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Volume 55 Number 4, July/August 2002
by Jarrett A. Lobell
|Five residential quarters have been excavated at the newly found Etruscan site. (Courtesy Giovanngelo Camporeale, University of Florence)
The largest Etruscan settlement ever found has been discovered in the Tuscan plain near Lake Accesa, Italy. Dubbed the "Etruscan Pompeii" for its potential to illuminate many new facets of Etruscan daily life, the late-seventh-early-sixth-century B.C. town covers 75 acres and features still-intact house foundations, streets, and tombs.
Up to this time, almost all of the information we have about the Etruscans comes from their tombs; the team at this new, unnamed town, led by Giovanngelo Camporeale of the University of Florence, has already excavated five residential quarters.
These quarters are laid out on a rectangular plan with houses built on streets that intersect at right angles. The houses had stone foundations that remain, while the brick walls joined to the tile-covered roofs by wooden beams disappeared long ago. The town has been identified as a mining community, and the iron, copper, and tin it produced was most likely exported to Greece in exchange for the ceramics for which Etruscan tombs are famous.
According to Camporeale, each quarter of the town had about ten houses and controlled one mine. Mine managers lived in the houses while the slaves who worked the mines lived in nearby huts, which have also been identified. Much of the actual metalworking may have taken place in an industrial quarter next to the lake that is nearby.
At some point the town was abandoned; its inhabitants seem to have taken their expensive roof tiles with them.
© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America