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Etruscan Houses

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Etruscan Houses

The Etruscans originally settled in umbria and Tuscany, but in time moved into the greeks areas along the shoreline of Italy. It is precisely unknown where the Etruscans originated but whatever thier origins they were in possession of a great deal of both oiginality and also chose much of the best fo the local native house styles as well as the house forms of the Western Greeks who at that time were settled in sicily and in some parts of southern Italy. This combination of styles was referred to as "villanovan" which originated in the northern areas of Italy.

They possesed an advanced mastery of masonry in tufa, and left behind them ample evidence also of thier prodigious skills in carpentry. The tombs of Caere (Cerveteri) and the extraordinary efforts in the building and archetechture in rome during the tyrannical period of the Tarquins give a great deal of evidence to thier archetectural skills and desins.

A basic design favored bythe Etrusan archetects and builders as shown in Veii and in Rome was a rectanular design with a shallow ante-chamber and a deep rear ro in which was installed the hearth. The tomb sectors at Orvieto give some indication of the layout of Etruscan streets in the city forms of the larger communities. These street designs suggest tombs bordering the street shaped like houses with the streets themselves intersecting at right angles to each other. There is also a suggestion that something resembling "strip-housing" was desiged for industrial cities where large numbers of laberors were housed.. An example of this can be seen at a town named Marzabotto (which is suggested to be the ancient city of Misa) found in the Appenines a few miles South of Felsinja. The stone foundations indicate timber ramed construction, with a paved central courtyard and living quarters arranged around it. , some times in a rather haphazard way.. Normally a well or cistern was found in this courtyardusually with some sort of drainage facility into the street which was designed to carry away waste water.

The Marzabotto residences featured small er rooms, and these were directly on the street indicating that they could have been intended for the use a various, shops like leather workers, weavers, gold / silver smith, and the like. They were also probably utilized a sales shops and in some cases homes. There was also the concern for providing an area for outside activitiessuch as laundry or cooking and as a space to put the wagons and work animals belonging to those people who owned farmland outside the town or village. It was the pebbl;ed court yards which were designed to meet this need.

Archaelogical findings indicate that Etruscan Houses were based on the Atruium. A unique Etrusan innovation seems to be the the large reception hall. The central hall way is dominant in both the templeas and the houses of this period. Another change was indicated from the well and courtyard of earlier times to a roofed living space with a vaulted cistren beneath to collect rainwater. A situartion of an expanding commumity demanded that space conideration be reconsidered to serve the needs of additional households. The main rooms of the house are thought to have been groupede closely around the central space, hall or atriumwhich was then covered with a beamed and ridged roof.. the3 roof of the main room of the house was usually richly coffered in the ceiling style. This main room would usually lie directly opposite the doorwayin a house design such as this.

(to be continued)

Alexander Gordon McKay, "Etruscan Houses ," -- Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean, Greece and Rome, Vol. III, Charles Scribners Sons, New York, 1988, P.1371.


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