Port and navigation
The port represented an area of great economic dynamism and cultural liveliness. Often, for reasons of defence, the cities were not built on the coast but slightly inland. It was thus that the most important cities had ports, for example Pyrgi for Caere, which developed to the extent of becoming themselves well-known and important centres. The ports, in addition to receiving commercial and military traffic, were the gathering point for a numerous fleet of small boats used by fishermen, as the waters of the Etruscan coast were famous for the abundance of fish to be caught there. In the first phase of their history, the Etruscans were a sea-faring people respected in the whole of the Mediterranean. Due to the lack of instrumentation and the fragility of the vessels, which could not withstand storms, navigation was as close as possible to the coast and only during the day. At night, the cargo boats cast their anchors in sheltered places, whilst the war galleys were hauled by their crews on to the shore. The sailors of the period used the stars and their knowledge of the conformation of the coasts to guide them. Portolanos did exist but they were not commonly used.

Maritime trade
In ancient times, navigation represented the least costly and safest method for the transport of goods and people. The seas and navigable rivers were constantly plied by vessels carrying every type of goods. As early as the 7th and 8th centuries BC, the Etruscan merchants reached every part of the Mediterranean in their ships. The typical products exported were ceramics, in particular bucchero ware, and wine. The cargo ships were squat and pot-bellied, with the keel at times covered by a sheet of lead; the poop was high and curved, the sail was square and attached to the central mast. They used anchors of stone, and the ancients attributed their invention to the Etruscans. To steer the boat, the helmsman used two oars on the quarter-deck.

War at sea
The warships, long and streamlined, moved forward by the force of oarsmen in one or two rows and the wind was used as an auxiliary driving force. The war galleys could be up to thirty metres in length and in the most ancient times they had no bridge; later, they had an upper bridge for the sailors and soldiers. A rostrum was inserted on the prow which skimmed the surface of the water. This was used in fighting to ram enemy galleys. At sea, the combat technique was that of manoeuvres and ramming. Success therefore depended on the skill of the crews and the strength of the oarsmen. When the vessels came close together, there was a heavy launching of projectiles, at times in flames; when the ships were side by side, the crews tried to strike one another using long lances. There was boarding and hand to hand fighting when contingents of foot soldiers were on board and when the aim was to capture an enemy ship and its cargo. During the winter, naval operations were suspended, but the disaster of entire fleets destroyed by a storm was not infrequent.


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