Review: The Mysterious Etruscans, Steven L. Tuck

Rating: 3 out of 5

I found this an enlightening series, mostly based on the fact that everyone knows so little about the Etruscans. I mostly knew–beforehand–about the voluminous work by Claudius which is lost to us and some minor facts: Mr Tuck’s thorough review was definitely a good pointer on this civilisation.

However, the structure of this work was something I cannot get behind. I am in favour of explaining every topic thoroughly once and not jumping between these at random — I would have very much appreciated the final comments on the Etruscan peoples’ origins in the beginning where their lands and other stories were treated. In my book, this half-hearted treatment of every topic also means that the observer cannot get a thorough understanding. Piecing together five or six facts instead of providing these as a narrative does not help comprehension.

I was also undone a bit by the author’s (understandable) need to continuously fault the Romans, and one of the chapters which essentially had us walk through Rome, removing items which were of mildly Etruscan origin. It is my belief that an ingenious people can discover things on their own, so the Romans could have well thought of roads without the Etruscans (as somehow the Persians also managed).

Overall, however, if the author’s feelings on these topics can be ignored, this story gives a pretty decent overview of old Etruria even if some questions do not get answered as well as one could hope.

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