Chiusi è un comune di 8.826 abitanti della provincia di Siena, 77 km a sudest del capoluogo, nella Val di Chiana. Nota come Camars, fu la città più potente della dodecapoli etrusca (sec. VII-VI aC). Nel 296 aC divenne stazione militare romana con il nome di Clusium.
Le prime testimonianze scritte di Chiusi risalgono al periodo ellenico, quando, in un documento di Polibio (storico greco - Megalopoli ca. 200 -ca. 120 aC), compare il nome della città di Chiusi in relazione alle invasioni dei Celti. Seguono poi i racconti su personaggi come Arunte e re Porsenna che nel VI secolo aC conquistò Roma.
Servio descrive Chiusi come una delle più antiche città etrusche, fondata da Cluso, figlio di Tirreno. Quella di Servio è una voce tarda, anche se una ricostruzione logica di fatti a lui vicini è basata sul nome latino della città Clusium, corrispondente a quello etrusco di Clevsin.
Chiusi divenne una delle città della dodecapoli etrusca nel VI secolo aC. A questo periodo risalgono i primi contatti registrati con la neonata Roma contro cui, un'alleanza di Chiusi con Arezzo, Volterra, Vetulonia e Roselle, venne in aiuto ai Latini per sconfiggere Tarquinio Prisco.
Catacomba di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria
Catacomba di Santa Mustiola
Cattedrale di San Secondiano
Chiesa di San Francesco
Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella
Chiesa di Sant'Apollinare
Chiesa di Santo Stefano
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace
Chiesa di San Leopoldo (Dolciano)
Chiesa di San Piero Apostolo (Macciano)
Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Maria (Querce al Pino)
Chiesa di Santa Maria Bambina (Montallese)
Labirinto di Porsenna
Museo Archeologico Nazionale Etrusco della Città di Chiusi
Torre Beccati Questo e Torre Beccati Quello
Tomba della Pellegrina
Tomba della Scimmia
Tomba del Leone
Tomba del Granduca
Ipogeo di Poggio Gaiella
Tomba di Vigna Grande
Tomba del Colle Casuccini
Tomba della Tassinaia
Tomba del Poggio al Moro
Labirinto di Porsenna
Il Labirinto di Porsenna (condottiero della fine del VI sec aC) è un tipo di labirinto definito di tipo italico. Si tratta di una serie di cunicoli sotterranei che si diramano per tutta la parte vecchia di Chiusi e sono in piccola parte aperti alle visite turistiche. Simili cunicoli si trovano anche in altre città dell'Italia centrale (Perugia, Orvieto, Todi) e sembra fossero destinate al drenaggio dell'acqua piovana.
Secondo Plinio il labirinto era parte di un monumento (con un basamento di 90 metri di lato) che costituiva il sepolcro di Porsenna re di Chiusi. È un antico sistema idrico scavato dagli Etruschi tra il 500 e il 400 aC, erroneamente definito "Labirinto di Porsenna" dagli archeologi che negli anni '20 avevano trovato i primi tunnel. Infatti gli studiosi credevano di avere trovato uno dei quattro labirinti descritti da Plinio. I cunicoli si diramano fino alla cisterna Etrusco-Romana, chiamata così per la sua epoca (romana) e per il modo in cui è stata costruita (etrusca)
Porsenna sarebbe stato sepolto con un tesoro favoloso consistente in un carro trainato da 4 cavalli in scultura d'oro, con un sarcofago anch'esso d'oro, e una chioccia con 5000 pulcini d'oro. Plinio il Vecchio nella sua Naturalis Historia riporta la notizia di Varrone sull'esistenza di un favoloso Mausoleo di Porsenna:
« Namque et Italicum dici convenit, quem fecit sibi Porsina, rex Etruriae, sepulchri causa, simul ut externorum regum vanitas quoque Italis superetur. Sed cum excedat omnia fabulositas, utemur ipsius M. Varronis in expositione ea verbis: Sepultus sub urbe Clusio, in quo loco monimentum reliquit lapide quadrato quadratum, singula latera pedum tricenum, alta quinquagenum. in qua basi quadrata intus labyrinthum inextricabile, quo si quis introierit sine glomere lini, exitum invenire nequeat. Supra id quadratum pyramides stant quinque, quattuor in angulis et in medio una, imae latae pedum quinum septuagenum, altae centenum quinquagenum, ita fastigatae, ut in summo orbis aeneus et petasus unus omnibus sit inpositus, ex quo pendeant exapta catenis tintinabula, quae vento agitata longe sonitus referant, ut Dodonae olim factum. Supra quem orbem quattuor pyramides insuper singulae stant altae pedum centenum. supra quas uno solo quinque pyramides. quarum altitudinem Varronem puduit adicere; fabulae Etruscae tradunt eandem fuisse quam totius operis ad eas, vesana dementia, quaesisse gloriam inpendio nulli profuturo, praeterea fatigasse regni vires, ut tamen laus maior artificis esset.» (Naturalis historia xxxvi.19.91-93)
« Secondo le parole di M. Varrone: il re Porsenna giace sepolto nel sottosuolo della città di Clusium, sotto un monumento di pietre squadrate, largo 300 piedi e alto 50. Le fondamenta rettangolari e uniformi celano un intricato labirinto dal quale nessuno può trovare uscita senza un filo d’Arianna. Su queste fondamenta si alzano cinque piramidi, quattro agli angoli e una al centro. Sulla cima, ognuna reca un disco di bronzo da cui pendono campanelle appese a catene che lungamente risuonano a ogni alito di vento. Sopra il disco si ergono altre 4 piramidi ciascuna alta 100 piedi. Sopra la seconda serie di 4 piramidi vi è una piattaforma dalla quale si ergono altre 5 piramidi, della cui altezza Varrone non precisa.»
