The most recommended books on Etruscan civilization

Who picked these books? Meet our 5 experts.

5 authors created a book list connected to Etruscan civilization, and here are their favorite Etruscan civilization books.
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Book cover of The Religion of the Etruscans

Elisabeth Storrs Author Of The Wedding Shroud

From my list on the mythology of Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian author who lives on the other side of the Pond. I’m a self-confessed Romaholic but my great love is for the Etruscans. My curiosity was first piqued to learn about these people when I saw an Etruscan sarcophagus depicting a couple embracing for eternity. The casket was unusual because women were rarely commemorated in funerary art let alone a couple depicted in such a pose of affection. What ancient society revered women as much as men? Discovering the answer led me to the decadent and mystical Etruscan civilisation and the little-known story of a ten-year siege between Rome and the Etruscan city of Veii.

Elisabeth's book list on the mythology of Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans

Elisabeth Storrs Why did Elisabeth love this book?

The Etruscans had already established a sophisticated and cosmopolitan society centuries before the nascent Roman Republic was fighting tribal turf wars. At its peak, Etruria extended from the Po Valley in the north to Campania in the south, with trade routes spreading from the Black Sea through to Africa. The Etruscans had advanced the art of prophecy into a science with a complex codification of beliefs known as the Etrusca Disciplina revealing how to divine the future from thunder and lightning. I found The Religion of the Etruscans essential reading for my research as it provided insights into rites, beliefs, architectural meanings, and sacred texts of these doomed people.

Sadly, there is very little left of Etruscan literature other than religious inscriptions due to the Greeks and Romans destroying their civilisation. However, through recent archaeological digs, more and more has been gleaned as pieced together by the authors of the…

By Nancy Thomas de Grummond (editor), Erika Simon (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Religion of the Etruscans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Devotion to religion was the distinguishing characteristic of the Etruscan people, the most powerful civilization of Italy in the Archaic period. From a very early date, Etruscan religion spread its influence into Roman society, especially with the practice of divination. The Etruscan priest Spurinna, to give a well-known example, warned Caesar to beware the Ides of March. Yet despite the importance of religion in Etruscan life, there are relatively few modern comprehensive studies of Etruscan religion, and none in English. This volume seeks to fill that deficiency by bringing together essays by leading scholars that collectively provide a state-of-the-art overview…


Book cover of Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Elisabeth Storrs Author Of The Wedding Shroud

From my list on the mythology of Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian author who lives on the other side of the Pond. I’m a self-confessed Romaholic but my great love is for the Etruscans. My curiosity was first piqued to learn about these people when I saw an Etruscan sarcophagus depicting a couple embracing for eternity. The casket was unusual because women were rarely commemorated in funerary art let alone a couple depicted in such a pose of affection. What ancient society revered women as much as men? Discovering the answer led me to the decadent and mystical Etruscan civilisation and the little-known story of a ten-year siege between Rome and the Etruscan city of Veii.

Elisabeth's book list on the mythology of Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans

Elisabeth Storrs Why did Elisabeth love this book?

The ancient world has always held a fascination for me. It must be in my genes because one of my fondest memories is my father telling me stories about the Greek gods. As a kid, I also found a book in our house that had been handed down through generations within my family entitled The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens. This book was published in 1892 but Berens is still in print, no doubt in its umpteenth edition.

My book has a leather cover, the spine frayed so that the webbing that binds the folios is exposed. The pages are mottled, yellowing. It is a treasure. Inside, the lives of the fickle, adulterous, benevolent, or malevolent deities are revealed; their bickering and flaws similar to mortals but their ability to bless, curse, and manipulate man’s fate, divine.

By E.M. Berens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its incredible range of best-loved, essential classics.

'This was the slaying of the Minotaur, which put an end forever to the shameful tribute of seven youths and seven maidens which was exacted from the Athenians every nine years.'

The gods, heroes and legends of Greek mythology and their Roman interpretations are as fascinating as they are instructive. They include the almighty Zeus and his many wives; heroic Perseus, slayer of the snake-headed Medusa; Helen of Troy, whose beauty caused a great war; Medea, driven mad by jealousy; and tragic Persephone, doomed to live half of…


Book cover of The Greek Myths

Lance Lee Author Of Orpheus Rising: By Sam And His Father John With Some Help From A Very Wise Elephant Who Likes To Dance

From my list on YA/middle grade fantasy and their parents.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don't write within received categories: our lives aren't lived in categories, but are full of varying realities, whether of home, childhood, marriage, parenthood, fantasy, dream, work, or relaxation, and more all mixed together. I can't write in any other way, however dominant a particular strand or age may be on the surface in a given work. Orpheus Rising may have a child hero, and a fantastic, elegant Edwardian Elephant as a spirit guide, but it let me tell a story of love lost and regained, of family broken and remade, of a father in despair and remade, themes of real importance in any life.

