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In the borderlands:

Archaeological evidence for relations between Etruscans and Ligurians in the 6th-5th cents BC.


This project will use the archaeological evidence to define the nature of the relations between the Etruscans and the Ligurians and their impact on the economy, culture and structure of both societies, 6th-5th cents BC. In addition, I will identify the routes via which these contacts took place.

The Etruscans occupied west-central Italy and the central Po plain, whilst the inhabitants of north-west Italy are described as Ligurians, as in the ancient sources. We know that relations between the two changed through time, e.g. increasing with the geopolitical changes following the Battle of Alalia (around 540 BC) and the subsequent founding of an Etruscan settlement at Genoa. I will focus on the west sector of the Apennines and Po valley, examining all classes of pottery, the metal objects, the inscriptions and any other evidence that shows relationships between the two cultures.

Recent work has concentrated on defining the Ligurian culture, equated to the ethnic group known in the written sources (e.g. the 2004 I Liguri exhibition catalogue), or on the extent and chronology of Etruscan colonisation of the Po plain (e.g. the 2007 conference La colonizzazione etrusca in Italia). Emphasis has been on ‘exotic’ goods at Ligurian sites, with two sources proposed, Etruscans in the central Po plain (e.g. Gambari & Venturino Gambari) or Etruscan Genoa and the Tyrhennian seaboard (e.g. Pearce). I shall transcend these approaches by examining the contexts of imports, and take a diachronic approach to transformations within Ligurian society (ceramic technology, settlement hierarchy, status in tomb groups), focusing on issues of identity and agency. Going beyond the emphasis on typology and chronology, I shall achieve a step-change in research on Etruscan-Ligurian relations, using the artefacts to elucidate its social and ideological context.



Supervisors and Institution(s):

Mark Pearce (University of Nottingham)

Colin Haselgrove (University of Leicester)


Image supplied courtesy of The University of Nottingham ©




Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


      • Paper "From the Baltic to the Mediterranean: Ancient Liguria and the amber exchange network"

  • 2018-2019
    • Poster presentation at the 53rd Scientific Meeting of the Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria, Genoa 16th-18th October 2018
    • Co-organisation of the annual Central Mediterranean Prehistory Workshop, University of Nottingham 29th May 2019
    • Forthcoming paper at the international conference "Don Gaetano Chierici a 200 anni dalla nascita", Reggio Emilia 19th-21st September 2019





February-March 2019: Research placement at the Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie und Provinzialrömisch Archäologie (LMU University of Munich), under the supervision of Prof Carola Metzner-Nebelsick

Teaching Activities:


2017-2018 & 2018-2019:

  • "Mysterious, superstitious pirates: the Etruscans beyond the stereotype". Lectures for the module "The Living and the Dead"
  • Lecture on "Post-excavation and Publication" and practical sessions for the module "Understanding the Past:Introduction to Archaeology"
  • "Working with monographs". Workshops for the module "Understanding the Past:Introduction to Archaeology"
  • Practical sessions for the module "Understanding the Past:Introduction to Archaeology"


Past projects:

2014 The Northern Dongola Reach Survey (Sudan)

The British Museum (Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan) and Sudan Archaeological Research Society (Director: D. Welsby)

The project consisted in conducting a detailed contour survey of the ancient town of Kawa, one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Sudan, which was occupied for nearly two millennia from the fourteenth century BC. Activities included excavating and planning buildings, and investigating the adjacent cemetery.

2009 - 2010 Bliesbruck-Reinheim Project (France)

University of Parma and Department of Moselle (Directors: Prof. S. Santoro, J.P. Petit)

Archaeological excavation in the public area of the small settlement of Bliesbruck (Moselle). Following the result of geophysics survey, the investigation was run with the aim to explore a building with the shape of a horseshoe open towards east. The architectural features of the building, as well as its position in the centre of the forum in front of the public baths, suggested a function as a monumental fountain or as a nymphaeum, built at the end of the III century AD.


2006-2008 Italian Archaeological Mission in Durres (Albania)

University of Parma and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Albania with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the program PASARP UNOPS United Nations for the development of human resources in Albania. (Directors: Prof. S. Santoro, A. Hoti)

Technical and scientific cooperation project between Italy and Albania with the aim of preserving the archaeological heritage of the city. In particular the project involved the research and restoration of the Roman amphitheater of the city of Durres. During 2005, 2006 and 2008 surveys were carried out and archaeological excavations targeted ascertain the geometry of the building and to the knowledge of the phases of abandonment and destruction.


Name: Elisa Vecchi

PhD: Archaeology 

University email address:



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About me:

I'm an archaeologist with experience of fieldwork within both the commercial and research environments. I have worked in various countries with international teams on sites ranging from prehistory to post-medieval.
I have a solid background in Mediterranean Archaeology and my area of expertise are the  pre-Roman Cultures of the Italian peninsula and Etruscan Archaeology. My current research focuses on the definition of ethnicity in the late prehistory with the use of the Ligurians as a case study.
I have worked with different museums (Musei Civici di Reggio Emilia, Museo Archeologico di Torino, British Museum) taking part in cataloging, research and outreach activities.
My interests range from fieldwork to theoretical research, with particular attention to sharing information with the non professional audience.



Other Research Interests:

  • Field Archaeology and Excavation Techniques
  • Mediterranean Archaeology
  • Material Studies
  • History of Archaeology
  • Women in Archaeology
  • Archaeology and Politics



  • EAA (European Association of Archaeologists)

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