Acropolis and Shrines
The Etruscan City was real city-state, venue of the public authorities, places of worship, a dwelling with ecenomic-mercantile activities. Governed by the Lucumoni, the Etruscan cities were confederated into groups of twelve (Dodecapolis) while maintaining it’s political, legal and military autonomy.
From extensive documents from the Roman historians, we know that the Etruscan cities were administered according to a rigid regime with a religious background, a concept similar to other civilizations such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and the Celts.
From the excavations of the ancient Misa, the current Marzabotto, we know that the city was developed according to a precise plan: the houses are aligned along wide streets that intersect at right angles, while the town is surrounded by mighty walls made of stone blocks. Generally positioned on tuffaceous spurs or hill tops, they were well protected by natural defences, the access consisting of one or more gates.
Instead little or nothing is known about the structure of the houses, of which only the stone foundations remain, the upper parts were built using unfired bricks, with poles connnected by transverse rods, and a filling made with canes, branches and clay plaster, materials easily damaged over the centuries.
In Murlo (Siena) a team of American archaelogists has unearthed a building dating back to the VII century b.c. entirely dismantled and buried, rich in gold and ivory artworks and complete with decorations, statues, terracotta sphinxes and acroteria that adorned the roofs. This discovery documented the architecture of Etruscan noble palaces.
The Etruscan cities from the largest to the smallest, had one or more areas dedicated to their places of worship. In some cases, within the city we find more than one sacred place and with a maximum of eight (like in Orvieto) or a single sacred area that contained multiple temples (Marzabotto)
Other monuments, mainly dedicated to Selvans, the god of bounderies, were positioned at the city gates or along the urban perimeter with a protective purpose We find shrines also outside the city walls, along the outgoing paths, actual meeting and resting points and near water courses, sometimes shared by numerous neighbouring towns.
The archeological site of Acquarossa near Viterbo, deserves a special acknowledgement, useful for the studies of homes, urban architecture and Etruscan noble houses, there is also a temple thought to be of poor architectural significance. The Town of Acquarossa dates back to the VII century BC; unique of it’s kind, this site also preserves traces of human settlements dating back to the Neolithic, Eneolithic period (between the end of the 3rd century b.c. and the beginning of the 2nd century b.c.) and the Appenine civilization. On the western side of the acropolis a village was discovered composed of huts dating back even earlier than the Etruscan period.