Dr. Gianluca Tagliamonte

By Anonymous

Etruscan Colonization: Ancient Traditions and Modern Interpretations

Gianluca Tagliamonte, an Italian scholar, presented the problem about the origin of the Etruscans through the notion of colonization and the contradiction between modern and ancient scholars. More specifically, he argued that the notion of colonization had been interpreted in various ways by many scholars to explain the Etruscan settlements in Italy and beyond. He also pointed out that it is challenging to reconstruct the historiography of Etruscans as nothing original of the Etruscan history has survived except for the influence in Greek and Latin writings. However, according to Tagliamonte, some elements of Etruscan tradition still exist, but it is impossible to define them today. 

Furthermore, he stated that in the Etruscan society, there are individual city-states and not an entire nomen. The theory that the Etruscan originated from the Lydians or the Pelasgians faces the problem of chronology as, according to Ducati, the archaic Greek colonization would have induced the Etruscan colonization. In another aspect of Etruscan history, according to Tagliamonte, scholars have used the term colonization for the Etruscan settlements outside Etruria in Campania and Po Valley. According to M. Pallottino, the presence of the Villanovan culture in the Po Valley and Campania implies the Etruscans colonization in that area; however, according to Tagliamonte, the problem about the reconstruction of the Etruscan historiography remains. An example of this problem is Etruria Padana; similar problems also occurred in the second colonization movement. Tagliamonte stated that the goal is to define the discontinuities in the archaic period and to highlight the nature of the expansion and the land division that affected the Etruscans in the Po Valley and Campania in the 7th century BC. 

However, modern studies have doubted the second colonization concerning the Etruria Padana and Campania in the archaic period; if we accept this view, it is a huge possibility that the Etruscan expansion into Italy had an external aid. Despite this modern view of the first and second colonization, many ancient authors have provided sources about the Etruscan colonization in Italy.       

Many scholars mentioned the possibilities of the existence of a dodecapolis in Po Valley or the role of an ecists as solid evidence of the Etruscan migration in the area. A final area wherein scholars have used the term colonization regarding the Etruscan colonization is that of the methods and forms of the Etruscan expansion. Despite the silence of the sources about colonization practices, there are some ancient authors like Diodorus Siculus who referred to a city founded in Corsica by the Etruscans. He also mentioned the expulsion of the indigenous population from the island. 

Finally, Tagliamonte concludes that the reconstruction of the Etruscan historiography is still open, and yet we do not have any better definition for this matter. In my opinion, the lecture about the Etruscan colonization was very interesting and it inspired me to read more about this civilization. I would, however, have preferred if Mr. Tagliamonte had expressed his view more about this debate.