The Origins of the Etruscans

The Etruscan Civilization still has something mysterious, unknown, a sort of tale whose origins are not completely and widely known, even to historians. There are many sources among which it is possible to collect information about the provenance of these ancient people. This is only one of the many. 


Even nowadays we speak of the Etruscan as a mysterious people whose origins are still unknown. Some ancient scholars tried to give an anwser to this question.

Erodoto, a Green historian who lived in the V century b. C., tells us that they arrived from the East, exactly from Lidia, in the western part of Asia, under the guide of Tirreno, king Atys’s son. Ellanico, V century b. C., identifies them with the Nomands Pelasci; Anticlide, Green historian of III century b. C., refers to the migration of the Pelasgi led by the prince Lidio Tirreno. As a consequence, a theory was spread of an eastern origin of the Etruscans; but Dionisio of Alicarnasso, a Greek historian who lived during the Empire of August, asserted that they were an autocthonous people, which had not come from abroad but were native of the place where they lived, whose name was Rasenna.

In the modern age, a third theory has been added to these two. According to this last hypothesis, the Etruscans would have come from the North. However, the concept that today dominates is that a nation rises slowly from the union of different elements taht can have different origins. 

Once together, they create something new, that in this case was the Etruscan civilization.

Therefore, when we hear talking of the Etruscans’ origins, we must correct this idea by considering the Etruscan people formation, which certainly took place in the Italian region where they lived. 


(from “Il Mistero degli Etruschi – The Mystery of the Etruscans” – Il Mondo degli Etruschi – M. G. Franceschini – Viterbo 1978. Ed.) 

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