Fufluna (Roman Populonia)


The Roman city of Populonia was originally named Pupluna, probably after the Etruscan wine god, Fufluns. It was situated on the western coast of central Italy near present day PortoFerraio, on the Monte Massoncello Peninsula--the only large Etruscan city directly on the sea. The reason for the city's existence is found in the vast slag remnants from the smelting of silver and iron ores from the nearby island of Elba. Elba was quoted in the Aeneid as "insula inexhaustis chalybum generosa metallis"- the island rich in mines of inexhaustible iron.

 Coin from PuplunaCoin from PuplunaThe city became wealthy and prominent and was the first city in Etruria to coin silver. The coins illustrated are from Pupluna. The one on the right shows a typical stylised Etruscan lion. (second half of the 5th century BC).

During the First World War, shortages of Iron prompted the Italian government to exploit the old Etruscan Slag heaps at Populonia. The operation was a great success since the Slag was found to contain 35 to 40% iron, and sustained an industry which lasted for many decades. In the process of clearing the slag, many tombs were unearthed. Although they had collapsed under the weight of the slag, they nevertheless yielded numerous artifacts including votive gifts made of gold and bronze.


The city was taken over by the Romans and suffered greatly in the wars between Rome and the Boii (282 BC) and later in the civil wars between Marius and Sulla in the 1st century BC. Afterward, the older part of the city, on the hills of Molino and Del Castello, was made a Municipium.

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