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CLA231: Introduction to Roman History
Lecture 1: Introduction + Italy before Rome
Wednesday September 12th, 12
Iron Age Italy: Italic People
Different groups fill the population and the period from the end of the 9th to the beginning of the 8th century
BC. There are two groups: the venetians that will have some settlement in Sicily, the Carthaginian will
colonize in the south of Italy and the Greeks will also populate Southern Italy as well. The Greeks will arrive
around the 8th century and settle along the coast of Sicily in the north and south. They will later have some
contact with the people of Rome. The people of Greece will cause a huge difference in the Roman society.
Roman Worldview of Extension of Empire over Western Europe and Northern Africa when it was at its
The position of Italy is located in the Mediterranean world. It is a peninsula surrounded by the
Mediterranean Sea. Italy is accessible from three sides by sea, which will be a positive and a negative in
terms of trade and migration. Italy will not have the culture it’s had through the middle Ages.
770 & 750: Euboean trading post on the island of Pithecusaewhich is important to Roman historians
because this is the time where evidence is found for the birth of the city of Rome.
In 753 BC is the traditional date of Rome’s founding by Romulus, the first king of Rome.
- The creation of the Greek alphabet in 750 BC is important because this is when the Romans take from the
Greek alphabet to make one of their own.
- In 750 BC the Carthage will become the archenemy of the Romans, in other words considered to be the
Venetians. The Phoenicians founded the Carthage.
- In 730- 720 BC marks the start of the Greek colonization in southern Italy and Sicily. New technology allows
new reorganization for people to migrate to Italy in terms of religious being and architecture.
509 BC is the traditional date for the founding of the Republic after the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus,
the last king of Rome. In other words can be considered the Roman republic, when government changes
from kingship to a Republic (not what we consider in the modern world)
Peoples of Early Italy
A series of very important rivers:
1) Po River, which runs from northern Italy below the Alps. It is a huge area that is extremely fertile. Today,
we can modern cities. The land is flat which is perfect for agriculture. This river is also navigable, for
merchants to bring their goods, trade and travel.
2) Arno River is a place that was divided by the Etruscans. The river Arno is flowing through the city of Pisa,
and Florence.
3) Tiber River, which is a very big that goes deep inside central Italy and flowing through Rome into the
Eastern Sea
The island of Pithecuase (which means the island of the monkeys)
- a tiny island that is not very interesting, but it was a place of trade and settlement
- it is along the coast close to Naples

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Map of Italy around 256BC
The Cities:
1) Cumae, which is Greek of the Etruscan Sea and along the harbor
2) Neapolis, which come straight from Naples (which in English means Blue Sea)
3) Tarentum is located in modern day Calabria
4) Rehgium, which is a harbor city that provided a best connection into the city
5) Messana that faces the city of Rehgium
6) Syracruse, which will become one of the most important cities in Italy and Sicily
7) Carthage is located in modern day Africa
Roman World View of extension of empire over western Europe and Northern Africa
- times of communication and times of movement
- the ability to access the coasts
o it is a plus because people are going to bring stuff to trade and settle
o but the negative is that if people come with war like intensions it would be an issue for how open
that land is to the Sea
Peoples of Early Italy
- connections and communications with peoples of goods like useful activity for goods, but can
also be a problem for war like intensions.
- By using the Tiber river you can literally cross from East to West being able to use rivers and
harbors, military by sea is good because it is easily assessable but for those with bad intensions
the land must be protected for how open it is
Map of Italy
- Italy is protected on the Northern side because of the Alps (which are 4000 meters high) which
stretches to Pineto
- Technically, in the wintertime the Alps are impassable. In the end of the 3rd c. BC we will have
evidence that they are passable but it is still quite difficult (based on the travel of a group of
men). Usually for traders or merchants that are using on foot will not cross the Alps during the
wintertime because it is too life risking and the danger of losing your goods.
- The area of the modern day Genoa, to the foot of the Italian peninsula sits another set of
mountains that block away danger
Peoples of Early Italy
- the conditions of the group of people was fairly advanced inside the peninsula, because their
language (Non Indo-European language)
- the other part of the population of the Indo-European speakers
- the Etruscans were mainly leaving around 1000c BC which is now Tuscany. It is a very safe area,
good land for agriculture. In the land you can find mines, lead, zinc and copper. Because there is
a little small island called Elba, which produced Iron for weaponry. People were able to settle on
Elba for production of weaponry, tools and trade specifically in metal.

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Site of Ancient Rome (753 BC)
Along the river Tiber is Rome, which is inland. Rome is only connected to the sea through the Tiber
River, which is a positive because it will be harder to attack. Rome will be harder to access at night
during the time of war. At some point they will create a harbor at the time of the foundation.
Italy is also protected by several hills: Capitoline, Palatine, Esquiline, Caelian, Aventine, Quirinal, and
Viminal. During the time of war, it was easier for soldiers to stand at the top of the hills and attack
down to their attackers. Salt is a huge resource around the Tiber River along the marches. Salt
became a huge necessity in trade that could be exploited and could also explain why people settled
in Rome.
People of Early Italy
- an important line of communication (the Tiber River), where the first wooden bridge will also be
built, and a port, this opens the accessibility to the city across from Rome
Roman world view of empire over Western Europe and northern Africa
The Indo Europeans are group of people speaking their own language and settled massively around
parts of Eurpean around 1300BC. They migrated from north of Indian, most likely because they
were looking for better places to live. They would have moved across Asia and into the Italian
penisula. These Indo Europeans will be the first settlers of Italy. They were moving with the kind of
animals they had, and the groups. At some point they would have to stop and this resulted in their
place of settlement. The political system was based on the king, who had a council of rich members
of society. The origin was based around a male god, which later influenced the religion of the
Greeks, Etruscans, and the Italians. Once settled, the different groups will keep these kinds of
aspects. Finally, they use cremation to burn the dead. They use the ashes inside a pot during the
ceremony and bury it underground.
Before the 8th century the Veneti wills more to the northeast and the Gauls to the north, the Latin’s
to the west coast of central Italy.
A different group of Italians called the Umbro- Sabellians, a term, which encompasses several
different tribes dwelling to the northeast, east, and southeast of Rome.
The Venetians and the Greek traders will influence the civilizations through the Etruscans and other
populations will discover through direct contacts the civilization of Greece.
The Greeks will modify the Venetian alphabet by introducing vowels. This will later influence the
Roman people who will adopt the Greek alphabet and later modify it to their own alphabet.
The Caere
What we can see is a round structure, which is a tomb, that consists of some larger than others.
Technically what you have is a construction of local materials called Tufa. You build a cylonder and
inside it you will have a corridor with several rooms. What they do is move some stones ontop
where bodies will be put. Ontop of that will be a roof, and later grass and bushes. This is what they
use for their tomb.
When looking on the inside of the tomb, or the entrance of the stone structure you can see the
layering of the tomb. When entering inside the tomb you can see how they were divided into
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