The Etruscans are thought to have arrived in northern Italy sometime before the end of the eighth century before the present era. In Etruria, between the rivers Arno and Tiber, are found vaulted structures erected by the Etruscans: they are of the type known as “false vaulting.” O. W. von Vacano in his Etruscans in the Ancient World (1960) comments with wondering:

. . .The Mycenaean corridor design and tholos [circular domed tomb] structures are related to the vaulted buildings which make their appearance in the orientalizing period in Etruria—and here it is even more difficult to solve, even though the connection itself is undisputed.1
The Etruscan vaulted chambers impress one by their similarity to Mycenaean architecture. Other Etruscan structures of the seventh-sixth centuries also show such similarity.
The remains of the city walls of Populonia, Vetulonia and Rusellae, consisting of huge stone blocks which have a ‘Mycenaean’ look, do not date further back than the end of the sixth century B.C.: their gateways may well have had arches rounded like the entrance doors to the Grotta Campana, on the outskirts of Veii, which dates from the second half of the seventh century B.C., and is one of the earliest painted chamber-tombs of Etruria.2
A dilemma no less serious is posed by a vase fashioned by a Greek master who signed it with his name, Aristonothos (fig. ); between -675 and -650 he studied in Athens, then migrated to Syracuse (Sicily) and later to Etruria (Tuscany). The vase was found at Cerveteri, in southern Etruria. “There is an obvious link between the design of the Aristonothos crater and another earthenware vessel, scarcely less often discussed and more than five hundred years older, the vase known from the principal figure decorating it as ‘the Warrior Vase of Mycenae.’”3

It becomes ever clearer that the end of the Mycenaean Age, put at ca. -1200, is placed so not by a true verdict.


  1. Von Vacano, The Etruscans in the Ancient World, p. 81. [After the monuments of Mycenae and Tiryns received, on the basis of Egyptian chronology, dates in the second millennium, some scholars attempted to age the Etruscan tombs by five hundred years to make them contemporary with their Mycenaean conterparts: so “striking” was the similarity, so “evident” the relation of the two architectural styles, that if the Mycenaean tombs belong in the second millennium, one expert argued, the ones found in Etruria “are probably not of inferior antiquity.” (G. Dennis, The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria [London, 1878], vol. I, p. 265, n.2; cf. p. 368, n. 6.) But what of the contents of the tombs, which invariably consisted of Etruscan products of the eighth century and later? The surmise that this situation reflected “a reappropriation of a very ancient sepulchre” (Dennis, op. cit., p. 154) was unanimously rejected by experts (e.g., A. Mosso, The Dawn of Mediterranean Civilization [New York, 1911], p. 393). There was no reason to suppose that the tombs had been built by anyone but the people who used them; and these people first arrived on the scene in the middle of the eighth century. The relation of these eighth-century tombs to the five-hundred-years-earlier structures of Mycenean Greece has remained a puzzle. The Dawn of Mediterranean Civilization (New York, 1911) pp. 392-93; A. N. Modona, A Guide to Etruscan Antiquities (Florence, 1954), p. 92; S. von Cles-Reden, The Buried People: A Study of the Etruscan World, transl. by C. M. Woodhouse (New York, 1955), p. 180; A. Boethius and J. B. Ward-Perkins, Etruscan and Roman Architecture (Baltimore, 1970) p. 78 and pl. 47. The oldest is the Grotta Regolini Galassi, dated to ca. B.C.]

  2. Ibid., p. 82; cf. Cles-Reden, The Buried People, p. 122. [Numerous other Etruscan cultural traits reflect Mycenaean models, something that would be not unexpected if, as the revised timetable postulates, the two cultures were contemporary, yet most difficult to account for if, as the conventional scheme requires, five hundred years of darkness intervened. (a) Columns. The types of columns used in Etruscan buildings derive from columns of Knossos and Mycenae, and have nothing in common with the Doric columns of seventh and sixth-century Greece.(S. von Cles-Redden, The Buried People: A Study of the Etruscan World, transl. by C. M. Woodhouse [New York, 1955], p. 35.) But it is presumed that no Mycenaean or Minoan structures were left standing in Etruscan times. Where, then, did the Etruscans find the models for their wooden columns? (b) Frescoes. The famous Etruscan frescoes, such as those that decorate the tombs near Veii, display an “obvious reminiscence of Crete”—however not of Crete of the Dark Ages, but rather of Minoan Crete (von Cles-Redden, op. cit., p. 143). But had not the Cretan palaces with their frescoes been destroyed many centuries earlier? (c) Burials. The sepulchral slabs used in some Etruscan tombs, especially those bearing reliefs of men and animals, resemble those found by Schliemann at Mycenae (Dennis, op. cit., p. lxix, n. 9). Also Etruscan burial customs appear to be derived from Mycenaean models (S. von Cles-Redden, op. cit., p. 150.)]

  3. Von Vacano, The Etruscans in the Ancient World, p. 81. See I. M. Isaacson, “Applying the Revised Chronology,” Pensée IX (1974), p.p. 5ff.