- The evidence for Etruscan warfare can be built up out of literary, iconographic, and archaeological information. The most secure information derives from archaeology, which has produced the evidence of funerary remains (arms and armor) and fortifications. Many of the most spectacular burials, such as the Tomba del Guerriero at Tarquinia (approximately 680 BC) and the Tomba del Duce at Vetulonia (circa 700 BC), exhibit the magnificent displays of panoplies of weaponry and must be seen primarily as prestige display. In this respect, warfare appears not only to be a practice associated with men, but also to be part of the material form of their ideology, an alternative male form of beautification.Once the combinations of weaponry (helmets, shields and greaves, swords, palstaves, and spears) are arranged in chronological order and combined with iconography, such as the stele of Aul Feluske at Vetulonia, the enduring importance of the single warrior engaged in more fluid and open combat seems to be the dominant mode of warfare. Some authors have noted a more collective phalanx type of warfare in the south of Etruria compared with a more individualistic warfare in the north. The character of the warfare would have been heavily reliant on small groups of heavily armed aristrocratic kin, supported by more lightly armed retainers. Many Etruscan cities were fortified as early as the seventh century BC, which would have provided as much a symbol of community as physical protection to add to the natural defense of the plateaus where they were placed. In warfare there was also a strong element of ritualistic spectacle and display. The Etruscans had a reputation for piracy at sea, but this appears to be an externalized reputation based on their economic power and trade.See also FORTIFICATION; HORSES.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.