00349 - Etruscology and Italic Archaeology

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course introduces the fundamentals of the discipline by analyzing some of the most relevant monuments of Etruria and pre-Roman Italy. At the end of the course students should be able to orientate themselves in the complex framework of the population of pre-Roman Italy, both in terms of the geographical spread of the various peoples and in relation to the best known examples of their material culture. Moreover, main purpose of the lectures is getting to know and becoming acquainted with the Etruscans, the most eminent civilization in pre-Roman Italy, which often influenced other Italian peoples during the 1st millennium B.C. Attending the lessons and studying individually, students are requested to know all the main aspects of the Etruscan civilization, being able to critically evaluate political, economic, social, cultural and monumental phenomena relating to this ancient people

Course contents

Etruscan Civilization and the Peoples of Ancient Italy:

  • Introduction to the course.

The History of Etruscan Studies:

  • The discovery of the Etruscan and Italic peoples: archaeology, antiquarian studies and political interests.
  • From "Etruscheria" to Etruscology and pre-Roman Archaeology in Italy.

Etruscans and Other Peoples. Ancient Italy Between the Bronze and Iron Ages:

  • Transformations in ancient settlements, the origin of proto-urban centres and the “formation” of the ancient Italic ethne.
  • Italy in the First Iron Age: the cultures, languages and peoples of pre-Roman Italy.
  • Etruscans and their relationship with other Italic peoples: commercial exchanges and cultural connections.

Chronological Periods in Etruscan Civilization:

  • The Villanovan period: material culture and geographical differentiation; from the hut to the house and from the village to the town: household architecture; funerary customs: early forms of social and political organization in funerary documentation.
  • The Orientalizing period: the rise of the aristocracy; the culture of princes; palaces and monumental funerary architecture; different artistic expressions of aristocratic ideology.
  • The Archaic period: the end of the aristocracies: the tyrannoi and rise of the demos; the great works of urban architecture; cities and their harbours; cultural influence from Eastern Greece.
  • The Classic period: the dominance of inner Etruria and the Po Valley and the crisis of coastal Etruria; artistic issues and the relationship with Greece.
  • The Hellenistic period: the great “crisis” of the 4th century and the return of aristocracies; relations with Macedonia and Magna Graecia and the final great period of Etruscan culture. Conflict with Rome and the decline/assimilation of the Etruscans.

Attendance of the classes is highly recommended.


Students are expected to study the following texts:

1) G. Bartoloni (a cura di), Introduzione all'Etruscologia, Milano 2012;

2) G. Camporeale, Gli Etruschi. Storia e civiltà. Parte seconda: Le città, Torino 2000 (o edizioni successive).

3) Notes taken during the lessons.

At least one of the following texts is a required reading for students that are unable to attend the lessons:

M. Pallottino, Etruscologia, Roma 1985;

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

AA.VV., Rasenna. Storia e civiltà degli Etruschi (a cura di G.Pugliese Carratelli), Milano 1987;

AA.VV., Gli Etruschi (Catalogo della mostra, Venezia 2000), Cinisello Balsamo 2000;

AA.VV., Etruschi. Viaggio nelle terre dei Rasna (Catalogo della Mostra, Bologna 2019-2020), Milano 2020.

Foreign students, those with learning difficulties or DSAs will receive personalized help during the course and for exam preparation through individual contact with the Professor, a specific bibliography in a foreign language, maps of concepts, etc. These students are requested to contact the Professor as soon as the lessons start.

Attending the course requires a good knowledge of Italian.

The first lesson is designed to offer a historic, geographic, and archaeological framework, to promote a better understanding of the course contents.

Teaching methods

Lectures begin from a quarter past the hour. Attending the lectures is highly recommended.

Students will have the chance to integrate the course with practical laboratory activities (see the University guidelines) and to take part in the annual archaeological excavations in the Etruscan city of Marzabotto.

Assessment methods

The exam consists in an oral test, concerning the history and evolution of Etruscan culture and artistic production. A good knowledge of the bibliography and course topics is required. Three general questions are the starting point of a more detailed discussion.

Students are required to speak Italian or English fluently.

Summing up, the exam aims to evaluate:

- the knowledge of the bibliography and the course topics;

- the comprehension of the issues discussed during the lesson;

- the knowledge of the Etruscan civilization;

-the ability to frame objects and issues in their proper context and discuss them;

- ability, fluency and skill in discussing a topic appropriately.


The overall assessment will consider the following parameters:

- an excellent knowledge of the topics, the ability to analyse themes, refer to them using field-specific terminology, and discuss specific issues critically, expressing an opinion, will be rewarded with an excellent mark.

- an intermediate knowledge of the topics and a full comprehension of them, but not perfectly autonomous, will be rewarded with a very good mark.

- a mnemonic knowledge of the subject, with the ability to analyse with a correct, although not always field-specific, command of the language will be rewarded with a 'fair' mark.

- minimal knowledge of the subject will not be sufficient to pass the exam.

Teaching tools

Lessons will be conducted with the support of a wide selection of images, offered to students as a tool for perfecting their studies.

Office hours

See the website of Chiara Pizzirani