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Home Archaeology Etruscan and Celtic population in Emilia Romagna

Etruscan and Celtic population in Emilia Romagna

Between the end of the 13th century and the middle of the 12th century BC a drastic reduction in population and the sudden abandonment of settlements marked the end of the Terramare and other contemporary cultures.

A different historical and cultural settlement reestablished itself in this area around the 9th century BC during the Iron Age and the rise of the Villanovian culture, one of the largest civilizations in Italy during the pre-Roman era, both in terms of diffusion as well as in terms of material finds left behind. Today, this population is recognized as the earliest form of Etruscan civilization.


Etruscan and celtic population in ER JPG


Historical sources attribute the expansion into the Padana flatland to the Etruscans of Tarquinia or Perugia; they founded the settlement of Felsina (Bologna), a sort of capital city of the territory which they controlled at that time, twelve cities united in a confederacy with rural communities in between. Among the main population centers, worth mentioning are Kainua-Marzabotto, Mutina-Modena, Mantua-Mantova, Spina near what is today Comacchio, and Adria.

The Etruscan domain extended as far north as the Po River, while to the west it went as far as Secchia, where the important site of Rubiera-Misa or Misala was located, with some points also reaching into the valleys of Enza, Taro and others. To the south, the Etruscans went into the valleys of the Apennines while to the East they reached the Adriatic, even occupying the entire coast and the inland around Rimini. Here, along the Marecchia Valley, the settlement of Verucchio flourished for several centuries, an important crossroads in the distribution and working of Baltic amber.

The process of occupying lands, with the subsequent formation of a political and economic way of life, did not happen all at once, but can be divided instead into two successive phases. In the second phase – beginning about halfway through the 6th century BC – we see the Etruscans, once they have lost their hold on the Tyrrhenian, trying to find alternative trading routes. Thus, the Padana flatland became a crossroads routes running over land, through the Apennines, and by rivers and seas, which both connected the Italian peninsula to trans-alpine Europe, while also opening the doors to the Greek and Aegean worlds. In this period, several cities are founded or "re-founded": Spina, at the mouth of the Po River, which took over the role held by Verucchio as the stopping place before entering the Marecchia Valley, Marzabotto, a perfect example of refined urban culture, and of course Felsina, the fulcrum of the renewed political system of that era.

At the beginning of the 4th century BC, Celtic populations from Europe and from Transpadana (between the Po River and the Alps) heavily invaded the area of the Etruscan and Umbrian populations, pushing as far as Rome, which was sacked in 388/387 BC by the Senones of Brennus and forced to surrender. South of the Po River, between Parma and Romagna, the Boii established a settlement, between them and the Adriatic, there was the Lingone tribe, while the area between Romagna and the territory of the Picentes, today known as the Marche region, was occupied by the Senones. The invasion of the Celts had explosive effects on the urban system set up by the Etruscans: the cities became less important and the organization of the territory was thus based on a system of agricultural settlements in the plains and on raised villages perched on hills, which controlled the old and new routes through the Apennines.

The Roman victory at Sentinum in 295 BC marked the defeat of the Senones and Sabellians along with their Italic allies and allowed the military expansion of Rome to stretch out beyond the Apennines, towards the Adriatic Sea. Romanization began in 268 BC; in that same year the colony of Ariminum (Rimini) was founded, which then became the base from which all of Cisalpine Gaul was conquered.

(Text edited in collaboration with IBC – Dr.ssa Fiamma Lenzi)


Museums and Archeological Sites


Musei di Palazzo Farnese

Museo Civico Archeologico

Marzabotto (Bologna)
Museo Nazionale Etrusco "Pompeo Aria"
Area archeologica
Monterenzio (Bologna)
Museo archeologico "Luigi Fantini" e Sito archeologico di Monte Bibele

Museo Archeologico Nazionale
Verucchio (Rimini)
Museo Civico Archeologico

Last modified Jan 10, 2017

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