Located on the northern border of the region of Montalto di Castro is Vulci, one of the most powerful and famous Etruscan cities. The settlement is located at the centre of a wide flat zone in the heart of the Maremma, above a plateau crossed by the river Fiora. Numerous villages sprang up in the area, which was already inhabited in the Paleolithic, and their gradual merging gave rise to the big Etruscan city. The process of formation of the city already appeared in an advanced phase in the second half of the 7th century B.C., when contact between Vulci and the cities of Magna Graecia increased, and the city became the fulcrum for the lines of communication which reached from the coast to the Etruscan centres of the hinterland. At the start of the 6th century, thanks to these commercial links, Vulci started to reach the height of its power, which manifested itself in both the economic and the political field. The citys importance then became such that traces of its influence could also be found in the political life of Rome in the monopoly era. According to certain Roman stories, Servìo Tullio was helped by two Vulci commanders, Aulo and Celio Vibenna, to conquer the throne of Roma. The contemporaneous development of agriculture is also notable; this was made possible by the development of commerce and the introduction of new technologies and tools. Vulci was in contact with the major ports of the Mediterranean, and the materials recovered from inside its necropolises testify to the quality of the imported objects and those produced locally, first by Greek immigrant artists and then by local artists, who produced extremely sophisticated artefacts in their workshops; these were widespread throughout the Mediterranean. In 474 B.C., however, the defeat of the Etruscan fleet in the waters of Cuma caused a gradual decrease in traffic and, particularly, in the import of artistic objects. Although local potters continued to produce Greek imitation ceramics, from that point on the Vulci economy largely turned to agricultural exploitation of the vast territory. Led by the Etruscan League, Vulci tenaciously opposed the Romans, but in 280 B.C. it was defeated by them and annexed to the Sabatina tribe, becoming a Roman municipality. In the centuries that followed, it experienced a slow and inexorable decline. The bishops see in the 4th century was completely abandoned between the 9th and 10th centuries, following pillages by Saracen pirates.
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