Military architecture
For their defence, the first Etruscan towns trusted in the inaccessibility of their locations, with sites on high ground on rocky spurs often being chosen, and in the intricate maze of the alleys of the inhabited areas. During the 6th and 5th centuries BC, the walls surrounding the major cities were very simple in design. Large square blocks were put on top of one another and the wall merely marked the limits of the city. The weakest points, such as the gates, were reinforced by the presence of towers. The Etruscans remained faithful to this antiquated conception and did not follow the developments, which can be dated to the 4th century BC, of military architecture, according to which walls were built according to requirements of defence. The consequence was that their cities became very vulnerable to attacks from the culturally more advanced populations living in the centre and south of the Italian peninsula.

The Etruscan army
To equip their armies, the Etruscans could rely on a great availability of ferrous materials, extracted from the mines of central Italy.The individual city-states recruited their armies from their citizens according to the census and corps of cavalry, hoplites (foot soldiers) and lightly-armed troops were formed. The cavalry had mobility as its strongpoint and consequently its tasks were those of reconnaissance, skirmishes and pursuit. The hoplites, whose arms could differ greatly, but which guaranteed a fairly complete protection, fought in a compact formation, with the best placed in the front line, and their mission was to attack the enemy. Lastly, the role of the lightly-armed foot soldiers, with weapons such as lances, but not protected by armour, was to confuse and provoke the enemy formations, striking from afar. There were also corps of engineers whose task it was to erect fortifications and dismantle those of the enemy during assault operations. As a last resource, on some occasions, formations of priests took part in the conflicts, throwing themselves on to the enemy armed with snakes and lighted torches. In ancient times, the use of the war chariot was common. It is not known whether these were used solely as a means of transport for the leaders to reach the battlefield or actually in the fighting.

The arms
The weapons used in attack by the Etruscan foot-soldier comprised a wide choice of arms for hand to hand fighting: lances, short or long swords, normal and two-headed axes, curved swords and daggers. Javelins, bows and arrows were also used. The arms for defence purposes consisted of armour for the chest, made of fabric reinforced by metallic studs or bronze armour, made in two or three pieces and with a linen lining. Their heads were protected by bronze helmets of varying shapes: they protected the cheeks or the nose and could be simple or crested. Their legs were protected by bronze greaves. The armour was completed by a leather, wooden or bronze shield, which could be round, oval or rectangular.


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