The Apennine Peninsula is shaped like a boot that juts deep into the Mediterranean Sea. Its geological continuation is the island of Sicily, separated from Italy by the three-kilometer Strait of Messina, To the north of Sicily are scattered small Liparian (Aeolian) islets. Along the western coast of Italy there are large-Sardinia and Corsica, and closer to the coast — small Ylva (Elba) and Capreia (Capri) islands. Around all of them, the waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea splash, from the south, Italy is washed by the Ionian Sea, and from the east — by the Adriatic Sea. The abundance of islands and the rugged nature of the Tyrrhenian and southern coasts of Italy contributed to the development of navigation here. The coastline in the east either drops off abruptly into the sea, or is full of shoals and inconvenient for navigation. From the north, the powerful Alps loom over Italy, and in the center along the peninsula stretch the low, but young Apennine Mountains with the active volcano Vesuvius, the Sicilian Etna and their Liparian counterpart.
In terms of area, Italy is much larger than Greece, and it has more lowlands and valleys suitable for agriculture.
However, only Etruria with its red earth, Campania and partly Latium with loose, volcanic soil, as well as Apulia with black earth, differ in natural fertility.
Italy is richer than Greece in water resources. The largest waterway is the Padus, which the Greeks called Eridanus. Branching into branches, it flows into the Adriatic. The tributaries of the Padus on the left-the Ticinus, the Greater and Lesser Duria, and on the right-the Trebia and Parma, are navigable. In the basin of this river there are many juicy pastures. Other rivers — the Rubicon, the Metaurus, and the Aufid-also carry their waters to Apriatica. The Arno, the Tiber, the Liris, and the Volturne flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea. When the snow melts in the Apennines, even small rivers flood widely, swamping the area. The Tuscan (to the north) and Pomptine (to the south of the mouth of the Tiber) marshes were considered difficult to pass in ancient times.
There are many lakes in Italy:
Until the middle of the first millennium BC, the climate of Italy was cooler and wetter, so that the northern part of it lay in a temperate zone, and the rest — a subtropical mild climate. Snow was rare in the south. In ancient times, the country was rich in vegetation, the Alps above 1700 m were covered with coniferous trees-pine, fir, spruce. Below them were broad-leaved beeches, oaks, and noble chestnuts. In Central Italy, they mixed with evergreen pines, cypresses, oleanders, on the slopes of the Apennines and in the hilly plains grew laurels, myrtle.
To the south, only evergreens rustled. Since ancient times, pears, apples, and grapes have been produced in Italy, and in the south — olive trees, pomegranates, and almonds. Spelt, wheat, and barley were cultivated from cereals. The Italians grew flax, legumes, and vegetable crops. Forests and groves thickly covered the country. This is indicated by the names of some places — the Tsimin forest in Etruria, Viminal (from vimen — willow vine) — a hill in Rome, etc. In the forests there were wolves, bears, wild boars, hares, on the mountain slopes — chamois, gazelles. Very early on, sheep, pigs, and oxen were tamed, becoming the main sacrificial animals. According to one version, Italy got its name from “vitulus” — bull, bull, from another version of the word “bull” (bos, vis) is the name of the city of Bovian. The seas were rich in fish and shellfish. Purple was obtained from the shells extracted in the Gulf of Tarentum. There were few minerals, but they were important: iron, copper and tin on the island of Ylva, in Southern Etruria and in Bruttia, slate in Etruria, silver in Bruttia, gold in the Alps, building stone and marble in the Apennines. The riches were salt and clay, the best in Campania.
Italy has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era. This is evidenced by the finds of stone tools and horns in the Romanelli grotto in the south of the peninsula, Neanderthal skulls in Latium, caves with paintings of the Ancient Stone Age in Liguria. People were then engaged in gathering, hunting and fishing.
Neolithic monuments have been found everywhere in Italy and on the islands. At this time, people no longer lived only in caves, but began to build huts, often of the type of semi-earthlings, their occupation became agriculture and cattle breeding.
Since the third millennium BC, along with stone, copper began to be used and ceramic dishes were made. During this period of the Chalcolithic, or Eneolithic, relations developed with Balkan Greece and with Spain.
In the second millennium, the inhabitants of Italy already knew bronze. It was used to make weapons, but mainly jewelry. In Northern Italy, pile settlements were built along the shores of lakes and rivers, as well as on the water. Near them, hills were found with the remains of tools, utensils, and food. From the piles of garbage mixed with the ground, this culture was called the Terramar culture (ital. terra marna — fat land). The Terramarans used bronze axes, spears, and awls. The findings of wheat and beans, as well as the image of the plow on the Alpine rocks, show the development of agriculture, and the findings of bones of cattle and pigs — about cattle breeding.
