Arco Etrusco, prior to its current restoration

Though Perugia is in the modern Italian province of Umbria, its urban origin is Etruscan, a civilization/culture that flourished in central Italy (with expansions to the north and south) from the eighth-third centuries B.C., in concert with an explosion of trade opportunities with Greek and Phoenician sailors and settlers (and the growing city-state of Rome that eventually swallowed them all). The Arco Etrusco on the north side of Perugia (rebuilt in the [Roman] Augustan period) evidences the architectural ambitions of the town (basically, everything below the spring of the lower arch is Etruscan masonry).

There is plenty of argument about the Etruscans on all fronts, but one of the most stubborn issues concerns whether the ‘Etruscans’ were migrants to Italy (their language is non Indo-European) or developed locally from what is known archaeologically as the ‘Villanovan‘ culture.

A few days ago a colleague sent around a 2007 story from the New York Times about the origins of the Etruscans, and how DNA evidence had corroborated the story in Herodotus’ Histories about the Etruscans coming from Anatolia. Here is that Times article.

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