Clusium was an ancient city in Italy, one of several found at the site. The current municipality of Chiusi (Tuscany) partly overlaps this Roman walled city. The Roman city remodeled an earlier Etruscan city, Clevsin, found in the territory of a prehistoric culture, possibly also Etruscan or proto-Etruscan. The site, located in northern central Italy on the west side of the Apennines, is certainly that of Clusium and Clevsin, despite some doubts. No one else in the long history of the city has ever questioned its location, which has always been commonly known.
Origin in prehistory
The origin of Clusium is lost in prehistory. By the time it appears in the Livy's History, it is already a major Etruscan city being petitioned for assistance against the republican partisans of Rome. About its life prior to that time, Livy only makes a brief statement (10.25) that it was once called Camars.
Etruscan cities seemed suddenly to spring into existence without prior tradition at about 600 BC, when the orientalizing period began. A rich art and architecture then manifested itself, not unlike the orientalizing period in neighboring Hellas. The orientalizing began in coastal Etruria and rapidly spread inland over the territory of the previous iron age Villanovan culture. The latter had appeared before 1000 BC and spread over the entire range of the later Etruscans.
The artifacts of the Villanovan are like those of central Europe. Whether the people or only the culture came from there has not been finally determined, nor has the ethnicity of the people. The two main theories are that they were proto-Italics or proto-Etruscans.
Villanovan pottery had been found at Chiusi. One common type is an urn for the ashes resulting from cremation dating to the 8th century BC. The urns are in the shape of wattle-and-daub huts with thatched roofs, presumably the homes of the deceased. This style of architecture is so different from classical Etruscan that many Etruscologists have denied a continuity. On the other hand, it is clear that the people of the region received a strong impetus from Greek colonies such as Cumae and from Greek immigration.
urn from a tomb near Chiusi
now in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden - Holland
The minority theory is currently the Proto-Italic. In this theory, Etruscans from the coast or from the Aegean resettled and renamed an Umbrian city called Camars, which the exponents believe means "marshland" in Italic. On enclosing the city with a wall they changed the name to "enclosure", using an Etruscanized form, Clevsin, of the perfect passive participle, clusus, of Latin cludere, "to close".
The theory leaves a few loose ends. Chiusi is situated on a hill in the uplands, far from the marshes of Latium. Moreover, if the Etruscans were dominant enough to take a city away from the Italics, why, speaking Etruscan, would they assign it another Italic name?
The ethnic question is more properly given consideration in the main article on the Etruscans. The majority view sees the Villanovan as proto-Etruscan, altered and thrown into preeminence by a Hellenic impetus. Italics are associated with hill cultures to the south, where they first appear in history. Italic Umbria is later than the Etruscan.
Clevsin and Camars are more comfortable in their Etruscan milieu as Etruscan words. The limited known Etruscan vocabulary gives us camthi, the name of a magistracy, which might be segmented cam-thi, where –thi is a known locative ending. Ar, -arasi, -aras are plural endings of different cases. A cleva is an offering. S and -isi are genitive and dative endings. A place of magistracies or offerings is entirely harmonious with Etruscan culture and the uses of a regional capital city. The final resolution of the question waits for more evidence.
Chiusi is situated on a hill above the valley of the Clanis river near lake Clusium, both of which features had those names in antiquity. The Clanis is part of the Tiber drainage system and was navigable by boat from there. Rome was also accessed by the via Cassia, which was built over an Etruscan road.
