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Caere (also Caisra and Cisra) is the Latin name given by the Romans to one of the larger cities of Southern Etruria, the modern Cerveterimarker, approximately 50-60 kilometres north-northwest of Romemarker. To the Etruscans it was known as Cisra and to the Greeks as Agylla. It was bounded by the two rivers Mola and Manganello, and lay 80 metres above sea level on an outcrop of rocky tuff, a few kilometers from the coast.

Today, the area of Cerveteri is known for its Etruscan necropolis and archeological treasures.


The earliest evidence of settlement of the site come from finds of urns at two areas (Cava della Pozzolana and Sorbo) from the 8th and 9th centuries BC. Trade with the Greeks at Etruscomarker became increasingly common in the middle of the 8th century BC, with standardised urns and pottery common in graves of the time.

The town became Etruria's main trading centre during the 7th century BC, as well as increasing trade with other Greek colonies in Southern Italymarker and Sicily, and with the Corinthians. Locally manufactured products began to imitate imported Greek pottery.

Burials of the time became increasingly grand, with jewelry and other products of particularly fine manufacture, illustrating the continuing good fortunes of the city. At the height of its prosperity in the 6th century BC, the people of Caere (with the Carthaginiansmarker emerged marginally victorious from clashes with the Phocaean Greeksmarker.

Following the "Battle of the Sardinian Sea", captured prisoners were stoned to death in the city, an act that was attributed as the cause of an ensuing plague. In recompense, athletic contests were held every year in the city to honour the dead, who were given proper burial.

Following this historical, violent outburst by the people of the city, trade once again flourished through the 5th century BC, partly in spite of the difficulties affecting Etruria during the period. Arguably, this is due to the particularly good relations with the Rome, a traditional ally.

In 353 BC Caere, allied to the Tarquiniimarker, lost a war with Rome and with it some of its territory, including the coastal area and ports so important for trade. With this loss, the area lost its wealth and power completely by the first century AD.

It should be noted that this occurred during the First Punic War that pitted Rome against Carthage: the Etruscans and Carthaginians were traditional allies (see Battle of Alalia). Furthermore, the first resumption of Gladiatorial combats in Rome, after its liberation from the Etruscans by the Republic in 510 BC, was in 264, also during the First Punic War. And Caere's ally, Tarquinia, had a peace treaty with Rome that expired in 268 (on the eve of the Punic Wars).

Thus, it would appear that Carthage's Total War against the Roman Republic breathed new life into the Etruscan "Old Ways", and we infer that Carthage appealed to its enemy's enemies for support, pandering to smoldering Etruscan animosity towards their Roman overlords in order to open up a second military front against Rome.

Archeological site

Before the dominance of Rome in the area led to the fall of Etruria, during the period 700-300 BC the inhabitants had constructed an impressive necropolis known today as Banditacciamarker, which is still not fully excavated but has already yielded the "Sarcophagus of the Spouses".


See also

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