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Any member of an ancient people of Etruria, whose urban civilization reached its height in the 6th century BC. Their origins are obscure. By the 7th century they had incorporated all of Tuscany into their territory, and in the 6th century they pushed north to the Po River valley and became rulers of Rome. The Etruscans gave the city its first public works, including walls and a sewer system. By the end of the 6th century, pressure from other peoples in the region, including Greeks, Romans, and Gauls, weakened Etruria. The Romans expelled their dynasty in 509 BC. The Etruscans had a commercial and agricultural civilization and left a rich cultural heritage, including wall frescoes and realistic tomb portraits. Many features of their culture were adopted by the Romans. See alsoEtruscan language; Etruscan religion.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Etruscan, visit Britannica.com.