- The majority of evidence of Etruscan society is for the elite class, pervading all forms of material culture, inscriptions, buildings, religion, and above all their tombs. In this context, the descent group (or family [gens] over time) was the crucial constituent element. In the explicit material representation of society among the Etruscans, it was the relationship of the individual to the descent group that was preeminent in the articulation, preservation, and development of social class. In some cases, class differentiation can be seen through the identification of slavery, partly by the contrast in representation and partly through significant inscriptions. An interdisciplinary analysis of inscriptions, namely the loss of the slave epithet, provides evidence for social mobility between classes. Analysis of the development of a descent group such as that of the Cai Cutu of Perugia, gives an insight into social change in a city that has all the characteristics of being on a frontier, where social change is most marked. Marriage was a considerable motor of social mobility and the elaborate naming of the Etruscans from both male and female lines allows marriage links to be noted, as for example between Perugia and Volterra. The same mobility can also be identified at Perugia in the inclusion of non-Etruscan names such as Venete (from the Venetic north), showing the crossing of ethnic lines.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.
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