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216 × 138 mm
216 pages
56 illustrations, 47 in colour
01 Oct 2017
Lost Civilizations

The Etruscans Lost Civilizations Lucy Shipley

The Etruscans were a powerful and influential civilization in ancient Italy. But despite their prominence, they are often misrepresented as mysterious – a strange, unknowable people whose language and culture have largely vanished. Lucy Shipley’s new history of the Etruscans presents a different picture: of a people who traded with Greece and shaped the development of Rome, who inspired Renaissance artists and Romantic firebrands and whose influence is still felt strongly in the modern world. Covering colonialism and conquest, misogyny and mystique, Etruscan history is woven with the very latest archaeological evidence to provide a unique perspective on this enigmatic culture, revealing how much we now know, and how much still remains undiscovered.

The book explores Etruscan culture through a series of stories that also reveal the biases and prejudices of the present day. It describes the journey of Etruscan objects from the point of their creation through the story of their use, loss, rediscovery and reinvention. From the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy displayed in a fashionable salon to the extra-curricular activities of a member of the Bonaparte family, it takes us on an extraordinary voyage through Etruscan archaeology that leads to surprising and intriguing places.

‘cleverly written, because each chapter deals with one problem and then takes one object or place as an example of that problem . . . This is a splendid little book, which brings the Etruscans up to date and does much to strip away the mystery that surrounds this lost civilization.’ – Current World Archaeology

‘Shipley sets her course by identifying a select object or place as a focus for each chapter . . . These prompt an examination of different aspects of the Etruscan world. It is a neat device enabling the author to guide us through what has actually been discovered, what the objects may say about the Etruscans, and to make robust examinations of a range of theories about them that have been put forward over time . . . Shipley’s book is as engaging as her subject. Her work leaves us eager to discover more about this most fascinating group of people.’ – Minerva

‘Shipley’s [bridges deftly the ancient evidence and modern debates, and to shift focus seamlessly from the big picture to captivating details. She writes in an engaging, breezy style . . . Shipley’s book accomplishes its mission with aplomb: it will not only hold the interest of students and scholars alike, but also speak in powerful ways to the interested lay reader. Indeed, if there is one book among the recent spate of works on the Etruscans that is likely to win over the popular imagination – one as alive to their distinct character and accomplishments as their lost legacy and muddled afterlives – Lucy Shipley’s book is surely it. For The Etruscans demonstrates that new facts can be more interesting than old fiction.’ – The Classical Journal

‘This book excels on a number of levels. Shipley goes beyond the pure material legacies to look at the cultural impact of the Etruscans in the modern age. Here, the book has a wonderful range, from Shakespeare and Boccaccio, to their appropriation by Mussolini’s nationalists, the Bonapartes, the Church Fathers, D.H. Lawrence (for whom they were an emblem of erotic liberation), and the 1976 film The Omen. This is likely to engage contemporary readers, as are the frequent analogies Shipley draws between her subject and contemporary politics. On top of this, Shipley is an evocative writer of place, and her ability to describe the sites such as the city of Marzabotto or the Pianacce necropolis in the landscape not only places the Etruscans in their physical context, but also makes the book a pleasure to read. It is also beautifully illustrated, with dozens of colour pictures of sites and artefacts. For those who want to see the Etruscans as being more than a mere mystery, this is an excellent place to start.’ – Classics For All

‘Shipley’s concise and elegant prose serves as an ideal complement to her fascinating subject. The people of this remarkable and enigmatic culture come alive in a brilliant treatment appropriate for any audience.’ – Anthony Tuck, Director, Poggio Civitate Excavations and University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Lucy Shipley is the author of Experiencing Etruscan Pots: Ceramics, Bodies and Images in Etruria (2015). She lives in Devon, UK.