A Chronology Of Early Italian History

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Events in the Italian area

Principal events in the rest of the Mediterranean

16th-15th centuries BC

Middle Bronze Age (Appennine) civilisation - Peoples speaking various types of Indo-European language already present in Italy, with some intermixture between themselves and with the indigenous populations - Mycenaean influences (Mycenaean 1 and II)

Flowering in Greece of the late Helladic (Mycenaean) culture - Mycenaean conquest of Crete - in Egypt, rule of the Eighteenth Dynasty: Egypt dominant in the Near East

14th-13th centuries BC

Late Bronze Age (late Appenine or sub-Apennine) civilisation - Mycenaean influence at its height (Mycenaean IIIA and B), with probable presence of Mycenaean visitors in southern and Tyrrhenian coastal Italy and the islands

Mycenaean political-economic system: centralised power, wide presence in the Mediterranean - Nineteenth Dynasty in Egypt and flowering of the Hittite empire in Asia Minor -first movements of the Peoples of the Sea

c. 1200


Traditional dating of the Trojan war

12th-11th centuries BC

Final Bronze Age ('Proto-Villanovan') civilisation - ethnic movements: Iapygians into Apulia; Ausonians, Sicels, etc. into Aeolian Is. and Sicily last phase of Mycenaean influence (Mycenaean III C) and weakening of links with Aegean

Crisis in eastern Med. and Near East: 'Peoples of the Sea' (PIst, Tr, rdn, kl, etc. : possibly connected with Italian area) - decline and breakup of Mycenaean system -sub-Mycenaean and protogeometric styles of pottery

10th century BC

last stage of Late Bronze Age civilisation - regional differentiation begins, related to future ethnic groupings

possible start of Phoenician voyages and colonisations in the west

9th century BC

Iron Age civilisation: different forms in different ethnic groups: Palaeo-ltalic' in fossa-culture area, lapygian in Apulia, first eastern Italic peoples in middle Adriatic and central Apennine area, Latins in Latium, Etruscans in area of Villanovan culture, palaeo-Veneti in Ateste cultural area - Villanovan expansion northwards (EmiliaRomagna) and southwards (Salerno region)

Oligarchic regimes replace Greek monarchies - formation of the polis - civilisation characterised by geometric style

Phoenician cities in western Mediterranean

c. 800


Foundation of Carthage

8th century BC

Etruscan voyages towards southern Tyrrhenian and start of Etruscan 'thalassocracy' -pottery in geometric style arrives in Tyrrhenian Italy

Greeks begin to undertake voyages and colonial expeditions to the west

c. 775

Greek colony of Pithecusae founded on Ischia by Euboeans, Cumae on Campanian coast founded shortly after


c. 750

Euboeans found Naxos, Megarians found Megara Hyblaea in Sicily

Marked development of late Villanovan civilisation in Etruria - social differentiation, emergence of a ruling class -formation of cities in Etruria, Latium, Campania (753 is the traditional date of Rome's founding)

Carthage domination of Western seas

Tiglathpileser III founds second Assyrian Empire

c. 730

Corinthians found Syracuse


c. 715-710

Achaeans found Sybaris and Croton, Laconians (Spartans) found Tarenturn

First orientalising influences in Tyrrhenian Italy - introduction of alphabetic (Euboean) script in Etruria

Syrian states annexed by Assyria

Orientalising fashions spread in Greece

7th century BC

c. 700-670

Rhodians and Cretans found Gela,

Locrians found Locri Epizephyrii, Greeks from Colophon found Siris

Orientalising civilisation reaches full development in Etruria, and affects Latium - Caere and Praeneste flourish - Sabines at Rome

Assyrian conquest of Egypt (671)

c. 650

Selinus founded from Megara Hyblaea

Corinthian influence - developed

orientalising stage -terracotta begins to be used as decorative material for building

Rule of tyrants at Corinth: Kypselos (657-627), Periander (627-585)

Marked flowering of Corinthian civilisation and power - 'Daedalic' and Peloponnesian art develops in Greece

First eastern Greek long distance voyages in the west: Kolaios of Samos reaches Tartessus in Iberia

c. 615

The Etruscans at Rome ('period of

Tarquinius Priscus') culmination of Etruscan 'thalassocracy' and trade, as well as of Etruscan expansion by land

Maritime expansion of the Phocaeans - founding of Massalia (Marseilles)

Fall of Ninevah - Collapse of Assyrian empire (612)

Lydian Empire in Asia Minor (c 610)

c. 600

Possible first incursion of Celts into northern Italy

Solon's reforms at Athens

6th century BC
c. 580

Greeks from Cnidos and Rhodes in

Aeolian Islands -Agrigento founded from Cela Sybaris flourishes in Southern Italy

Vulci flourishes in Etruria

Social and civil conflict at Miletus

c. 575-530

Possible start of social and civil conflicts in central Italy -

Exploits of Mastarna and the Vibenna brothers - 'Servian period' and reforms attibuted to Servius Tullius

