The origin of the Etruscans has been much debated but, according to present thinking, they were largely native Italians domiciled in central Italy, the modern Tuscany, who had developed their natural resources so skilfully that they became extremely wealthy. In return for their mineral and agricultural products, they were able to import luxuries from Greece and Phoenicia. The period of their greatest power covers the seventh and sixth centuries BC
The decline began shortly after the beginning of the fifth century BC, and continued until the middle of the third when the Etruscan cities were absorbed by the growing power of Rome…
Etruscan gold fibulae (7th century BC).
On top, a serpentine fibula from Vulci or perhaps Cerveteri (north-west of Rome), is covered with designs in superfine granulation and figures of lions, lions’ heads, horses’ heads and sphinxes modeled in the round, all of which are also richly granulated. The pin is inserted into a sheath, which has eight pairs of lions and terminates in a pair of lions’ heads. The bow is decorated with a complicated arrangement of horses’ and lions’ heads. Above the lions’ heads are four sphinxes. Three pairs of lions clamber up the section from the point where the sheath and bow are joined.
On the bottom, is a bolt-fibula found in the Campagna (the lowland area around Rome). It is composed of four curved tubes which have female heads as finials. The fibula is made in two halves. On one side a pin protrudes from each of the two outer tubes; to fasten the fibula these pins are inserted into the two corresponding hollow tubes on the other half. The outer pairs of tubes are connected by four plates, each decorated with four crouching sphinxes modeled in the round.