The inhabitants of Terramar burned their dead and buried their ashes in clay urns. Necropolises were located near the villages. Funeral offerings are monotonous and poor in accordance with the property and social equality of the era of the tribal system. In Central and Southern Italy, parallel to the Terramar culture, another Bronze culture developed, the Apennine, closely related to the Aegeida. The influence of the Aegean world can be traced in the drainage structures, the distribution of painted ceramics of the Mycenaean type, the design of religious cults. The bearers of the Apennine culture practiced the funeral rite of corpse-laying. Along with the Apennines, the Mycenaean Greeks settled in the coastal areas of Southern Italy and the islands. A peculiar culture of the Bronze Age has developed in Sardinia. Near the villages, the so-called nuraghs, built of rough stones, rise out of huts. These are towers built on a round stone base with rare narrow slits-windows, with an intricate system of rooms located on different levels and connected by narrow stone stairs. The purpose of the nuraghs is not clear. They could serve sacred purposes and as a refuge for the ancient Sardis in case of military attacks.
At the end of the II — beginning of the I millennium BC, Italy entered the Iron Age, represented by different cultural variants. In the middle of the XIX century, near Bologna, in the town of Villanova, burial grounds with cremations were opened. The ashes of those burned were placed in biconic urns. The burial inventory consisted of pottery, bronze utensils, fibulas and razors, iron tools, weapons, and remnants of horse harness. According to this variant, the Villanova culture of the early Iron Age is called in a number of other places — in Southern Etruria, the Alban Mountains and in Rome itself. For them, in particular, along with the biconic urns, the urn in the form of huts is characteristic. In the north-west of Italy, a variety of early iron culture was the Golasecca culture, in the north-east in the Veneti region-the Este culture, in Bruggia-the Toppe Galli culture. The intensity of their development was different. The coastal areas progressed faster, especially those located near the iron deposits.
The use of iron tools raised the level of the economy. An iron axe and a plow with an iron ploughshare allowed the expansion of arable land and meadows, which had a beneficial effect on agriculture and cattle breeding. The growth of production led to the development of exchange. Products made of Baltic amber were found in Etruria and Umbria. In the visual arts of Etruria, there are images of Greek mythology that penetrated into Italy together with merchants, as well as scarabs from Naucratis, in Latium — Greek vases and jewelry made of precious metals.
The settlements of this time gradually turned into cities. The legends speak of a union of 30 Latin cities led by Alba Longa. Their population is already divided by property boundaries. This is indicated by burials with rich and poor inventory. Family ties are torn. In the necropolises of Bologna, Veii and others, ritual burials of slaves were found, in Este, a bronze vessel with the image of captives with bound hands and warriors was found. This is the oldest depiction of slaves in Italy.
Ancient tradition calls the oldest population of the Apennine Peninsula ligurians or lines that also lived on the territory of the Iberian Peninsula and France. Modern scientists consider the Ligurians to be the carriers of the Neolithic culture. The remnants of the Ligurian language are insignificant, which makes it difficult to determine the ethnolinguistic affiliation of this people. Some refer it, along with the courses in Corsica, Sardis in Sardinia and Scans in Sicily, to the so-called Mediterranean, while others recognize the Ligurian language as Indo-European. During the Iron Age, the Ligurs were pushed back by other tribes to the northwestern regions of Italy, where they long maintained their identity and primitive forms of life.
Since the beginning of the second millennium BC, the bulk of the Italian population was made up of tribes who spoke Indo-European languages. Among them, Italians are distinguished, which fell into two groups:
Italians are an alien people. There is no consensus in science about the time and ways of their penetration into Italy.
In the 19th century, a theory was put forward that the Italians came from the north through the Alpine passes. Later, the opinion was confirmed about their arrival in two waves:
Since the proximity of early metal cultures was noticed among the tribes of the Danube basin, the Southern Russian steppes, the Balkan and Apennine peninsulas, it was concluded that the Italians came from the Danube area. Since the middle of the XX century, researchers have been inclined to the hypothesis that Italians came to the Apennine Peninsula by sea from across the Adriatic and were not the first carriers of the metal culture in Italy.
In addition to the Italians, other Indo — Europeans-Pelasgians, Illyrians and Greeks-settled in Italy at the beginning of the first millennium BC. This was the second, already massive Greek wave. After pushing back the Illyrians-the Iapigians and Italians-the Greeks established colonies in Campania, Southern Italy, and Eastern Sicily.
