The History and the Art

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Pressure from other groups, such as the Sabines to the south, the Picenes to the east, the Etruscans and the Galli Senoni who settled to the north of the Tevere in the so-called "Ager Gallicus", forced the Umbrians to reduce their domain. The few documents which have been preserved, including the writings of the Greek historian and geographer Strabone, allow us to reconstruct an image of an advanced civilisation which was strongly influenced by its powerful Etruscan neighbours. The area was organised into autonomous city states, probably forming a federation between them. Similar conclusions have been deduced from the most important document of Umbrian civilisation, the "Tavole Eugubine" - the Gubbio Tablets. These seven bronze plates, dating from the 3rd to the 1st century B.C., describe ceremonies and holy rites written half using the Etruscan alphabet and half using the Latin alphabet. Found in Gubbio they are preserved in Palazzo dei Consoli. The Etruscans were present on a large scale in many parts of Umbria to the right of the Tevere. In Perugia it is possible to follow an authentic Etruscan itinerary by way of the underground tombs of the Volumni, San Manno and that of the Cutu. Orvieto has been identified as the ancient Etruscan settlement of Volsinii. The remains found in the town and in the nearby burial chambers are preserved in the Claudio Faina Foundation Museum and in the Museum of the Works of the Cathedral (Opera del Duomo). Umbrian civilisation began an inexorable decline when it came in contact with Rome. At first some cities, such as Otricoli, tried forming an alliance.