William Sterling

The Etruscans: An Introduction

This course was being run by the City Lit on Saturday 13th April 2013, Saturday 29th April 2017 and Sunday 27th October 2019.  Although their language has been lost the influence of the Etruscans on the Greeks and Romans was enormous and many objects survive today. The course included a visit to the British Museum.

The Etruscans are one of the more mysterious civilisations of Ancient Europe. The Greeks and Romans are well known but the influence of the Etruscans on them is less well known. The course looked at the history of Etruria and the 12 Etruscans city states from the eighth century to the first century BC. This history is difficult to piece together as it relies on the accounts of outsiders and archaeology filling in the blanks. After the Romans took over rule of the Etruscan towns they continued to develop their own culture for some time until fully integrated. We looked at their religious beliefs and practices and how these changed over time as well as their culture and art as survives from the magnificent tombs. Fortunately, many objects have been excavated and the British Museum has a particularly fine collection of them. The final sessions of the day were tours of the Etruscan Gallery and a look at some of the Etruscan pieces in the Enlightenment Gallery, the Celtic Gallery, the Greek and Roman Life room and the Nineteenth Century room looking at the jewellery inspired by the Etruscans.

The following handouts were distributed during the courses.

Map of Italy showing Etruscan homeland and colonies

gods and goddesses

Revised version for 2019

gods, goddesses and heroes

The Etruscans a select bibliography


This timeline has been superseded by the following one including references to Livy

Timeline with Livy references

Etruscan alphabet and numbers


The Tarquins

Etruscan rulers

Translation of the Perugia Cippus rev

Theopompus of Chios

Pyrgi Tablets

Copies of the slides

history 2019 slides as handout

gods 2019 slides as handout

myths 2019 slides as handout

women 2019 slides as handout


Further information can be obtained by contacting me via email below.