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The Etruscology is an integral scientific discipline that deals with the study of history, language, culture and material legacy of the people of the Etruscans busy.

Etruscology is still a comparatively young science. It emerged after the study of the Etruscans had previously been a sub-discipline of several other sciences, all of which they viewed, however, only as a marginal phenomenon. So you can find roots of Etruscology in Classical Philology and Indo-European Linguistics , as well as in Classical Archeology and Prehistory and Early History or Ancient History , Legal History and the History of Religion .


According to a widespread view, the subject tries to solve the "riddle of the Etruscans". Modern Etruscology assumes that the Etruscans are not "enigmatic", but that one only has to interpret the existing sources. On the other hand, one struggles with the "mother disciplines", which often do not see Etruscology as being of equal value because the methods of Etruscology - owing to the research content - sometimes have different research approaches.

Another problem - some also see it as an advantage - is that Etruscology, like Egyptology and Ancient American Studies, is an integral science. Etruscology still unites all research areas of science under one roof: philology, archeology, history, religious and legal history. However, in recent years there have been signs that specialization in Etruscology is advancing so far that various sub-disciplines are diverging, as is the case with the earlier Classical Studies or Assyriology .

Etruscan chairs are still rare today. Even lecturers for etruscology are very few. When Etruscology is taught, it is mostly in connection with Italian antiquity .


The occupation with the Etruscans began in the late Middle Ages and in the Renaissance . The finds of magnificent graves in particular generated growing interest in the ancient people. However, until the 18th century there was hardly any real scientific study of the subject. A first attempt at scientific investigation was the work De Etruria regali by the Scot Thomas Dempster (1579-1625), which was first printed in 1726, however. Even so, it became a particularly influential work. This partly still very amateurish confrontation with the Etruscans among Italian historians is called Etruscheria . One can distinguish between two different currents. One tried to ascribe large parts of ancient culture including art and architecture to the Etruscans. Even the Greek vases found in the graves were thought to be attributed to the Etruscans. The other direction dealt with the origin of the language and the Etruscans. Common to both directions was the uncritical or at least one-sided interpretation of the underlying sources and also an Italian-nationalist appropriation of the Etruscans. Despite this, interest in the Etruscans and, above all, the collection of their legacies was promoted. During this time, important museums and private collections were created, as well as the Accademia Etrusca (founded in 1726) in Cortona , which still exists today .

The development of classical archeology by Johann Joachim Winckelmann also brought more professionalism into Etruscology and Luigi Lanzi's studies advanced Etruscan linguistics. He also divided the works of Etruscan art into different epochs for the first time. The 19th century saw a rapid increase in archaeological artifacts. Etruscan research became more and more scientific and interests expanded. The Etruscan topography , for example, became the subject of research. Towards the end of the century began a rather negative assessment of Etruscan art, which was compared with the Greek. In Germany, under the leadership of Carl Pauli, attempts have been made since 1890 to collect all Etruscan epigraphic sources. This Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum (1893) was continued until the 1940s, abandoned by the Academy of Sciences of the GDR and the Central Institute for Ancient History and Archeology located there . In the 20th century , Etruscology finally developed into an independent science.

Institutions / institutes

In addition to the core areas of Greek and Roman archeology, the focus on Etruscan archeology is taught at the University of Zurich .

Research personalities

Main article: List of well-known Etruscologists


  • Ambros Josef Pfiffig : Introduction to Etruscology. Problems - Methods - Results. (= Die Aräologie. Introductions) Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1972 (4th edition 1991), ISBN 3-534-06068-7 .
  • Mauro Cristofani : The Etruscans. Belser, Stuttgart 1995.
  • Friedhelm Prayon : Etruscology. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 13, Metzler, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-476-01483-5 , Sp. 1054-1057.
  • Sybille Haynes : Etruscan civilization, a cultural history . J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles 2000.
  • Friedhelm Prayon: The Etruscans . 3rd edition, CH Beck, Munich 2003 (concise, but informative introduction).

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