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Etruscan Amphorae and Trade in the Western Mediterranean, 800-400 B.C.E.

Joshua A. Daniel
Thesis: May 2009
Chair: Carlson
Nautical Archaeology Program

The Etruscans dominated central Italy from the eighth to the fifth centuries B.C.E. Within this time, they maintained both direct and indirect trade networks with other cultures. There are two categories of evidence that demonstrate the nature of Etruscan relationships with the other inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin: ancient written sources and archaeological data. The objective of this thesis is to produce a new study on the nature of Etruscan trade, commerce, and seafaring from the eighth to the fifth centuries B.C.E. based on recent underwater discoveries that have not yet been evaluated against existing theories. The ancient written sources for Etruscan seafaring can be divided into two distinct thematic groups. These include Etruscan piracy and commerce. The archaeological evidence for Etruscan commodities consists of eleven shipwrecks found off the coasts of France and Italy, the excavation of three ports on the western coast of Italy, tomb paintings, and clay ship models. Materials from the shipwrecks include amphorae, or two-handled clay storage jars, and associated pottery, which together comprise the basis of this study. In a final section, previous research on the subject of Etruscan seafaring, commerce, and piracy will be re-evaluated in light of recent discoveries.

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