The cultural and political landscape of the Ager Caletranus, North-West of Vulci

Perkins, Phil (2010). The cultural and political landscape of the Ager Caletranus, North-West of Vulci. In: Fontaine, P. ed. L'Etrurie et l'ombrie avant Rome: Cité et Territoire. Institut Historique Belge de Rome Artes (1). Brussels, Belgium / Romr, Italy: Institut Historique Belge de Rome, pp. 103–121.



This paper will discuss both the definition and the extent of the North-Western boundaries of the territory of Vulci. The particular focus will be an examination of the cultural and political status of the Albegna Valley in conjunction with a study of the history of urbanization and territorial organization of the area.

Since 1970’s it has been commonly assumed that the Albegna Valley was a part of the ‘territory of Vulci.’ Some have even suggested that that the area was colonized by Vulci in the 6th century after a military conquest. Almost needless to say, these are theories rather than historical facts, and furthermore they are theories which developed before the mapping of the extremely large city in the lower Valley at Doganella, and the field survey of the entire region during the 1980’s and publication of field work and analysis during the 1990’s. The time is then ripe for a reassessment of these notions, not because they are outdated, or necessarily proven invalid, but because the issues of what constituted an Etruscan city territory and how it relates to urbanization remain of fundamental importance to Etruscan studies. New evidence can be brought to old theories to provide further interpretation.

The area of this case study provides an important opportunity to investigate a key phase of urbanization in central Italy. Research over the past 30 years has not yet found evidence for the deep roots of urban settlement which have been found at other sites, notably Vulci and Tarquinia. In the Albegna Valley urbanism appears to be a feature of the later seventh and sixth centuries without direct ‘Villanovan’ roots. The implications and potential explanations of this observation will be explored with reference to the form that urbanism took in the Valley.
Urbanism is demonstrably linked to the occupation, organization and exploitation of the territory of the Albegna Valley. This paper will explore development of the settlement pattern and the organization of territory around Vulci and the Albegna Valley. It will also investigate different criteria for defining territories and boundaries between Etruscan cities using archaeological, geographical and historical techniques. The combination of territorial and urban analysis will form the basis for the study of the development of the political landscape in the Albegna Valley, known to the Romans as the Ager Caletranus.

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