Etruscans, as you may read here,
were one of the great peoples who inhabited the central
part of the Italian peninsula between the Arno and Tiber
rivers for many centuries beginning around the year 1100
BC. Indeed, there were Etruscan kings of Rome until the
founding of the Roman republic in 509 BC. Etruria was a
loose confederation of city-states rather than a single
state or empire. The cultural influence of the Etruscans,
however, was enormous throughout the peninsula, for they
were the ones who came into contact with the immigrant
Greeks of Magna Grecia, adopted the Greek alphabet and
passed it on to the Romans (and probably to the invading
Celts in 400 BC, that alphabet being the source of Celtic
runes, according to some.)
Etruscans are maddeningly enigmatic to us because,
of the thousands of Etruscan inscriptions found in Italy,
almost all are short funerary notes, names of the
interred. So we can pronounce the names because we know
the alphabet, but there isn't enough text of substance to
tell us anything more than that the language, and thus the
people, are not Indo-European. We know that they called
themselves "Rasna." (We still await the discovery of some
Etruscan writers, if not a Homer, then any graphomaniac
historian or spinner of tales will do —anything but a
bunch of names on tombs. What a waste of an alphabet!)
[See also: The Etruscan Language]
knowledge of the people, however, has come from studying
the Etruscan necropoli in Italy. The sites from the
seventh century (the 600s BC are rich, indeed; the burial
sites may contain chariots, ivory, bronze, amber and gold
ornaments. We have also found sanctuaries and temples with
images of Greek gods. All of that plus written accounts
about the Etruscans by Greek and Roman writers has
provided a picture of a culture based on extended family
units with internal hierarchies based on age with
particular deference to the eldest couple, the patriarch
[*The Gaudo culture was a neolithic culture primarily in the region of Campania, active at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. The culture is so named for the archaeological type site, Gaudo, a necropolis near Paestum at the mouth of the Sele river. The Gaudo culture is called an eneolithic culture due to its use of copper tools. The necropolis occupies about 2000 sq. meters and contains 34 separate tombs. It was discovered late in the year 1943, during the Allied invasion on the Salerno plain, when the construction of the Gaudo airfield unearthed some of the tombs. A British officer and archeologist, Lieutenant John G. S. Brinson, conducted a scientific excavation of the tombs, and recorded his findings in a notebook now held in the National Archeological Museum of Naples. Gaudo relics are at the archaeological museums of both Paestum and Naples.
Although still speculative, some think that the Gaudo culture was a result of immigration from Anatolia (modern Turkey). This would not be unique since it is now widely held that the later Etruscans were also from Anatolia. The Gaudo population worked metals as may be seen from copper daggers and other weapons excavated from the necropolis. The tombs as well as ornamental objects found in the tombs and other underground spaces —some items apparently used for sacrificial purposes—indicate the presence of a sacred area. The tombs are typically of the "oven" variety—that is, chambers dug down into rock, providing space for both single as well as collective burials. The Gaudo culture seems to have begun in Campania and then spread south to Lucania and Calabria.]
So far, archaeologists have found about 9,000 tombs in the area. Many of the artifacts such aspottery, jewely, etc. may be viewed at The National Archaeological Museum of the Agro Picentino (Picentine Plain) and at the Archaeology Park of Pontecagnano. The museum is divided into six sections, running from Prehistoric (3500-2300BC) to the age of the Romans (3rd century BC to 5th century AD). At its height, the town of Picentia, as in Etruria, proper, seems to have been a society in which political and economic power was in the hands of an aristocracy, dominated by powerful princes who lived a luxurious life-style. The museum has a breath-taking display of one the oldest aristocratic tombs yet found in Campania. It is of a princess, accompanied in death by a vast array of jewelry and other symbols of rank. Such tombs reflect a certain social model in which Etruscan women enjoyed greater prestige and power than their Greek or Roman counterparts.
The in situ Archaeology
Park in Pontecagnano covers 85 hectares/210 acres. Much of
the work has thus far concentrated on Roman Pictentia, but
the entire area is the object of intense archaeology, and
time will reveal much more.
and Gianni Bailo Modesti. "Pontecagnano (SA) - Between
The City and the Sanctuary: The Excavations along the
Motorway's SA/RC Extension" in Newsletter Archeologia (CISA), no. 0
[sic], pp. 6-21, pub. by the Orientale University of
Larissa. "Etruscans" in The Oxford Companion to Archaeology.
Oxford U. Press, ed. by Brian M. Fagan, 1996.
—Fedei, Maurizio et al. "Integrated geophysical survey to recognize ancient Picentia’s buried walls, in the Archaeological Park of Pontecagnano – Faiano (Southern Italy)" in Annals of Geophysics, vol. 51, N. 5/6, October/December 2008. Published by INGV, the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, Bologna, Italy.
—Martin, Debra L. and David W. Frayer. Troubled times: violence and warfare in the past.
—Robinson, Andrew. "The Etruscan Alphabet" in Lost Languages; The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts. McGraw-Hill, 1957.