- The area of Etruria bounded by the Tiber River to the southeast and east and the Albegna Valley to the northwest. It contained the five cities of Veii, Caere, Tarquinia, Vulci, and Orvieto. The term is also employed more restrictedly for the survey area around Veii undertaken by the British School at Rome. Southern Etruria contains a heterogeneous zone of geology, dominated by volcanic activity and lower limestone relief. The northern volcanic province of Latium has generally an older history that started in Pliocene times, as in the case of the Tolfa hills, and ceased activity in the Pleistocene. Some of the recent dates of this activity are in the order of 95,000 to 90,000 years ago, although some lake deposits dated to about 40,000 years ago have been overlain by the most recent volcanic material (Tufo Giallo di Sacrofano). By the Etruscan period, volcanic activity would have been long distant, and the distinctive by-products of the landscape would have been more important. For instance, the Tolfa hills were an important source of metal ores. The morphology of the landscape is dominated by truncated, flat cones of low height, but wide diameter (up to 30 kilometers). To the north of the Tiber, some of the original calderas are occupied by deep lakes (e.g., Bolsena [146 meters deep], Vico, and Bracciano [160 meters deep]). Two of these lakes, Bolsena (114.5 square kilometers) and Bracciano (67.5 square kilometers), are the second and fourth largest lakes of the Italian peninsula. A further volcanic lake, Baccano, was drained in Roman times.South Etruria (or more exactly southeast Etruria) provides an important, well-studied region both from an archaeological and from a landscape perspective. Studies of the geology show how the stratigraphy of a volcanic landscape can support the procurement of a wide range of resources. The harder volcanic rocks provided selci for road surfaces, which can be sourced to particular deposits. The softer tuffs provided ready building material, readily cut into blocks for house foundations. Travertines, which precipitated out on the flanks of the Apennines, provided an alternative source of building material. The Plio-Pleistocene clays below these volcanic deposits, revealed by the down-cutting of the river systems, offered ready access to material for pottery production.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.
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