In the middle of the first millennium BC, the Celts, or Gauls, who descended through the passes in the Alps from the upper Danube valley, settled in the Padan Plain.
Since the IX century BC, the Phoenicians began to penetrate into Sardinia. In the VI century BC, the Phoenician colonization covered the west of Sicily, Punic trading posts began to appear on the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy.
At the turn of the VIII—VII centuries, Etruscans, or Tusks, were recorded in Italy. This was the name given to this people by the Romans, while the Greeks called them the Tyrrhenians, or Tirsennes. The self-designation of the Etruscans was raseni. Many monuments of material culture have been preserved from them. These are the remains of cities, extensive necropolises, individual buildings, utensils, works of fine art and about 11,000 inscriptions. The Etruscan alphabet has local variants. According to most scholars, it is derived from Western Greek, so the inscriptions are easy to read, but only a little is clear in them. The language of the Etruscans and their origin are at the heart of a great scientific problem. Some Etruscologists consider the Etruscan language to be a remnant of the pre-Indo-European languages of the ancient population of the Mediterranean and Near Asia, in particular the North Caucasus. Others classify Etruscan as an Indo-European language and see it as close to Pelasgian or Hittite. Many define Etruscan as a mixed language that includes different linguistic components.
Theories of the origin of the Etruscans are also different. Since the XVII century, the opinion about their Eastern origin prevailed in science. In Russia at the beginning of the XX century. it was followed by V. I. Modestov. This theory was based on Herodotus ‘ account of the arrival of the Tyrrhenians from Lydia and on Eastern motifs in their culture. In the XVIII century, some scientists, identifying the ethnonyms of the Rasenes and the Rets who lived in the Alps, declared the Etruscans to be northern newcomers. This was supported in the XIX century by Niebuhr and Mommsen, and in the XX century by German researchers who attached special importance to the Nordic peoples in history. At present, the northern theory has come to naught. In the XIX — early XX centuries, Italian historians defended the theory of autochthonous Etruscans. It was based on the testimony of Dionysius of Halicarnassus. But in modern science, M. Pallottino’s idea that the Etruscans did not come from nowhere in a “ready — made” form, but formed as an ethnic group in Italy from heterogeneous elements — local, as well as newcomers, including from the Aegean-the Balkans and Asia Minor, began to prevail. And this is quite consistent with the nature of their complex language and culture.
The ethnic map of Italy in the middle of the first millennium BC is extremely colorful, but it already shows the tribal territories. On the slopes of the Alps and Apennines, as well as in the north-west, lived the Ligurs, who gave the name of the region and the gulf of the Tyrrhenian Sea. In the valley of Padus from the V century BC settled the Celts, whom the Romans called the Gauls, from where this area was called Gaul Cisalpine (i.e. on this side of the Alps). In Central Italy, the Etruscan — populated region of Etruria, occupied by the Umbrians — Umbria, and the Picenae-Pitsen, stood out. The Latins settled in Latium, and it was surrounded by the lands of the Sabines, Equi, Guernici, and Volsci, who spoke the Italian languages. Samnium was settled by the Oscan tribes of the Samnites and their close Sabellians (Marsi, Marrucins). The population of Campania was descended from a mixture of the Osci with the Avzones, or Avrunci, related to the Latins. In the southern regions, Lucania and Bruttia, the population consisted of tribes of Oscan origin, and in Apulia and Calabria —mainly of Iapigs of Illyrian origin. The bulk of the Sicilian population belonged to the Siculi, who were close in language to the Latins, and to the more ancient Sicans, who were classified as Mediterranean. Among the Italians in the center and south of the Apennine Peninsula and on the islands, a significant place was occupied by the Greeks.
The tribes and peoples of Italy were at different stages of socio-economic, political and cultural development. As a result of the Roman conquest, Italy was Romanized, and its various ethnic components formed a single Italian nation. The Italians spoke Latin, which gradually replaced other languages and dialects, so that the Etruscan and Ligurian languages were completely forgotten by the first century BC.
In the formation and development of civilization in Italy, the Greeks who colonized Southern Italy and Sicily played an important role.
The first Greek settlements in Sicily, the Lipari Islands, and possibly in Campania date back to the Mycenaean period (the second half of the second millennium), but the development of fertile places reached a special intensity by the time of the so-called Great Greek colonization of the VIII-VI centuries BC.
