- The study of Etruscan skeletal remains, in spite of the wide availability of ancient human remains, has been relatively neglected, so it is difficult to infer reliable evidence about the prevalence of disease. Studies of the Ferrone cemetery seem to suggest longevity and little visible bone-related disease. More general studies confirm the level of infective disease of the bone, although tuberculosis may have been present. However, arthritis of the spine has been noted in some populations and indicators of stress on bones and teeth in others. Study of teeth at Tarquinia and Chiusi suggests low levels of caries, high levels of wear, and high levels of tooth loss during life, accompanied by arthritis of the jaw. There is some evidence for false teeth of gold (for example, at Tarquinia and Poggio Gaiella in Chianti) among the Etruscan elite, suggesting both tooth loss and ability to alleviate it. Some work has also been carried out on the age of death indicated by inscriptions; although this evidence needs to be read with caution if it is interpreted as a real age of death, the commemorated age of death averages in the forties, with peaks in the twenties and in ripe old age. Other work at Veii and Tarquinia has been carried out on life expectancy directly on human bones; these studies suggest a decline in life expectancy in the seventh to sixth century BC, the period of consolidation of urbanism.Malaria most probably developed as a major problem in the late Etruscan and early Roman period, once lagoon formation (in part a product of intensive agricultural activity) and levels of human populations combined with the spread of malaria-carrying mosquito populations. Etruscan drainage may have positively affected the occurrence of the disease by removing the lagoons. Evidence from Pontecagnano of a medical condition of the cranium, porotic hyperostosis, may indicate local occurrence of malaria in the seventh to sixth century BC, declining in the fifth to fourth century BC, perhaps after drainage.See also TRAUMA.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.