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The Origins of the Etruscans

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Author Topic: The Origins of the Etruscans  (Read 931 times)
Victoria Liss
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« on: October 14, 2010, 01:26:00 pm »

Etruscans believed that death was the journey to the afterlife and had a fear that the neglected dead may become malevolent; therefore, tombs were constructed with particular care, solidity, and lavishness. Thus, the dead would take pleasure in their last dwelling, enjoy their afterlife, and chose not to haunt the living. The Etruscans were fond of decorating their sarcophagi with sculptures of humans in natural poses. In particular, the Sarcophagus of the Spouses depicts a couple lounging on a dining couch. It is uncertain if it actually contained the joint remains, but it idealizes the epitome of nuptial bliss. The practice of cremation was quite common and decorative cinerary or burial urns were often used to store remains. The styles of urn range from biconical (vase shaped), to miniature hut style to the canopic style with human figures or heads on their lids. The sarcophagi and urns would be laid in the tomb with other burial items necessary for the afterlife. (Adams, 198; Bloch, 157; Spivey, 92)

The Etruscans "believed that every race had a set span of time to run and that they themselves had been allotted ten saecula, a period of unequal length, which was based upon the life-span of the longest living survivor, starting at the end of the previous saeculum.…The Etruscans believed their first saeculum had begun sometime during the eleventh or tenth century B.C." They were quite correct. Eventually a new order emerged with Etruscans holding posts under the Roman government and many turning to religious administration. By the first century BC, Etruria was just another part of the Roman Empire and her future lay with the power of Rome. She was gone almost as fast as she had risen. Etruscan culture rapidly flourished for the span of a millennium; and accomplished what many cultures take many millennia to do. In a sense, the Etruscans are much like our own American culture excluding the whole disappearance fact. We are the youngest country in the world and were given little expectation for success at our humble beginning. The rapid growth of our contemporary American nation along with the melting pot of cultures, peoples, and ideas has led us to the pinnacle of civilization and a major world power. In addition, we certainly share a similar lack of morals, economic ideals, and the tendency to copy our contemporaries. The Etruscans, as mysterious as they may be, are a quite familiar breed and the essence of their elusive culture certainly continues in spirit. Joie de vivre! (UPenn; Macnamara, 17).
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