Roman history begins deep in a richly detailed legend by the Greek writer Plutarch in the 2nd century A.D. He tells us that Aeneas, the Trojan warrior, after surviving the pillaging and destruction of Troy, sails around the Mediterranean for several years before settling with the Latins on the Italian peninsula. After some time, Aeneas marries the daughter of King Latinus. Eventually, he becomes king. Years later, their son establishes a town near present day Rome and names it Alba Longa. Aeneas's family rules the town for thirteen generations until their descendant King Numitor is dethroned by a man named Amulius. For some unknown reason, Amulius the new king, feels threatened by Numitor's twin grandsons. Due to this fear, King Amulius orders his servant to drown the twins Romulus and Remus, in the Tiber River. Instead, a miracle occurs and they wash ashore and are raised by a wolf. After, many years of living with the wolf they eventually get even by killing Amulius. Before long, the twins erect a city on the spot where the brothers were left as babies. Just a short time later Romulus kills his brother Remus, and he appoints himself king. Romulus then names the city after himself, calling it Rome.
Archaeologist tell us that they can find no evidence that suggests the story is nothing more than myth. In fact, they know that the city of Rome was occupied centuries before this date. Also, archaeologists tell us that the first major group of people to arrived in Italy, migrated from the north about 2,000 years ago. Up until then, the area we know as Italy was made up of small uncivilized tribes. This first group of migrants brought bronze tools and weapons with them. Then, sometime around 1000 B.C., a new migration from the north occurred. Many of these people settled near the present site of Rome. The best known of these were the Latins, and they had superior tools and weapons made of iron. Armed with iron weapons, one by one they rolled over the less advanced small villages that dotted the countryside. At the time, no civilization existed. The invaders called themselves the Rasena. Today, archaeologists call these people the Etrusacans. The region they occupied is now called Tuscany.
The Etruscans were organized into twelve city-states, and each had its own king. They were world class traders who traded in both raw materials and finished products. The Etruscans skillfully copied exquisite Greek vases, bronze pots, and sculptures. They were also greatly influenced by Greek architecture. Etruscan craftsmen worked in great detail with gold and other precious metals. The Romans copied the Etruscan style of government, military, and much of their religion. They also copied the Etruscan alphabet which was taken from the Greeks.
The Etruscans were at the height of their power between 700 and 500 B.C. At first, Rome was just a small group of villages, and the people or Latins as they were called, lived in thatched huts made from sticks and mud. However, during the Etruscan occupation Rome grew into a city. After more that a century of Etruscan control over Rome, the people rebelled in 509 B.C. By this time the Etruscans power was already in decline. This marked the beginning of the Roman Empire. Before long,the Romans would defeat their neighbors, taking over all of Italy. Unfortunately, the fighting would last for two more centuries.