Carthage rises to prominence among the Phoenician cities in the west

Croesus king of Lydia (560 - 547)

Persians conquer Lydia (547)



Cyrus king of the Persians conquers Asia Minor -Phocaeans flee to the west, joining other Phocaeans already established in Corsica

c. 540

Etruscan-Carthaginian coalition against Phocaeans of Corsica - naval battle of the Sardinian Sea - in consequence, Etruscans establish control of Corsica, and Carthage takes first steps towards conquest of Sardinia



Phocaeans fleeing Corsica found Velia - Samians found Dicaearchia (Pozzuoli) - Pythagoras in Italy

Eastem-Greek (Ionic) art spreads widely in Italy

Possible alliance of Sardinians (Serdaioi?) with Sybaris against the Carthaginian threat


c. 530-510

Reaction and tyrannical rule at Rome: 'period of Tarquin the Proud' - Rome gains dominion over Latium



Etruscans at war with Cumae: they are defeated and Aristodemus rises to prominence

Cambyses conquers Egypt

Darius I (521 - 486) King of Persia


Sybaris defeated and destroyed by Croton

Traditional date of the fall of the monarchy and the founding of the republic at Rome -first treaty between Rome and Carthage

Expansion of Clusium - king Lars Porsenna at Rome

Time of the ending of tyranny at Hippias and introduction of democracy in Athens


5th century BC

Battle of Aricia: Aruns Porsenna is defeated by Aristodernus of Cumae allied with the Latins

Sardinia conquered by the Carthaginians: the campaigns of the Magonids




Ionians revolt against the Persians in Asia Minor


Anaxilas tyrant at Reggio

Sack of Miletus (494)


Probable approximate period of the pro-Carthaginian tyranny of Thefarie Velianas at Caere - beginning of Volscian penetration into Latium

First Persian war: Darius' offensive, battle of Marathon -Massalian Greeks defeat Carthage at Cape Artemisium


Gelon tyrant at Syracuse

Xerxes in Persia (486 - 465)


Victory of Gelon over Carthaginians at Himera

Second Persian war: battles of Thermopylae and Salamis; followed by battles of Plataea and Mykale (479), which conclude the war


Hiero tyrant at Syracuse

Start of '50 years of peace' in Greece - dominance of Athens - naval league of Delos




Naval battle of Cumae: Etruscans defeated by Hiero and the Cumaeans



Successful Messapian offensive against Tarenturn: possible Messapian advance as far as Reggio

Development of inland Etruscan cities and flourishing of Po-Adriatic region of Etruscan civilisation (Bologna: civilisation of Certosa, Marzabotto, Spina)



Appius Herdonius the Sabine makes an incursion into Rome



Campaigns of Ducetius, the Siculan chieftain

Period of greatest flowering of Greek civilisation, literature and art - Athens under Pericles


Expeditions of Syracusan admirals Phayllus and Apelles against the seas and northern coasts of Etruria

Athens, on the initiative of Pericles, attempts to establish a footing in southern Italy and Sicily



Pan-Hellenic foundation of Thurii on site of Sybaris

Construction of the Parthenon begins in Athens (447)


Samnites press on Campania: formation of the Campanian people

Periclean age in Athens (447-432)


Plato is born (429)

First phase of the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta (Archidamian war)


Samnites occupy Capua: end of the Etruscan dominion in Campania



Curnae occupied by the Campanians: moves to wards Greco-Campanian condominium at Neapolis



Athenian expedition against Syracuse -an Etruscan contingent (perhaps from Tarquinii, under Veltur Spurinna?) fights alongside the Athenians, with some military success - disastrous overall outcome of the campaign




Last phase of Peloponnesian war and final defeat of Athens by the Spartans and Persians


Carthaginian counter-attack in Sicily: capture of Selinus and Himera



Carthaginians conquer Agrigento, Gela and Camarina - Dionysius takes power in Syracuse


4th century BC

Romans take and destroy Veii.
Fall of Melpum

Death of Socrates (399)

c. 390

Gallic incursions in central Italy and along the Adriatic coast - constitution of the Lucanian league



Dionysius consolidates his power and pursues expansionist policies - capture of Reggio - Adriatic campaigns - foundation of Ancona - entente with the Gauls


c. 386

Gauls set fire to Rome

Dominance of Sparta


Fleet of Dionysius I sacks the sanctuary at Pyrgi

Plato founds the Academy (385)


War between Dionysius and Carthage in alliance with Italiote cities and Lucani -Archytas' Italiote league




Athenian revival - battle of Leuctra - Thebes dominant


Death of Dionysius, accession of Dionysius II and start of phase of anarchy in Syracuse and Sicily

Probable period of Tarquinian dominance in Etruria



Tarquinians and Faliscans under Aulus Spurinna make war on Rome -king of Caere dethroned operations in Latium - slave revolt against Cilnii at Arezzo

