Ancient Etruria was located in the region occupied by present-day Tuscany, at the top of the boot-shape of Italy. It was bounded by the Arno River in the north, and the Tiber River in the south. The volcanic landscape of Etruria rendered the geography dramatic, with steep gorges and rough cliff faces overlooking rushing streams. Etruscans, the forebears of the Romans, made their home there for over 900 years, from 1200 B.C.E. to the beginning of the roman conquest in 300 B.C.E.
By the sixth century B.C.E., Etruscan civilization had reached its height of industry and luxury. Considered outstanding seafarers and harsh military opponents at this time, the Etruscans were also known for their enterprising trade relationships. Their favorite trading partner was Greece, and the two cultures influenced one another markedly, from architectural styles to sporting events. Etruscan merchants and their customers were particularly fond of Grecian pottery, and modern excavations of Etruscan tombs have yielded more examples of Greek vases than are contained in Greece itself. In return, Etruscan wine and olive oil trade to Greece and elsewhere flourished.
Legend states that at the beginning of the Etruscan Iron Age, circa 753 B.C.E., the city of Rome was founded by twin sons of the war God Mars, Romulus and Remus. The boys had been abandoned by their divine father and Etruscan mother at birth and were raised by a female wolf, who had taken pity on the crying babies left in a forest near her den. When they grew up, the brothers became involved in a bitter quarrel about which was destined to greatness and the rulership of kingdom. Romulus killed Remus and founded his city in the region of Latium, on seven hills along the Tiber River, 16 miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Romulus decided that the city’s first emblem would be the image of the she-wolf that had raised him and his brother. He became Rome’s first king, and began a line of Etruscan rulers of Rome.
Scholars have yet to determine if historical figures similar to Romulus and Remus ever lived. However, they have determined that Rome was first settled by a people called the Latins. The Latins settled on several hills near the Tiber River between 1000 B.C.E. and 800 B.C.E. Over time, other tribes from central Italy joined the Latins. Around 500 B.C.E., the Etruscans united these groups and formed the city-state of Rome.