Etruscan Clevsin, Umbrian Camars, Roman Clusium, Modern Chiusi


The Etruscan city of Clevsin was located on the site of modern Chiusi, in Tuscany regione, north-central Italy. Clusium was founded in the 8th century BC on the site of an older Umbrian town known as Camars.

According to legend the town of Clusium was built by Clusius, the son of Tyrrhenus, one of the legendary Lydian founders of Etruria.

In the early 6th century BCE Clusium entered into an alliance with Arretium (Arezzo) and other Etruscan towns against Tarquinius Priscus of Rome. At the end of the 6th century BC, Clusium's king, Lars Porsena, attacked Rome and probably captured the city. Clusium is most famous as the birth place of Lars Porsenna, the king of Clusium, who, at the end of the 6th century BCE, besieged and occupied Rome for a short time.

In 391 BCE Clusium was allied with Rome against invading Gauls led by the chieftain Brennus, who captured Rome the following year and demanded a ransom of gold.

A hundred years later the battle of Sentino signed the end of political independence of Chiusi.

Fresco from the "Tomba della Scimmia": boxers and javelin thrower 480-470 BCE.)

Like other Etruscan cities, Clusium was surrounded by a myriad of tombs tombs, including the
"Tomba della Scimmia". The modern excavation of Clusian tombs has yielded clay funerary jars with lids molded in the form of human heads, as well as ceramic human figures and Greek and locally made pottery. The decorations on sarcophagi found in the tombs have proved a major source of inscriptions in the Etruscan language.

The tomb of Lars Porsenna existed as late as the 1st Century BCE and was described by Pliny the Elder. Unfortunately it has not survived to this day. The Cuniculi or labyrinths under the city are said by some to be part of this famous tomb, although it seems more likely to have been part of an elaborate drainage system.

According to Pliny the Elder, Lars Porsenna was buried "sub urbe Clusio" (under the city of Clusium), in a huge square tomb 300 feet wide, containing an inextricable labyrinth. On the tomb were pyramids and a bronze "petaso" from which were hanging chains and bells "which played when the wind moved them...".

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