About "Etruscan Life and Afterlife":
Etruscan Life and Afterlife, A Handbook of Etruscan Studies, edited by Larissa Bonfante, is a collection of monographs on Etruscan studies, compiled in 1986, six years before the Etruscan tablet known as the Tabula Cortonensis was brought to the attention of authorities in Italy. This means that the section on language is limited to the vocabulary previously found on such surfaces as mirrors, pots, paintings, walls, and one linen scroll.
The first section, by Nancy Thomson de Grummond, describes the 1857 archaeological excavation of the Francois Tomb at Vulci as well as earlier stages in Etruscan research. She touches on the interest among ancient historians and the Etruscan influence on Roman soothsaying that endured until A.D. 408. Later, the Etruscan hammer-carrying Charun influenced demonology, as Etruscan influence became most visible in Renaissance art.
II. History: Land and People:
The second section, by Mario Torelli, looks at the history of the Etruscans and their eventual loss of power: its sea dominance was destroyed in 474 B.C. at Cumae after which there is evidence that Etruria's luxurious lifestyle was diminished. It wasn't until 311 that Rome and Etruria came into serious conflict. Rome came out on top, but Etruscan influences didn't end.
III. International Contacts: Commerce, Trade, and Foreign Affairs:
Jean MacIntosh Turfa writes the third section, on international relations between Etruria and the related Halstatt culture to the north in the Villanovan period, with the Phoenicians from the 8-5th centuries, with the Greeks from the Bronze Age on, and with Iberia and Gaul,on one side, and Illyria and Eastern Europe, on the other, in the sixth century.
Marie-Francoise Briguet writes about what the art of the Etruscans shows about the people. Excavated edifices built for the dead, necropoleis, where the Etruscans included the luxuries and artistically decorated necessities of daily (after-) life, give us a look at their great craftsmanship. Goldwork, an area in which the Etruscans excelled was modelled after the Near East. Tombs were filled with luxuries in precious metal, amber, and ivory. There are also remains of Etruscan stone artwork.
Friedhelm Prayon writes about the homes for the dead, the necropoleis which were based on homes for the living. He also looks at the development of tombs. Actual living quarters were built for access to the water and suitability for defense. Geological formations dictated placement. Prayon doubts most cites had town walls. He describes the changes in the architecture of houses from oval to rectangle with atriums. Finally he mentions the Etruscan skill in building canals.
David Enders Tripp writes about coinage in Etruria, which came late compared with elsewhere. Coins were struck only sporadically. Coins were struck by dies or cast in mold. Bronze coins have been found in the interior and gold and silver coins in coastal areas. Flat surfaces of some coins have the value inscribed.
VII. Archaeological Introduction to the Etruscan Language:
This article by Emeline Richardson is slightly out of date because of the discrovery of the Tabula Cortonensis, but we still have only a limited vocabulary. The words discovered are mostly funerary and ritual inscriptions, and engravings on mirrors. Richardson explains the Etruscan alphabet. We know what the letters are, so we can actually read Etruscan, but we have too little information on what the words mean. The inscriptions give very limited examples of Etruscan grammar.
VIII. Daily Life and Afterlife:
Larissa Bonfante, editor of the collection, writes the final article, which again looks at the Etruscan mirrors and tomb architecture to see that the people of Etruria were adorned, superstitious and the women were given much greater importance than elsewhere in the ancient world. That the mirrors were engraved with names of divinities indicates literacy among the Etruscan women.