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World Encyclopedia


Inhabitant of ancient Etruria (Tuscany and Umbria), Italy. They organized their sophisticated society into city-states. Etruscan civilization reached its peak in the 6th century bc - their wealth and power based primarily on skill at ironworking and control of the iron trade. The Etruscan ‘cult of the dead’ led them to produce elaborate tombs. From the 5th to the 3rd century bc they were gradually overrun by neighbouring peoples, particularly the Romans.