Lance's book list on YA/middle grade fantasy and their parents

Lance Lee Why did Lance love this book?

This is the best collection of the Greek Myths I believe, and of course covers the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, the direct inspiration for my book. In the classical myth the poet and musician Orpheus loses his love, Eurydice, and sings his way into Hades, overcoming all opposition, until even Hades agrees to let him have Eurydice back in the living world, so long as he does not look back at her until returned there. Once in daylight he does look back, and loses her forever as she hasn't stepped into daylight too. However, unlike Orpheus my young hero succeeds.

By Robert Graves,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Greek Myths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Graves's classic retelling of the Greek Myths is definitive, comprehensive and unparalleled - and available now in the Penguin Classics Deluxe series, featuring a new introduction from Rick Riordan (bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and Olympian series).

Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version.

With…


Book cover of The Scarith of Scornello: A Tale of Renaissance Forgery

Sinclair Bell Author Of A Companion to the Etruscans

From my list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with ancient civilizations since my parents, amateur historians, moved our family to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, and we began to travel extensively around the Mediterranean, especially Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Jordan. I went on to study classical art and archaeology in graduate school in England, Scotland, and Germany, and excavated in Greece, Italy, and North Africa. My own research ranges widely, from the Etruscans to sport and entertainment in the Roman empire (about which I made a film with the Smithsonian, Rome’s Chariot Superstar). I currently live in Chicago, where I teach at a university. 

Sinclair's book list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans

Sinclair Bell Why did Sinclair love this book?

Ingrid Rowland is a fabulous writer, with a wide and frankly unrivalled knowledge of the art, architecture, and archaeology of Italy, from the Etruscans to modern day. She spins this little-known “17th-century caper” about the forgery of “Etruscan” artifacts with great verve, drawing the reader in like a good detective yarn. In her telling, what appears at first like a historical footnote ends up having implications far beyond, implicating—and scandalizing—the Vatican itself and beyond. 

By Ingrid D. Rowland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Scarith of Scornello as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bored teenager Curzio Inghirami staged perhaps the most outlandish prank of the seventeenth century when he hatched a wild scheme that preyed on the Italian fixation with ancestry by forging an array of ancient Latin and Etruscan documents. Stashing the counterfeit treasure in scarith (capsules made of hair and mud) near Scornello, Curzio reeled in seventeenth-century Tuscans who were eager to establish proof of their heritage and history. However, despite their excitement, none of these proud Italians could actually read the ancient Etruscan language, and they simply perpetuated the hoax. Written with humor and energy by Renaissance expert Ingrid Rowland,…


Book cover of Etruscan Art: in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sinclair Bell Author Of A Companion to the Etruscans

From my list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with ancient civilizations since my parents, amateur historians, moved our family to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, and we began to travel extensively around the Mediterranean, especially Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Jordan. I went on to study classical art and archaeology in graduate school in England, Scotland, and Germany, and excavated in Greece, Italy, and North Africa. My own research ranges widely, from the Etruscans to sport and entertainment in the Roman empire (about which I made a film with the Smithsonian, Rome’s Chariot Superstar). I currently live in Chicago, where I teach at a university. 

Sinclair's book list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans

Sinclair Bell Why did Sinclair love this book?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a collection of Etruscan art that is unrivalled within the United States, but for many decades it was not updated and many important works sat out of view. The reinstallation of the Etruscan galleries in 2007 was thus not only a major event for the museum’s public, but for the field of Etruscology more broadly. This sumptuously-illustrated book, written by a leading expert in Etruscan art, introduces the reader to the rich visual culture of the Etruscans, from their earliest creations to some of their most famous masterpieces. 

By Richard De Puma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Etruscan Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This informative and engaging book on the Museum's outstanding collection of Etruscan art also provides an introduction to the fascinating and diverse culture of ancient Etruria, which thrived in central Italy from about 900 to 100 B.C. Masterpieces of the collection include 7th century B.C. objects from the Monteleone di Spoleto tomb group (including the famous remarkably well-preserved bronze chariot), intricate gold jewelry, carved gems, and wonderful ambers. For the first time in more than 70 years, this incredible body of work is published in a comprehensive and beautifully designed book that draws upon decades of exhaustive research.

