Ancient Pre-Roman Italy

Oct 2017
186
United States
#1
Latins, Sabines, Samnites... a collage of terms and I can after a bit of reading understand better what a picture of the area might be...

But basically I don't really know of any places or advanced research into this area.. basically I'm just curious what the relationships between the different groups were and how that was later put into the picture of Rome, overlap, etc.

Are there any interesting books or things of that nature on the topic that people could recommend? It's just a fairly recent interest so I'm not really sure what to make of it all.

I guess the short answer is that there were simply a number of Indo-European tribes in the region, and had their typical or atypical differences but the geography of Italy, being close to Africa, Gaul, Epirus, etc all simultaneously seem to make it a kind of cultural hub of sorts, where the actions of these other parties somewhat displaced the native inhabitants I would imagine.
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#3
From about what time did Rome begin to be more than one of many urban and political centres? And we may also ask why? Should we really believe it was due to some "essential" superiority of "Roman values"? Or could it have more to do with location, trade routes and how it fit into a more general italian and Meditteranean pattern?
 
Oct 2017
186
United States
#4
I'm thinking probably earlier than 750 BC, in general, but I'd be interested in knowing what happened to specific groups/etc after that point such as what their relationships were with Rome precisely and so on and so on.

So I guess that would be some combination of Iron and Bronze Age Italy? Perhaps...

And yeah I suppose, I'm trying to separate out or at least understand the "Romanness" of things in Italy versus all the other factors, because it appears there were many.

Especially nowadays with Game of Thrones, where it feels like there is this breakdown of the increidble complexity in areas that we now just generically call "France, Spain" etc (IMO France and Spain are inspirations)

And yet that doesn't really exist at all for Italy from a historical perspective, so far as I've seen.

Nowadays I see the "Etruscans" bandied about a lot as perhaps an answer to this question... but they clearly seemed to be distinct from Samnites and other groups.

Plus the Latins as a separate group from Romans, but then Romans speak Latin, and Romans often come from Alba Longa which isn't in Rome... can't help but ask a lot of questions really...

Plus only a few of Rome's Romans were "Roman" most were Italics... and by being "Roman" they were basically Trojan... and not really Italian or even Greek necessarily.

Since a lot of people seem to have a tremendous amount of knowledge and in-depth analysis concerning various phrases of Rome, I'm hoping to skip really that entire period from beginning to end since there are tons of things on that everywhere, and try and hone in one sources of information about the period other than wikipedia and the internet in general.

So, before the Roman Kingdom and certainly before the Republic and other periods.

I also have some curiosity about the end, Soissons and such, but that's outside of Italy so that's in a different topic point.
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#5
About the Etruscan civilization, keep in mind that they spoke a non Indo-European language. And this is quite interesting. Before of them, in that region there was the culture of Villanova [early Iron Age, the name of this culture comes from the name of a town near Bologna where archaeologists detected it].

This culture was the dominant one from North to South [excluding the Alpine regions, the far South and the isles]. They existed around the second Indo-European wave in the peninsula [IX-VIII century BCE]. There are not a few debates about the formation of a cohesive civilization or if that culture was simply diffused. Sure in the land of the Etruscan Villanova saw a certain level of organization and a remarkable density of settlements.

So, if you want to focus you attention to what existed in the Italian peninsula before of Rome, you can start from the Etruscan civilization [which knew Greek influences, but also contact with the very ancient cultures in Sardinia … pirates from Sardinia raided their land, but there are also legends of foundation of towns involving the presence of people from Sardinia]. But to go to the Iron Age, I would say that the main actors on the scene were the culture of Villanova in central Italy, the culture of Golasecca here [Northern Italy / Alpine region], the “Apulo-Salentina” culture, the Sicilian [Sicula] culture and the Laziale one. There was also an other culture, less characterized, which is recognizable by the tombs: they used ditch tombs.

Personally I would concentrate the attention on Villanova and Golasecca.
 
Likes: Rovi
Oct 2017
186
United States
#6
Hm, there's a couple interesting points to me...

The first is that, so Villanovan culture had close connections Golasecca as I saw a few places,, basically perhaps these groups in Central Italy were in more of the Alps regions for a time, before coming down?

