In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Etruscan Architecture

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Collections of Papers
  • Museum and Exhibition Catalogues
  • Origins and History of Scholarship
  • Architects and Patrons
  • City Planning and Location of Buildings
  • Temples, Shrines, and Sanctuaries
  • Monumental Buildings
  • Domestic Architecture
  • Farmhouses, Storage Buildings, Workshops
  • Funerary Architecture
  • City Walls
  • Functional Architecture
  • Models of Buildings

Classics Etruscan Architecture
Ingrid Edlund-Berry
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 June 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 June 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0121


The study of Etruscan architecture suffers greatly in comparison with its Greek and Roman counterparts because of the building materials used. Whereas Greek temples, such as the Parthenon in Athens, and Roman public buildings, such as the immense bath complex of Caracalla in Rome, immediately catch the attention and admiration of students and travelers, Etruscan architectural remains consist for the most part of underground tombs, foundation walls, models of huts and houses, and fragments of terracotta roof decoration. At the same time, thanks to the description by the Roman architectural historian Vitruvius (Ten Books on Architecture 4.7.1–4), the proportions and layout of the so-called Tuscan temple are well known and have been much admired and studied during the Renaissance and later. The perception of Etruscan architecture has, however, changed much since the advent of large-scale excavations in the late 19th century, and since the 1950s new evidence has produced important results for our understanding of the architectural traditions in ancient Italy.

General Overviews

The overviews on Etruscan architecture address very different kinds of audiences, and each has its own focus and strengths. Haynes 2000 includes architecture as one of the hallmarks of Etruscan civilization, whereas Boëthius 1978 provides an overview that at the time of writing (1970) represented the most complete and authoritative view. Colonna 1986 and Donati 2000 are chapters in general books on the Etruscans for Italian as well as international readers, while Damgaard Andersen 1998 covers all aspects of early Etruscan architecture in a very systematic presentation. Barker and Rasmussen 1998 emphasizes the landscape of Etruria with accounts of excavations and remains, including architecture. A recent topic of discussion concerns the relationship between Etruscan architecture in general and the architectural traditions of ancient Rome. Works such as Cifani 2008 and Hopkins 2010 emphasize the individual characteristic features of early Roman architecture in relation to that of its Etruscan neighbors. Paoletti and Camporeale 2005 and Moretti Sgubini 2001 illustrate the architectural traditions of different Etruscan sites with an emphasis on Caere/Cerveteri, Tarquinia, Veii, and Vulci. Since no reference works, bibliographies, report, or research papers deal specifically with Etruscan architecture, consult the corresponding sections in the “Etruscans” article for more general resources.

  • Barker, Graeme, and Tom Rasmussen. 1998. The Etruscans. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Excellent general overview of Etruscan culture with descriptions of sites and architecture.

  • Boëthius, Axel. 1978. Etruscan and early Roman architecture. 2d integrated ed. Revised by Roger Ling and Tom Rasmussen. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

    A solid overview based on archaeological evidence from Etruscan sites. Remains a useful reference work in spite of its date.

  • Cifani, Gabriele. 2008. Architettura romana arcaica. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider.

    A catalogue of the remains from early Rome, including famous buildings such as the Capitoline temple.

  • Colonna, Giovanni. 1986. Urbanistica e architettura. In Rasenna: Storia e civiltà degli Etruschi. Edited by Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli, 371–530. Milan: Libri Scheiwiller.

    An extensive presentation of architecture and city planning by Italy’s foremost Etruscologist.

  • Damgaard Andersen, Helle. 1998. Etruscan architecture from the Late Orientalizing to the Archaic period (c. 640–480 B.C.). PhD diss., Univ. of Copenhagen.

    An outstanding and clear presentation of the archaeological evidence, unfortunately not published with illustrations and complete documentation.

  • Donati, Luigi. 2000. Civil, religious, and domestic architecture. In The Etruscans. Edited by Mario Torelli, 313–333. London: Thames & Hudson.

    Overview included in an exhibition catalogue published in Italian and English.

  • Haynes, Sybille. 2000. Etruscan civilization: A cultural history. London: British Museum.

    An extensive overview of Etruscan culture based on late-20th-century discoveries and scholarship.

  • Hopkins, John N. 2010. The topographical transformation of Archaic Rome: A new interpretation of architecture and geography in the early city. PhD diss., Univ. of Texas at Austin.

    Unpublished dissertation on the originality of early Roman architecture in relation to presumed Etruscan influences, now published in 2016 as The Genesis of Roman Architecture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).

  • Moretti Sgubini, Anna Maria, ed. 2001. Veio, Cerveteri, Vulci: Città d’Etruria a confronto. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider.

    Study of late-20th-century archaeological discoveries from three major Etruscan cities and a reevaluation of already excavated material.

  • Paoletti, Orazio, and Giovannangelo Camporeale, eds. 2005. Dinamiche di sviluppo delle città nell’Etruria meridionale: Veio, Caere, Tarquinia, Vulci; Atti del XXIII Convegno di studi etruschi ed italici, Roma, Veio, Cerveteri/Pyrgi, Tarquinia, Tuscania, Vulci, Viterbo, 1–6 ottobre 2001. Rome: Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali.

    Two-volume collection of articles on major Etruscan sites in Italy by excavators and scholars. Review by Jean MacIntosh Turfa in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 3 (2006): 32.

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