The best books on Etruscan civilization

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Etruscan civilization and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

By E.M. Berens,

Book cover of Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Wedding Shroud

By Elisabeth Storrs,

Book cover of The Wedding Shroud

What is my book about?

In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from Veii. Leaving her militaristic homeland, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. But, despite her best intentions, she is seduced by a culture that offers women education, independence, sexual freedom, and an empowering religion.

Enchanted by Veii but terrified of losing ties to Rome, Caecilia performs rites to delay becoming a mother, thereby postponing true entanglement. Yet as she develops an unexpected love for Mastarna, she’s torn between her birthplace and the city in which she now lives. As war looms, Caecilia discovers Fate is not so easy to control, and she must choose where her allegiance lies. The Wedding Shroud is the first book in A Tale of Ancient Rome saga.

The Religion of the Etruscans

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

Book cover of The Religion of the Etruscans

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…


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Wedding Shroud

By Elisabeth Storrs,

Book cover of The Wedding Shroud

What is my book about?

In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from Veii. Leaving her militaristic homeland, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. But, despite her best intentions, she is seduced by a culture that offers women education, independence, sexual freedom, and an empowering religion.

Enchanted by Veii but terrified of losing ties to Rome, Caecilia performs rites to delay becoming a mother, thereby postponing true entanglement. Yet as she develops an unexpected love for Mastarna, she’s torn between her birthplace and the city in which she now lives. As war looms, Caecilia discovers Fate is not so easy to control, and she must choose where her allegiance lies. The Wedding Shroud is the first book in A Tale of Ancient Rome saga.

Etruscan Civilization

By Sybille Haynes,

Book cover of Etruscan Civilization: A Cultural History

The Etruscans were a fascinating people with a rich and varied material culture, as well as a reputation for mystery, partly due to their enigmatic and unique language. They were an influential people in Italy before the expansion of Rome and their culture which had a profound influence on that of Rome and other Italian peoples. As such, they are central to our understanding of early Italy. Haynes presents an approachable account of the origins and development of the Etruscans, integrating complex historical, archaeological, and art historical evidence into a readable account.

She weaves together a chronological survey of the Etruscans, their origins, expansion, and eventual decline, with an appreciation and explanation of their stunning visual and material culture to present a work that combines history, archaeology, and art history.


Who am I?

I have a lifelong fascination for history and archaeology. Following a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology (University of Edinburgh), and a brief period as a field archaeologist, I undertook a PhD (University of Newcastle) researching the history of Greek settlement in southern Italy. My subsequent career has been devoted to the study of ancient Italy and Sicily, with a specific focus on the development of ethnic and cultural identities, and the formation of urban societies. I have held posts at several UK universities, including research fellowships at UCL, a lectureship at the University of Newcastle, and I am currently a part-time lecturer and Honorary Fellow at the University of Durham.


I wrote...

The Rise of Rome: From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars

By Kathryn Lomas,

Book cover of The Rise of Rome: From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars

What is my book about?

In the late Iron Age, Rome was a small collection of huts arranged over a few hills. By the third century BC, it had become a large and powerful city, with monumental temples, public buildings, and grand houses. It had conquered the whole of Italy and was poised to establish an empire. But how did it accomplish this historic transformation?

This book explores the development of Rome during this period, and the nature of its control over Italy, considering why and how the Romans achieved this spectacular dominance. For Rome was only one of a number of emerging centres of power during this period. From its complex forms of government to its innovative connections with other states, Kathryn Lomas shows what set Rome apart. Examining the context and impact of the city's dominance, as well as the key political, social, and economic changes it engendered, this is crucial reading for anyone interested in Ancient Rome.

The Greek Myths

By Robert Graves,

Book cover of The Greek Myths

Whilst there have been hundreds of books published about Greek myths, for me this is the one that appeals to my peculiar nature the most. Although the work has been heavily criticised by many academics, what I like is that Graves combines scholarly detail with the skill and imagination of the poet. Hence the characters are made to live and breathe again, as if the stories had been first recorded last month rather than thousands of years ago.  


Who am I?

I have been fascinated by ancient sacred sites since I first visited the ancient Rollright Stones on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border decades ago. I am interested in how the study of folklore and local traditions can be used in conjunction with archaeology to trace the origins and purposes of ancient monuments. I am an author and researcher who has had seven books published on the subjects of ancient civilizations, prehistoric monuments, and supernatural folklore. Born in Birmingham, England, I am a qualified archaeologist with a BA in European Archaeology from the University of Nottingham, and an MPhil in Greek Archaeology from Birmingham University.


I wrote...

Haunted Spaces, Sacred Places: A Field Guide to Stone Circles, Crop Circles, Ancient Tombs, and Supernatural Landscapes

By Brian Haughton,

Book cover of Haunted Spaces, Sacred Places: A Field Guide to Stone Circles, Crop Circles, Ancient Tombs, and Supernatural Landscapes

What is my book about?

Examines the megaliths of Britain and Ireland, the tombs of the Etruscans, the ancient Native American city of Cahokia, and other legendary and mysterious places around the world, with a review of the myth, lore, and paranormal phenomena for which they are known.

The King Must Die

By Mary Renault,

Book cover of The King Must Die

I’ve been interested in Greek myths since I was tiny, and in Greece since my first holiday there. (I go back almost every year and try to speak Greek to the locals) Mary Renault brings the legend of the Minotaur to life and turns the legendary characters into very real people, with very human flaws. I first read this book long before I visited Crete and when I eventually got to the ruins of Knossos it all unspooled in my head like a private movie. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read The King Must Die now – I've even had to buy a new copy, because I’ve worn the first one out. 


Who am I?

I hoovered up fairytales when I was small, and when I learned to read on my own, I moved on to myths: British, Norse, Greek, Celtic... the Mabinogion, Edda, Ragnarok, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, you name it, I devoured it. From there it was a short hop for a voracious reader to fantasy fiction based on myths and when I began to write, that became a theme in my fiction. My first couple of books were influenced by Susan Cooper’s writing, and The Keepers’ Daughter draws on the Atlantis legend. Myths last for a reason: they may not be real, but at some level, they’re true.... 


I wrote...

The Keepers' Daughter

By Gill Arbuthnott,

Book cover of The Keepers' Daughter

What is my book about?

Orphaned as a baby, Nyssa has no idea where she comes from or who she really is, but she is haunted by dreams of someone else’s life. The arrival of threatening strangers on the quiet island where she lives brings danger, even as it reveals hints of her lost past. 

Nyssa has a hidden tattoo that carries half of a secret message. Now she must journey to the drowned city of Thira to find the other half, written on the twin she’s never known, and discover the truth behind the words that mark them. 

New book lists related to Etruscan civilization

All book lists related to Etruscan civilization

Bookshelves related to Etruscan civilization