DESCENT GROUP
   The important constituent part of Etruscan social structure, which represented the family through time and was extensively celebrated in ancestral cults. Studies of burial groups may give an indication of the precise formation of the descent group. Some tombs may be defined as agnatic, since the only identifiable individuals are men. The most common pattern is of tombs that contain the male descent group together with women who have married into the descent group. In a number of cases, the unmarried daughters are included. In the later tombs of North Etruria, married women’s remains were also allowed to return to their male descent group at the time of death. Occasionally, although the male line remained dominant, some kin from the female line were permitted to enter the tomb as well. Purely female tombs and collective non-kin burials did occur but were much rarer. The descent group increased its power by intermarriage and enlarged landownership, as shown prominently in the case of the Curuna. Recent work suggests considerable slippage between descent groups, permitting mobility and changing ascription of identity. Well-attested examples of stable descent groups include the Cai Cutu and Volumni from Perugia, the Matuna and Tarxna from Caere, the Alenas, Ceisinie, Curuna, Murinas, Pinie, Pulena, Pumpu, Salvie, Smurina, Spitu, Spurinna, Velcha from Tarquinia, the Hescana and Leinie from Orvieto, the Tolumne of Veii, the Satie of Vulci, and the Marcni and Hepni from North Etruria. Some descent groups showed mobility between their original cities, such as the Tarna (who expanded from Caere to Vulci), or the velie (who expanded from Orvieto to the later foundations of Musarna and Tuscania), or the Tute (who expanded from Vulci and Tuscania into North Etruria), or the influential Vipena (who are found in a number of cities in South Etruria).
   See also ELOGIA; GENTILICIUS; IDENTITY; SOCIAL CLASS.

Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. .

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