The Etruscan Castellum

Fortified Settlements and Regional Autonomy in Etruria.

The accounts of Roman historians describe Etruria as a landscape that was peppered with different types of settlements ranging from cities to villages. Extensive surveys and excavations such as those in the area of Veii, Falerii, Volterra and Fiesole have confirmed this variety and indeed have done much to enrich our understanding of not only Etruscan cities but also of smaller settlements.

It is within this latter category that a new group of settlements seems to be discernible on the basis of archaeological investigations conducted in the last 50 years and corroborated by the ancient authors themselves. It consists of a fairly homogeneous pattern of fortified hilltop settlements that has not been recognized for the whole of Etruria before.

Definingthe nature of this pattern provides an opportunity to examine the socio-economic interactions within Etruria on a more microscopic scale, and suggests how the smaller settlements may have participated in regional activities.The sample of sites under consideration consists of a series of inhabited hilltops tha tbecame fortified by the Hellenistic period if not before. The settlements tend to be rather small and have an area that is typically no larger than two hectares within its walls. The inhabitants of these hilltops tend to be concentrated on the hill or around it, and their primary economy is agricultural. In addition, at some sites we can document the presence of an elite social class through the monumental, burial or artifact evidence in and around some of the sites. 

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Author: Hilary W. Becker

Article and Image Source: monteallacroce.altervista.org

Keywords: Etruscan,Fortifications,Hillforts,Italy,Castellum


Hilary W. Becker

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