Sites & cities that bear the name of Vulci


Today in : Italy
First trace of activity : ca. 9th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 8th century C.E
Recorded names : Velx, Velch, Volci

Description : Vulci or Volci (Etruscan: Velch or Velx, depending on the romanization used) was a rich and important Etruscan city. As George Dennis wrote, "Vulci is a city whose very name ... was scarcely remembered, but which now, for the enormous treasures of antiquity it has yielded, is exalted above every other city of the ancient world." Many impressive remains of the city can be seen today. Vulci was located near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea about 80 km northwest of Rome, on the Fiora River, between Montalto di Castro and Canino. The Vulci, like other Etruscans, became master sculptors in bronze as acknowledged by ancient writers. Although most large bronzes have been lost, there remain some magnificent examples of Etruscan bronze work such as the Chimera of Arezzo and the Monteleone chariot, possibly made in Vulci. The Vulci were a tribe or people who gave their name to their city and were one of the legendary twelve peoples of Etruscan civilization who later formed the dodecapolis Etruscan League to protect their interests. Although the wealth, magnificence and population of Vulci must have been among the first of Etruscan cities, it is mentioned only rarely in ancient literature or potential texts for some periods have been lost; hence the history of Vulci may be reconstructed mainly from archaeology. In the Villanovan period, the wealth of metal resources in the Colline Metallifere hills was important in the development of trade especially with Sardinia. The most important discovery that testifies to the contact between Etruscans and Sardinians in this period was the Tomb of the Sardinian Bronzes in 1958 in the necropolis of Cavalupo, dated 850–800 BC, of a Sardinian woman of high rank. Among the funeral contents is a magnificent bronze statue of a warrior now in the National Etruscan Museum in the Villa Giulia. Numerous Villanovan fibulas have also been found in Sardinia. Vulci's expansion in the Orientalising period of the 8th century BC is marked by the start of production of bronze objects such as covered urns in the shape of a house or cone, and the first of these products showed up in Greece towards the end of the century. The 7th century is represented by the tomb of the Bronze Wagon, and in its later stages valuable and sophisticated products were imported from many Mediterranean markets showing the rise in wealth and culture of Vulci, whilst many Greeks came to live in Vulci as shown by the craftsmanship, manufacture and trade in fine ceramics (e.g. bucchero), bronze and gold. Vulci's golden age of influence and wealth was in the 6th century BC when it ruled over the cities of Orbetello, Saturnia, Sovana, Castro, Pitigliano and Marsiliana. It became a centre of imports of refined Attic pottery, precious oriental balm, beautiful jewels of the most unusual shapes to satisfy its wealthy citizens, as is shown by the many masterpieces of Greek and Etruscan art from the tombs in national museums today. In return it exported its treasures throughout the Mediterranean: pottery, bronzes and wine. The original port of Vulci was a quay on the river Fiora but the expansion of trade led it to build a larger coastal port at Regisvilla (or Regae) and it became a major maritime power although it was located some miles up the river, like Rome. Originally the Etruscans were co-founders of Rome and they continued to dominate it. Vulci had some influence on early Rome, as Servius Tullius and the Vibenna brothers (Caile and Avle Vipinas) were from Vulci. Their names and pictures appear on a fresco in the François Tomb. After the population of Rome had become predominantly Italic, the Etruscan kings were overthrown. After a time of crisis in the 2nd half of the 5th century, Vulci seems to have undergone a new expansion in the 4th century when the great tombs were built such as the François tomb. The Roman–Etruscan Wars lasted many years before the Romans gained control over Etruria and the Etruscans were soundly defeated at Lake Vadimo in 310 and 283 BC. Nevertheless, Vulci was strong enough to further resist until Tiberius Coruncanius triumphed over Vulci in 280 BC and the colonia of Cosa was founded in its territory. The Romans took the coast from Vulci, cutting the base of their power which seems to have led to the decline of the city. The Etruscan league splintered apart during the war and the Etruscans were soon assimilated.

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