One of the first Greek colonies in Italy was the city of Cumae, founded by the inhabitants of Euboean Chalcis in Campania around 750 BC; the first colony in Sicily was the city of Naxos (734 BC). At the end of the VIII and VII centuries BC, one after another, settlements were brought out, which densely fill the coastal strip of Italy from Cumae to the south along the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts to Brundisium and all of Sicily. The largest of them, which played a major role in the history of southern Italy, were the cities
Some of these cities has reached such a multitude and prosperity that they themselves, in turn, were able to bring their own colony. So,
Greek cities, as a rule, were located on the sea coast, with a convenient harbor in a fertile area, and from the moment of their foundation they were independent polis with their own administration, their own economic life, political interests, and their own destiny. At the same time, they were in close economic and cultural ties with the mother country, receiving military aid, new shipments of colonists, and handicraft products from there. Colonies usually copied the political system of their mother country, maintained constant cultural contacts. On the other hand, the Greeks, who found themselves far from their native places, had to establish certain relations with the local population.
The southern regions of Italy from the beginning of the first millennium BC were inhabited by the warlike tribes of the Oscans, Lucans, Iapigs and Bruttii, while Sicily was inhabited by the tribes of the Sicans, Elim and Siculi. The nature of the relationship between the Greeks and the local population has changed over time. In the VIII—VII centuries BC. e. Greek colonies and local tribes were in strained relations, coexisted, not yet establishing permanent contacts. However, as the Greek cities strengthen, the Greeks begin to penetrate into the interior, subjugate some local tribes to their economic and cultural influence, which, in turn, begin to adopt Hellenic production skills and forms of life. The well-known stabilization of relations with the local population and its somewhat Hellenization, along with the favorable overall socio-economic and political situation in the Central Mediterranean, contributed to the socio-economic and cultural rise of the cities of Magna Graecia (as they began to call Southern Italy and Sicily inhabited by Greeks), which turned into major political centers of the Mediterranean, playing a significant role in its fate.
Economic growth, population growth and well-being contributed to the social differentiation and formation of the social structure of the polis of Magna Graecia, in many respects similar to their metropolises. It should be noted that the process of socio-economic development was stimulated by constant contacts with the polis of Balkan Greece, in which in the VII—VI centuries BC a fierce struggle with the remnants of tribal institutions was unfolding and the foundations of slave-owning relations were laid.
In the polis of Magna Graecia, based on new places, there could naturally be no strong tribal traditions, strong tribal institutions, nevertheless, the formation of social and class structures took place in the intense internal struggle of various strata. The organization of intensive production, agriculture required workers, which were provided by the growth of the number of slaves, the involvement of the local enslaved or dependent population in labor. The presence in the social structure of the enslaved local population gave social relations in the Greek polis a special character. The free citizens, in turn, belonged to several strata: the aristocracy, descended from the nobility of the mother country, the large landowners, the owners of craft workshops, merchant ships from the enterprising colonists who made up the ruling class.
The bulk of the free citizens, however, worked in small parcels, in craft workshops, were employed in retail trade, and formed a special class of the population.
There was a constant social and political struggle between the aristocracy, the democratically minded free poor, and the enslaved local population. In the course of this struggle, in many Greek colonies in the VIII—VII centuries BC, the rule of the oligarchy was established, representing the interests of the nobility and the new aristocracy. Nevertheless, the oligarchy in power recorded the current legal norms that reflected the requirements of polis democracy. There is evidence of the names of the legislators Zaleucus in Locras and Charondas in Campania, who codified the existing law and whose laws were very strict in protecting the emerging private property. The codification of the current law is an indicator of a fairly high level of socio-political development, the formation of a socially divided society and statehood in the polis of Magna Graecia.
The economic strengthening of the polis has led to an increase in the influence of the democratically-minded strata of the population, to an increase in social tension. As a result of acute social clashes in many cities of Magna Graecia, the oligarchic system is destroyed, and power is seized by tyrants who act as representatives of broad democratic circles. The internal socio-political struggle was complicated by the existence of a constant external threat from the strong Carthage, firmly established in the west of Sicily and claiming the lands of Central Sicily.
Successful leaders of urban militias often led the democratic circles of the population and destroyed the oligarchic regimes. Such coups are known in many cities of Magna Graecia: Syracuse, Akragante, Sybaris, Croton, Tarentum, etc.
