- Sanctuaries played an important role in Etruscan religion. Those of South Etruria were generally more formal, at least from the sixth century BC, than those of North Etruria and contain well-defined temple precincts (including boundary walls and developed entrances), elaborate terracottas as decoration, and liturgical foci such as altars and structured votive deposits, as opposed to the simpler structures for the reception of votive deposits found in North Etruria. This more cultural landscape concentrated in the southern zone may have emerged historically from a wider pattern of ritual marking of the natural landscape within all Etruria. Sanctuaries were the depositories of many rich items of material culture such as bronzes, ceramics, and inscriptions. This density of objects shows them to be the centers of exchange and the loci of important and changing power relations. Individuals such as Velianus Thefarie at Pyrgi emerge as important power brokers through their presence at sanctuaries, in distinct locations that mediate power relations and competition at the political center and on political boundaries.In South Etruria, sanctuaries are best defined by their spatial position with respect to the urban settlement. Major urban sanctuaries within or close to urban settlements are known from well-preserved structures from Orvieto (e.g., Belvedere), Tarquinia (e.g., Ara della Regina), and Veii (e.g., Portonaccio). Evidence for eight urban sanctuaries that are less well preserved is seen at Caere. Another type of sanctuary has been found to be associated with the cemetery of the city, as at Orvieto (e.g., Cannicella). A further type of sanctuary is found at the boundary between rival city-states, as for example at Punta della Vipera between Caere and Tarquinia. The last type of sanctuary is found in port entrepots of the major southern cities at Pyrgi and Gravisca, often combining the ritual practices of Etruscan and non-Etruscan communities.In North Etruria and neighboring Umbria, sanctuaries that are less well defined, constituting ritual deposits, tend to mark the limits of the natural landscape, from the valley bottom as at Brolio to the mountain top as at Monte Falterona, and it is here that bronze figurines are often deposited.See also ARTUMES; BAGNI DI STIGLIANO; BAGNI DI VICARELLO; BANDITELLA; BARANO; CASALE PIAN ROSETO; CHIANCIANO; COLFIORITO; DODECAPOLIS; FANUM VOLTUMNAE; FOCE DEL MARANGONE; FONDACCIO-CASALE MARCELLO; GIFT GIVING; GUALDO TADINO; HERCLE; LEUKOTHEA; LUCUS FERONIAE; MARZABOTTO; MONTE CIMINO; MONTETOSTO AND MONTETOSTO ALTO; MURLO; NARCE; PALLOTTINO, Massimo; TRASIMENO LAKE; TURAN; VEA; VEII; VOLTUMNA.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.