217.

4- E. Govi (a cura di), Marzabotto. Una città etrusca, Bologna 2007.

5- E. Govi, Lo studio delle stele felsinee: approccio metodologico e analisi del linguaggio figurativo, in Annali per la Fondazione del Museo Claudio Faina, vol. XXI, 2014, pp. 127-186.

Those students not attending classes have to prepare also:

  • Ravenna e l'Adriatico dalle origini all'età romana (a cura di F. Boschi), Bologna 2013, pp. 1-90;
  • the papers of G. Sassatelli, E. Govi, G. Morpurgo in “Il viaggio oltre la vita. Gli Etruschi e l'Aldilà tra capolavori e realtà virtuale” (catalogo della mostra, Bologna 2014-2015), Bologna 2015, pp. 99-130.

Students without the preliminary skills to deal with lesson-related topics can fill gaps by reading one of the following manuals:

- G. Bartoloni (a cura di), Introduzione all'Etruscologia, Roma 2012.

- G. Camporeale, Gli Etruschi. Storia e civiltà, Novara, UTET, 2015.

- Gli Etruschi. Una nuova immagine (a cura di M. Cristofani), Firenze 1972 (o ristampe successive).

Teaching methods

The course is organized with frontal lectures. The second module, dedicated to Etruria Padana, also includes visits to the main museums of the region (Archaeological Museum of Bologna, Museum and archaeological site of Marzabotto, National Museum of Ferrara).

Students interested will be able to integrate the course's teaching with practical laboratory within the training offers offered by the Department, with particular regard to the possibility of excavating experiences in the Etruscan city of Marzabotto (Bologna).

In consideration of the types of activities and teaching methods adopted, the attendance of the laboratory and the excavation activity requires the performance of all students of Modules 1 and 2 in e-learning mode and the participation in Module 3 of specific training on safety and health in the places of study. Information on dates and methods of attendance of Module 3 can be consulted in the specific section of the degree program website.

Assessment methods

The exam consists on an oral examination, during which the teacher is going to ask questions, related to those topics illustrated and debated at lectures and/or found in the bibliography.

The assessment of students is based on their ability to refer the acquired knowledge by using the field-specific terminology and by framing consistently a specific topic in its related period.

Those students who demonstrate to have a systematic perspective of topics covered during lectures and/or in the above-mentioned bibliography, mastering them critically, also by using field-specific terms, will be given a mark of excellence. A mnemonic knowledge of the subject with the ability to sinthetize/analize, with correct, although not always field-specific command of the language will be rewarded with a 'fair' mark. Those students who demonstrate minimal knowledge of the subject, showing gaps and/or inappropriate command of the specific language will be given a pass mark or just above the pass mark. Significant knowledge gaps, insufficient field-specific language, lack of those abilities to frame correctly the covered topics and to orientate themselves among the bibliographical materials will not be given a pass mark.

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

6 CFU course can be chosen as a part of the 12 CFU Integrated Course “Etruscology and Italic Archaeology (C.I.) (LM)". If the student has the Integrated Course (12 CFU) in his/her study plan, the final grade will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two parts (“First Module (1) (LM)" and “Second Module (1) (LM)".

Teaching tools

During the lessons professor will use visual media, especially power point that the student can download at the end of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Elisabetta Govi


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.