Sunday, February 14, 2010

snow, the Cimino forests, Etruscans

Here is Elena's photo, from the car, yesterday morning, going out from Soriano towards Viterbo, through the Cimini mountains and forests. Together with a photo of the forests taken today from the castle, snow gone. The historical importance of these, the forests now no doubt much thinner than in antiquity - and of course easier to see through with snow on the ground - is as a natural defensive barrier, for various people at various times.

The Etruscans dominated western central Italy from around 1000 to 300 BC, not ruling as one state but as a number of city states sharing language and evolving culture. The basis of their power was the fact that their territory, east and north of the Tiber, the coast, the island of Elba and inland through Florence and to Perugia, was source of much of the iron and copper and tin of the Mediterranean basin... bronze being an alloy of 85% copper to 15% (or so) tin.

So their wealth grew in trade with the Phoenicians, who had a port on the coast, Carthage (which seceded from Phoenicia, the great achievements of Phoenicia being that they were the first to sail the Mediterranean in winter) and Greece - the Greeks overland via southeastern Italy to the extent that the sea to the west tended to be controlled by Carthage and Phoenicia and later Rome. As Rome rose Etruscan city states fell under their rule, gently or violently. There is little left of Etruscia, their houses being largely of wood and all but their very extensive cemeteries sacked by the Romans.

The Cimini were the best defence of the Etruscans against the Romans. Their cities south of the Cimini fell relatively easily to expanding Rome.

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