That's also interesting about Sardinia, so that would of been like Nuraghe cultures and influences, potentially.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,332
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#7
In Sardinia you can find sites from a culture contemporary to Sumer like this one:


It's called Accoddi Mountain.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_d%27Accoddi]

Regarding the relations between Golasecca and Villanova, keep in mind that it's a diffused opinion tha Villanova was the real Italic colonization of the peninsula [it was, btw, similar to the urnfield culture]. And it was Villanova to introduce iron working here. They came from North, with all probability and so the interaction with Golasecca was obvious.
 
Mar 2015
767
Europe
#8
Plus only a few of Rome's Romans were "Roman" most were Italics... and by being "Roman" they were basically Trojan... and not really Italian or even Greek necessarily.
How "basically"?
Time spanned by St. Omobono fill. Of uncertain provenance, but likely scraped from Capitol Hill early 6th century BC.
Containing a lot of pottery sherds, datable by comparison with other Appennine Culture sites from 16th to 10th century BC.

We also know what the pottery of Troy VI/VII looked like.

If Rome was "basically" Trojan, did Trojan pottery suddenly appear in St. Omobono fill in 12th century BC, like Orientalizing pottery did in 7th?
 
Oct 2015
671
Virginia
#9
Italy was far from homogenous linguistically or culturally in the 8th century BC. The valley of the Po was occupied by Celts; Ligurians on the coast south of the Appenines; peoples with Illyrian affinities (Veneti, Picentes, Umbrians) lived in Venezia, Umbria and the Romagna, as did people with similar linguistic elements in Apulia (Messapians, Iapygians. Dauni). The Etruscans (who's provenance is still not clear) dominated Tuscany, and Greek colonies controlled Campania and the southern ports. None of these people spoke Italic languages, and the Greeks and Etruscans possessed advanced urban cultures that influenced other peoples.

Italic speaking people occupied the rest of the peninsula; Latins in Latium, Sabellian speakers in the Appenines, Lucanians and Bruttians in the mountains of the south.

Since two of the most fertile (and suitable for urban development) regions of Italy (Tuscany and Campania) were dominated by Etruscans and Greeks, Latium was the most productive region controlled by Italic speaking people. The other Italic people lived a semi-pastoral life in isolated cantons in the mountains. Cities developed in Latium, and Rome (at the ford of the Tiber) became the largest city, and eventually the leader of the league of Latin towns.
 
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May 2017
219
Italy
#10
How "basically"?
Time spanned by St. Omobono fill. Of uncertain provenance, but likely scraped from Capitol Hill early 6th century BC.
Containing a lot of pottery sherds, datable by comparison with other Appennine Culture sites from 16th to 10th century BC.

We also know what the pottery of Troy VI/VII looked like.

If Rome was "basically" Trojan, did Trojan pottery suddenly appear in St. Omobono fill in 12th century BC, like Orientalizing pottery did in 7th?
No. Central Italian pottery from the bronze age can be easily distinguished from the Trojan one, furthermore there's no sign of proper urban cultures in Central Italy until the 8-7th century bc which would make no sense if the urbanized Trojans migrated there. The Villanovian culture and bronze age Anatolian cultures were different in everything: from the houses to the razors to the burials, there's no sign of migration in Central Italy during the late bronze age aside from those from the North. It's likely that people from the collapsed Terramare culture of Emilia settled in Central and South Italy creating conflicts and destruction, it's during this time that Naue II swords become widespread in Central and Southern Italy. and that there are signs of destruction all over Southern Italy. The Villanovian culture was clearly influenced by Northen European cultures like the urnfield and later by the Hallstat, you can see it in their weapons and attire.

As for possible Aegean influences in bronze age Italy, there's the famous "gray ware" pottery widespread in Southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia since the 14th century bc. However there are strong regional differences and thus the pottery from say, Sardinia can be easily distinguished from that of Calabria or Apulia. To my knowledge this pottery didn't make it to Central Italy, or at least it wasn't adopted there. This gray ware pottery was probably loosely based on Aegean prototypes, but it was clearly different and produced by the locals who simply adopted a slightly better technology, it's not a sign of foreign settlement and even more importantly it's lacking in Tuscany so if anything Central Italy was even less influenced by the Aegean peoples than places like Sicily or Sardinia which were clearly not Etruscan.
 
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