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Their origins are unclear and many questions remain to be answered
The Etruscans originally inhabited the region to the north of Rome, between the Arno and Tiber Rivers to the west of the Apennine Mountains. The Romans were, in the beginning, the subjects of the Etruscans- who later became their conquerors. Etruscan culture was quite well-developed and relatively advanced while remaining distinctively different from those of the surrounding region. These distinctive differences led scholars to question the origins of Etruscans, which was a topic of great speculation among the ancient Greeks.
Some Greeks held that the Etruscans were a branch of the Pelasgians, the native inhabitants of the Aegean region. Others, such as Virgil, thought they came from Lydia, a kingdom of western Anatolia (modern-day Western Turkey). The Greek master historian Herodotus also ascribed the origin of the Etruscans to Lydia who theorized that their ancestors were forced to emigrate from Lydia because of 18 years of hard times in their lands. The Lydians built ships, and half of the population left under the leadership of Tyrrhenus, the son of the king of Lydia.
The Pelasgians, on the other hand, may have been the ‘Sea People’ who invaded the Egyptian Empire in around 1200 B.C. The Greek historian, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in his Early History of Rome dismissed this theory and argued that the Etruscans were the native inhabitants of their area.
The question of Etruscan origins became even more intriguing when, in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that most of the languages of Europe belonged to the Indo-European language family, however, Etruscan did not.
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