Villanovan culture

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Villanovan culture,

the culture of a people of N Italy in the early Iron Age (c.1100–700 B.C.). The term is derived from the town of Villanova, near Bologna, where the first excavations of a Villanovan cemetery were conducted (1853–55). The Villanovans are believed to have come into Italy from Central Europe, the third of a wave of Central European-Danubian invasions. The Villanovans brought with them a reasonably advanced Iron Age culture, closely related to the Hallstatt culture of the E Alps. They lived over a large part of central Italy, including Etruria, Latium, and the region around Bologna. The Villanovans cremated their dead and buried the ashes in urns. The Villanovans were followed by the Etruscans (see Etruscan civilizationEtruscan civilization,
highest civilization in Italy before the rise of Rome. The core of the territory of the Etruscans, known as Etruria to the Latins, was northwest of the Tiber River, now in modern Tuscany and part of Umbria.
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See D. Randall-MacIver, Villanovans and Early Etruscans (1924); H. J. Rose, Primitive Culture in Italy (1926, repr. 1971); L. Barfield, Northern Italy before Rome (1971).

Villanovan Culture


an archaeological culture of the early Iron Age in northern Italy (900-500 B.C.).

The Villanovan culture was named for the settlement of Villanova, near Bologna, where in 1853-55 burials characteristic of the Villanovan culture were discovered; these were well-like tombs with crematoria. The urns for the ashes have the appearance of two truncated cones with geometric ornamentation. Four periods are distinguished in Villanovan culture, through which may be traced the gradual perfection in the technique of making bronze articles and the increased use of iron. The social structure of the tribes belonging to the Villanovan culture was characterized by a decay in tribal relations, considerable property differentiation, and the presence of patriarchal slavery. The question of the bearers of the Villanovan culture has not yet been finally resolved. It is supposed that they were Umbrians.


Modestov, V. I. Vvedenie v rimskuiu istoriiu, part 1. St. Petersburg, 1902.
Randall-Maclver, D. Villanovans and Early Etruscans. Oxford, 1924.
Åberg, N. Bronzezeitliche und friiheisenzeitliche Chronologic, vols. 1-5. Stockholm, 193O-35.
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