The nature of the established tyrannies can be judged by the events in the city of Kuma. In 524 BC, Aristodemus, a prominent citizen popular in Cumae, managed to defeat the Etruscans who were besieging the city and after this victory made a coup d’etat. Supporters of the Cuman oligarchy were killed, their property confiscated and divided among the poor citizens. Aristodemus declared universal equality of citizens, redistributed land, and abolished debts. The slaves who had killed their masters, he set free. Aristodemus reigned for 32 years, and under him the Cumae became so strong that they were able to inflict several defeats on the powerful Etruscans in Latium and gained great political influence.
In the fight against political opponents, the tyrants used the most severe methods of punishment. The tyrant Akraganta Phalaris (VI century BC) became famous for his special cruelty, who placed people in a hot hollow statue of a bronze bull, where the unfortunate found a painful death. However, the tyrannical regimes were short-lived, and they were replaced with the weakness of democratic groups, as a rule, again came the oligarchy.
Of the many polis of Magna Graecia, some acquired great political influence. In the VI century BC, the strongest polis of Sicily were Gela and its colony of Acraganthus (the Romans called this city Agrigentum).
The greatest political power of Gela reached under the tyrants Hippocrates and Gelon (the second half of the VI century BC). Gelon intervened in the internal struggle in Syracuse and under the pretext of helping the Syracusan aristocrats seized power in this large Greek city (485 BC). Transferring power over Gela to his brother Hiero, Gelon became the ruler of Syracuse and pursued a successful foreign policy. He destroyed the neighboring cities of Camarina and Megara, and moved the inhabitants to Syracuse. In alliance with Gela and Acraganthus, Gelon won a very important victory over a large Carthaginian army at Himera in 480 BC. E., which for a long time ensured the predominance of the Greeks over the Carthaginians in Sicily and turned Syracuse into one of the most powerful polis. V-IV centuries BC — a time of economic prosperity and political dominance in Sicily Syracuse.
One of the largest, if not the largest, public entities in Southern Italy was Tarentum. Located in the depths of a vast bay with a beautiful, well-protected harbor, Tarentum had a large and fertile territory, captured from the local tribes of the Messapes. Tarentum is characterized by a complex development of its economy: agriculture, crafts and trade. The Tarentines had made good use of the fertile lands of the surrounding area. The city flourished in grain cultivation, especially the wheat culture; the wide popularity of Tarentine wines is evidence of well-organized viticulture; one of the most important industries was olive farming. Throughout Italy, the Tarentine sheep were famous for producing the highest quality wool. To prevent the sheep from soiling their precious wool, they were even dressed in special blankets. Tarentum was also an important craft center. Here the famous garments were made of wool dyed with purple dye, which was obtained from the shells of the scarlet fish caught in the Gulf of Tarentum. Tarentum had the largest merchant and military fleet in Magna Graecia, could arm 30 thousand soldiers and 3 thousand horsemen. The construction of ships, the production of weapons (swords, spears, helmets, shields, etc.) required many types of crafts. Tarentum was one of the most important trading posts in Southern Italy. A large number of Tarentum coins found in various places on the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, in Eastern Sicily, is evidence of the active trade of Tarentum.
Unlike many of the polis of Magna Graecia, Tarentum had a fairly stable democratic tradition, and democratic rule, which replaced the oligarchic regime of the VII-VI centuries, was maintained with small interruptions until the Roman conquest (III century BC). As in other Greek cities, Tarentum was a place of intense social and political struggle, in the process of which tyrants came to power. The most famous of the Tarentian tyrants was the philosopher Archytas (IV century BC), who patronized crafts and trade, under him Tarentum reached its greatest prosperity. Tarentum was a major cultural center of Southern Italy. The economic prosperity of the city, strong democratic traditions led to an active social life, which contributed to an active cultural life in the city. According to Strabo, there were more holidays in Tarentum than working days. The names of Tarentine writers are known, such as Leonidas, the philosopher Archytos — a supporter of Pythagorean philosophy, a prominent scientist, one of the founders of mechanics. The Tarentine Livy Andronicus is considered one of the founders of Roman literature.
Tarentum played a major political role in Southern Italy. He made an alliance with Rome in 334, under which Rome pledged not to enter the waters of the Gulf of Tarentum. In the struggle with the local tribes, the Tarentines often invited generals from Balkan Greece with their armies to their service, who, after completing the corresponding military campaign, left the city.
The existence of Greek polis in southern Italy and Sicily played a major role in the overall socio-economic and political situation in Italy. Advanced forms of economy, social relations, polis system, civilized way of life contributed to the process of historical development of the local Italian tribes, led to a more rapid decomposition of tribal relations and to the formation of their early class society and state organization.
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