is the modern English name given to the culture and way of life of a people of ancient Italy
and Corsica whom the ancient Romans
called Etrusci or Tusci.
The origins of the Etruscans are lost in prehistory. The main hypotheses are that they are indigenous, probably stemming from the Villanovan culture, or that they are the result of invasion from the north or the Near East
Etruscan expansion was focused both to the north beyond the Apennines and into Campania. Some small towns in the 6th century BC have disappeared during this time, ostensibly consumed by greater, more powerful neighbors. However, there exists no doubt that the political structure of the Etruscan culture
was similar, albeit more aristocratic, to Magna Graecia
in the south. The mining and commerce of metal, especially copper and iron
, led to an enrichment of the Etruscans and to the expansion of their influence in the Italian peninsula and the western Mediterranean
sea. Here their interests collided with those of the Greeks
, especially in the sixth century BC, when Phoceans of Italy founded colonies along the coast of France, Catalonia and Corsica. This led the Etruscans to ally themselves with the Carthaginians, whose interests also collided with the Greeks.
Around 540 BC, the Battle
of Alalia led to a new distribution of power in the western Mediterranean Sea. Though the battle had no clear winner, Carthage
managed to expand its sphere of influence at the expense of both the Etruscans and the Greeks, and Etruria
saw itself relegated to the northern Tyrrhenian Sea. From the first half of the fifth century, the new international political situation meant the beginning of the Etruscan decline after losing their southern provinces. In 480 BC, Etruria's ally Carthage was defeated by a coalition of Magna Graecia cities
led by Syracuse
. A few years later, in 474, Syracuse's tyrant Hiero defeated the Etruscans at the Battle of Cumae. Etruria's influence over the cities of Latium and Campania weakened, and it was taken over by Romans and Samnites. In the fourth century, Etruria saw a Gallic invasion end its influence over the Po valley and the Adriatic coast. Meanwhile, Rome
had started annexing Etruscan cities. This led to the loss of their north provinces. Etruscia was assimilated by Rome around 500 BC.