The Biedano Valley 450-50BC – Cultural change in a South Etruscan town and hinterland
The Biedano Valley is in its nature a border area between the territories of the great Etruscan cities of Tarquinii and Caere. After Caere’s inclusion in the Roman sphere of interest, following the Gallic sack of Rome in the early 4th century BC, the Ager Bleranus seems to have come under the influence of Tarquinii, thus making it a borderland between this city and Rome and ultimately between Rome and the free South Etruria. This very character as a buffer zone is in many ways what makes the area interesting. An area where cultures both clash and meet, makes a very strong case study for the ever ongoing discussion on Romanisation and Hellenisation. The first half of the 4th century marks Rome’s beginning influence in South Etruria with the fall of Veii in 396 BC. The South Etruria Survey project, run by the British School at Rome in the 1950’s and 1960’s has shown a significant change in the settlement patterns of the Veii territory during the later 4th century. Rural settlements start to increase and earlier urban settlements loose in importance while previously less important centres gain in importance. This development has traditionally been accredited to the Roman presence in the area. A similar development can also be seen in the Ager Bleranus, the difference being that this area became a part of the Roman sphere of interest much later, in the early 3rd century. Could there be a Romanisation without the direct presence of Rome? Or, does this development have nothing to do with Rome at all? The material can be divided into three groups consisting of survey material, epigraphic material and ancient authors. Of these, the main material comes from the field survey results of S. Quilici Gigli (1976) and P. Hemphill (2000), which itself can be divided into three subgroups: settlements, tombs and road networks. The scope of the study is to provide a synchronised chronology for the survey material and to compile the three material groups in order to give a synthesis, a historical narrative of the cultural and social development in the Ager Bleranus from the late 5th to the 1st century BC. In terms of theoretical approach, globalisation and bilingualism are central to the attempted understanding of these developments.