A deity called Mater Matuta - Mother Fertility - by Romans
Museo Archeologico Nazionale - Florence
The site of ancient Clusium was reoccupied in Roman and later times, obscuring and obliterating much of the Etruscan layers. For example, the ancient sources describe the tomb of Lars Porsena at Clusium as well as the sacking and levelling of the city by Sulla. Much of what remains are its tombs and its underground passages, some of which might have been associated with the monument to Porsena.
Lars Porsena, king (or lucumo) of Clevsin, decided not to restore the Tarquin monarchy, but fostered a republic instead. Even then Clevsin was a major city of the Etruscan League. The Etruscan League was a legendary confederacy between twelve cities of Etruria. They met at the fanum Voltumnae ("temple of Voltumna") at Velzna (Volsinii) once a year to choose a leader. The league usually achieves a place in the history of ancient Italy, but the sources (mainly Livy) mention two other leagues of twelve cities each that do not; one in Campania and one in the Po Valley. The total number of major Etruscan cities in Italy according to the sources is thus 36.
The Italic theory of the Villanovan Culture asks us to believe a socio-political impossibility: that around 600 BC a massive migration of Etruscans from the Aegean landed on the coast of Etruria and took the west half of Italy down to Campania as well as the Po Valley from the Italics, building 36 cities and innumerable smaller settlements, forming into three confederacies and taking over Rome as well. And yet, if that is not what happened, then the Villanovan is clearly proto-Etruscan.
Even legend accords all the time from the Trojan War to the founding of Rome for the rise of the Etruscans. The league was founded by Tyrrhenus, a character from the time of Aeneas, who fought in the Trojan War. Clusium was one of the Etruscan cities said by Virgil to have assisted Aeneas in his efforts. This Clusium can only have been Villanovan.
Questions of classical dating usually arrive at pottery as a bottom line and that is true of Clusium as well. A characteristic pottery of the 7th century BC (about 650-600), Bucchero ware, was manufactured there. Imported and imitated Corinthian pottery of all phases are represented at Clusium. The earliest is the Geometric style, 1000-700 BC, at Corinth.
Apparently, the Etruscans were an indigenous people who became influenced by Greek culture after Mycenaean times, reaching a crescendo by 600 BC, after which Rome came to prevail. Very likely, the Camars phase and the wattle-and-daub houses were before 1000 BC.
Clusium only appears in Roman history in episodes. Centuries after Tyrrhenus, Etruscan families were ruling Rome. Lars Porsena was lucumo (king) at Clevsin. He was dragged into the struggle between the ruling Tarquin family of Rome and the politically unhappy gentes, who wanted to replace monarchy with a republic.
The sources are elusive. Apparently Clusium, Arretium, Volaterrae, Rusellae and Vetulonia, all Etruscan cities, were conspiring to support the republicans. And yet, when the Tarquins were driven from Rome they demanded and received refuge at Clevsin.
Lars Porsena marched on Rome with an army and a divided mind. Lack of resolve perhaps contributed to his not taking the Pons Sublicius bridge defended by Horatius Cocles. In legend, he either took the city but turned it over to the republicans, or declined to prosecute the war further (being so impressed with Horatius' bravery). Porsena is said to have sent his son, Aruns, to take Aricia, but the expedition failed and Aruns was killed. Clusium then vanished from history for a few hundred years.
Figure from the Etruscan Museum of Chiusi
Pliny the Elder wrote that a magnificent tomb was built for Porsena; a large mausoleum surrounded by cascades of pyramids over a labyrinth of underground chambers in which an intruder could get lost. Pliny never saw this tomb, so his description was based on a report from Varro and perhaps a conflated comparison to the Minoan labyrinths he describes before this tomb. Large-size tumuli of the late archaic period were built at Chiusi, and modern scholars have tried to associate these (especially Poggio Gaiella) with the legendary tomb of Porsena.
Recently there was an attempt to relocate ancient Clusium to an unexplored site closer to Florence. The site (Gonfienti) has the virtue of being possible in size and structure and of being unexplored. Perhaps some evidence more definitive than what currently exists will come to light.
A Roman ally
In the early 4th century BC (391 BC according to Varronian chronology) it was besieged by Gauls, and the Clusines called upon Rome to intermediate. However, in the following negotiations, one of the Roman delegates, of the gens Fabia, killed a Gallic leader. When the Romans refused to hand over the Fabii and in fact appointed two members of the family as consuls for the next year, the enraged Gauls broke up their siege and under the leadership of Brennus they marched onto and subsequently sacked Rome.