Etruscan Art…


Book cover of Etruscan Civilization: A Cultural History

Sinclair Bell Author Of A Companion to the Etruscans

From my list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with ancient civilizations since my parents, amateur historians, moved our family to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, and we began to travel extensively around the Mediterranean, especially Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Jordan. I went on to study classical art and archaeology in graduate school in England, Scotland, and Germany, and excavated in Greece, Italy, and North Africa. My own research ranges widely, from the Etruscans to sport and entertainment in the Roman empire (about which I made a film with the Smithsonian, Rome’s Chariot Superstar). I currently live in Chicago, where I teach at a university. 

Sinclair's book list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans

Sinclair Bell Why did Sinclair love this book?

If there is a Bible of Etruscan studies, this is it. The author is a revered authority in the field, having worked closely with Etruscan objects at the British Museum for many decades. Her “cultural history” is firmly rooted in the evidence of the Etruscan soil itself, and she is particularly adept at using material culture to dispense with the various Greek and Roman myths about the “mysterious” Etruscans. While the book is a mighty tome, both in its scholarly heft and physical weight, no serious student of the Etruscans can do without it. 

By Sybille Haynes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Etruscan Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This comprehensive survey of Etruscan civilization, from its origin in the Villanovan Iron Age in the ninth century B.C. to its absorption by Rome in the first century B.C., combines well-known aspects of the Etruscan world with new discoveries and fresh insights into the role of women in Etruscan society. In addition, the Etruscans are contrasted to the Greeks, whom they often emulated, and to the Romans, who at once admired and disdained them. The result is a compelling and complete picture of a people and a culture.
This in-depth examination of Etruria examines how differing access to mineral wealth,…


Book cover of The Etruscan World

Sinclair Bell Author Of A Companion to the Etruscans

From my list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with ancient civilizations since my parents, amateur historians, moved our family to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, and we began to travel extensively around the Mediterranean, especially Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Jordan. I went on to study classical art and archaeology in graduate school in England, Scotland, and Germany, and excavated in Greece, Italy, and North Africa. My own research ranges widely, from the Etruscans to sport and entertainment in the Roman empire (about which I made a film with the Smithsonian, Rome’s Chariot Superstar). I currently live in Chicago, where I teach at a university. 

Sinclair's book list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans

Sinclair Bell Why did Sinclair love this book?

This is a rich, encyclopedic-like collection of brief chapters about various aspects of Etruscan culture by all the major scholars (60!) in the field. If you are looking to gain access to Etruscan civilization by randomly reading about particular aspects—from art (the evidence of the earliest portraiture) to women’s lives to sport to engineering to trading contactsthen this is the book for you. All of the chapters are written very accessibly, andwhile shortthey are packed with information and helpful suggestions for further reading.

By Jean MacIntosh Turfa (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Etruscan World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Etruscans can be shown to have made significant, and in some cases perhaps the first, technical advances in the central and northern Mediterranean. To the Etruscan people we can attribute such developments as the tie-beam truss in large wooden structures, surveying and engineering drainage and water tunnels, the development of the foresail for fast long-distance sailing vessels, fine techniques of metal production and other pyrotechnology, post-mortem C-sections in medicine, and more. In art, many technical and iconographic developments, although they certainly happened first in Greece or the Near East, are first seen in extant Etruscan works, preserved in the…


Book cover of The Etruscans: A Very Short Introduction

Sinclair Bell Author Of A Companion to the Etruscans

From my list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with ancient civilizations since my parents, amateur historians, moved our family to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, and we began to travel extensively around the Mediterranean, especially Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Jordan. I went on to study classical art and archaeology in graduate school in England, Scotland, and Germany, and excavated in Greece, Italy, and North Africa. My own research ranges widely, from the Etruscans to sport and entertainment in the Roman empire (about which I made a film with the Smithsonian, Rome’s Chariot Superstar). I currently live in Chicago, where I teach at a university. 

Sinclair's book list on the ancient, “mysterious” Etruscans

Sinclair Bell Why did Sinclair love this book?

If you are looking for a short, accessible, and up-to-date introduction to the Etruscans, this is it. Like other works in the Very Short Introductions series, Smith’s scope is broad, his tone is chatty, and his discussion is highly current. Whether you are an undergraduate or a general reader, this book speaks to all audiences. 

By Christopher Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Etruscans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From around 900 to 400 BC, the Etruscans were the most innovative, powerful, wealthy, and creative people in Italy. Their archaeological record is both substantial and fascinating, including tomb paintings, sculpture, jewellery, and art. In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Smith explores Etruscan history, culture, language, and customs. Examining the controversial debates about their origins, he explores how they once lived, placing this within the
geographical, economic, and political context of the time. Smith concludes by demonstrating how the Etruscans have been studied and perceived throughout the ages, and the impact this has had on our understanding of their place…