File:Italy Regions Latium Map.png

The Latial culture (Italian Cultura laziale), formerly southern Villanovan, is a variant of the archaeological Villanovan culture. The Latial ranged approximately over ancient Latium (from which modern Lazio descends). The iron-age Latial culture succeeded the bronze-age Apennine culture and is considered to end after the Villanovan with the appearance in history of a state called Latium, populated by a people speaking old Latin. The culture is likely therefore to identify a phase of the socio-political self-consciousness of the Latin people. It coincides roughly with the legendary period of the Latin kings of Alba Longa and the foundation and monarchy of Rome.

The Latial is diagnosed by the hut-urn. Where Villanovan cremation urns are plain, biconical and were buried in a deep shaft, the hut-urn is a round or square model of a hut with a peaked roof and a door leading to the interior of one side. Cremation was not an exclusive rite; it shared the funerary conventions with inhumation, with decreasing frequency as the period progressed; however, the artifact assemblage with which it is associated is distinctive. The hut-urns correspond to the huts in which the population for the most part lived, although during the period they developed the use of stone for temples and other public buildings.[1][2]

The Apennine culture of Latium transitioned smoothly into the Latial with no evidence of an intrusive population movement. The population generally abandoned sites of purely economic advantage in favor of defensible sites, the locations of future cities, about which they clustered; hence the term pre-urban. This population movement may indicate an increase in marauding.[3]


The periodization is standard and varies little; however, a tolerance of ±25 years is implied:[4][5][6]

Period Date BC Other names Phase
Latial or LC (Latial Culture) I 1000-900 Proto-Villanovan, Final Bronze Age Pre-urban
LCIIA 900-830 Early Iron Age, Villanovan Pre-urban
LCIIB 830-770 Early Iron Age, Villanovan Proto-urban
LCIII 770-730 Early Iron Age, Villanovan Proto-urban
LCIVA 730-630 Early & Middle Orientalizing Proto-urban
LCIVB 630-580 Late Orientalizing Archaic urban


Latial I[7] is concentrated in the Rome region, the Alban Hills and the Monti della Tolfa. Evidence is mainly funerary from necropoleis (cemeteries). Cremation was the predominant rite.[8] Cremation burials consist of a hut-urn with ashes of the deceased placed in a dolium (large jar) with some other vessels used for food offerings. Pottery is undecorated. Instead of a hut-urn a vase with a cone-like roof or simulated helmet may be used. The dolium was placed in a stone-lined pozzo (hole) and commemorated above-ground.

For grave goods, spindle-whorls identify females and miniature armor and weapons, males. Statuettes, some with hands outstretched, may be present.


  1. Cornell (1995), pp 48-51.
  2. Gordon (2007), p. 46.
  3. Smith (1996), p. 34.
  4. Smith (1996), p. xii.
  5. Gordon (2007), p. 46.
  6. Cornell (1995), p. 50.
  7. Smith (1996), pp. 37-43.
  8. Forsythe (2005), p. 54.


  • Cornell, Timothy J (1995). "The Origin of Rome: Archaeology in Rome and Old Latium: the Nature of the Evidence". The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC). The Routledge History of the Ancient World. Routledge. pp. 48-80. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7. 
  • Forsythe, Gary (2005). "Archaic Italy c. 800-500 BC". A critical history of early Rome : from prehistory to the first Punic War. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 28-58. 
  • Rüpke, Jörg; Gordon, Richard (Translator) (2007). "Historical Foundations". Religion of the Romans. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. pp. 39-64. ISBN 9780745630144. 
  • Smith, Christopher John (1996). Early Rome and Latium: Economy and Society c. 1000 to 500 BC. Oxford University Press. ISBN13: 978-0-19-815031-2, ISBN10: 0-19-815031-8. 

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