City and Country in the Ancient World

By John Rich; Andrew Wallace-Hadrill | Go to book overview

8

Towns and territories in southern Etruria

T.W. Potter

In an archaeological sense, the landscape of southern Etruria is amongst the most closely investigated in the Mediterranean. Topographical studies have a very long history in the region, and have particularly benefited in this century from the work of first Thomas Ashby (1927; Castagnoli 1986) and, in the post-war era, of John Ward-Perkins (1962, 1968). Detailed field survey has provided the data for a remarkable series of period-maps, where the major centres, smaller settlements, individual farms and the successive road systems can be plotted (Potter 1979). No one would of course claim that every site has been identified, nor that surface finds always provide a tight chronology; but the information that is available does allow the construction of some interesting models for the history of settlement in the region, which have inspired many other comparable projects in Italy and elsewhere (Barker 1986). If one result has been to emphasise the extraordinary diversity of landscape histories, then it is an important antidote to any tendency to generalise from the South Etruria model. Topographical studies do show many similarities from one region to another in Italy (Potter 1987), and elsewhere in the western Mediterranean; but it is the differences in settlement trends that is the more striking feature.

Moreover, for southern Etruria, the proximity of Rome has exerted a profound influence upon its development since at least as early as the fifth century BC, if not before; for this reason alone, one is dealing with an unusual-if not unique-example of town-country relationships. Communications between Rome and southern Etruria have long been easy-a factor that indeed facilitated and encouraged the topographical work of the British School at Rome-and the

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