Aristotle Mid century ; Heraclides Ponticus


League of the Bruttii formed -Lucanians exert growing pressure on Italiote cities - threatening presence of Messapians who conquer Metapontum and Heraclea

Philip of Macedon begins expansionist policy in Greece


Timoleon at Syracuse -Archidamus king of Sparta at Tarentum

First Samnite War (343-341)



Rome's victorious war against the Latins, Volscians and Campanians formation of a Roman -Latin-CampanianLeague




Battle of Chaeronea and imposition of Macedonian dominion on Greece



Death of Philip and accession of Alexander the Great



Alexander's conquests in the east, followed by his death

c. 333-330

Campaigns of Alexander of Molossia in southern Italy



Rome at war with the Samnites Roman relations with Apulia



Agathocles tyrant of Syracuse and thus king of the Siceliotes (Creeks of Sicily) -he makes war on Carthage, with Etruscan help, and mounts an expedition into Africa - his campaigns in southern Italy



Acrotatus of Sparta's Sicilian expedition



Etruscan League (with exception of Arretium) beseiges Roman colony of Sutrium. Etruscans defeated at Perusia - seige lifted



Truce with Perusia and Arretium, and 40 year truce with Tarquinii.



Roman-Carthaginian treaty granting Italy to Rome, Sicily to Carthage



War resumes. Rome intervenes in civil war at Arretium between Cilnii and rest of people.

Cleonymus of Sparta's southern Italian expedition: he makes an alliance with Tarenturn against the Lucanians


3rd century BC

War between Rome and Falerii and Volaterrae



Anti-Roman coalition of Samnites, Gauls, Etruscans and Umbrians. Samnites and Gauls defeated at Sentinum with massive losses. Roman victories over the Etruscans.

Hellenistic civilisation and art in Greece and under the Diadochi in the Orient


Truces with Volsinii, Perusia and Arretium, but war persists with other Etruscans.



Falerii rebels against Rome and is defeated.



Volsinii rebels and is defeated.

Agathocles' Campanian mercenaries found the state of the Mamertines at Messina



Roman victories over the GalIi Senones , conquest of the ager Gallicus - battle of Lake Vadimo - hostilities against the Samnites, Lucanians and Bruttians - Roman occupation of the Greek cities of southern Italy (Thurii, Locri, Reggio)



Volsinii and Vulci defeated



Tarquinii defeated



Rome makes war on Tarentum - Pyrrhus king of Epirus in Italy: his initial victories over the Romans and unsuccessful expedition against the Carthaginians in Sicily; he is defeated at Benevento (275) and leaves Italy Tarentum surrenders



Conquest of Caere



Popular revolution at Volsinii: the Romans conquer the city and move its site



First Punic War



Gallic coalition against Rome -battle of Telamon - in consequence Romans occupy Gallic lands in the Po plain



Second Punic war - Hannibal in Italy


2nd Century BC

Rome reconquers northern Italy

Rome's war with Macedonia -start of Roman campaigns and conquests in the eastern Mediterranean with the military aid of the Italic allies


Repression of the Bacchanalia, the Dionysiac cult widespread amongst the Italic allies




Free port at Delos - Italic negotiatores become active in the Orient


Gradual admission of elements of the slave population to citizenship in northern Etruria

3rd Punic war: destruction of Carthage - Rome's domination of the Mediterranean is definitively confirmed


Slave war in Sicily



Agrarian reforms and death of Tiberius Gracchus

Discontent among the Italic allies



Revolt and destruction of Fregellae



Laws proposed favouring the Italic allies; death of Gaius Gracchus


1st century BC

Killing of Livius Drusus the tribune, favourably disposed to the Italic peoples, and outbreak of the Social War involving Oscan-speaking peoples of central and southern Italy - proposal of the Lex Iulia granting Roman citizenship to Italic peoples



Continuation and gradual fading out of Social War -Marius and his democratic and pro-Italic party in the ascendant at Rome

Italians massacred in the Orient and war with Mithridates king of Pontus - possible contacts between Mithridates and the Italic insurgents


Sulla returns from the east and carries out repressive policies towards Italic elements -



Samnite contingents defeated at the battles of Sacriporto, Porta Collina and Palestrina, -Sulla acts against the Etruscans Spartacus' slave war



Provisions for the granting of Roman citizenship to the northern Italian populations



War with Perugia: end of traditional Etruscan milieu


1st Century AD
27 BC-14 AD

Rule of emperor Augustus


41-54 AD

Rule of emperor Claudius


117-138 AD

Rule of emperor Hadrian


Late 2nd

-3rd century AD

Italic traditions reassert themselves in official Roman art


4th-5th centuries AD

Last evidence concerning the activities of the haruspices (augurs)


   Introduction   |    Origins   |    Orientalizing Period   |    Early Rome   |    Etruscan Decline   |    Burning of the books   |    Home   |