Archeological evidence confirms that Volterra, ideally situated on a Pliocene ridge 541 metres above sea level, between the Cecina and Era valleys , has been favoured as a settlement since the Neothithic Age.

The Etruscan Period
From the 8th century B.C. the Etruscans began to spread out over the slopes and in the 4th century B.C. the great defensive wall, more than seven kilometres long, was erected to enclose the urban centre , arable and pasture land vital for survival during a prolonged siege.
Defended by its natural position and impregnable fortifications, the Etruscan Velathri registered a remarkable development in its economy based on the mineral deposits of copper and silver in an area rich in forests,agriculture and husbandry. Velathri became one of the twelve city states of Etruria with a territory that extended from the river Pesa to the Tyrrhenian sea and from the river Arno to the basin of the Cornia river.

The Roman Period
The last of the Etruscan Lucomons was forced to recognise the supremacy of Rome in the 3rd century B.C. after the battle of Lake Vadimone (283 B.C.) and became part of the Italic Confederacy in 260 B.C. changing its name to Volaterrae.
Relations with Rome were good. The populace expressed their solidarity during the second Punic War by supplying Consul Scipione with wheat and naval equipment and proved their loyalty during the social war which granted them the right to Roman citizenship in 90 B.C. with the Lex Julia de Civitate. A few years later, involved in the civil war between Marius and Sulla, Volterra sided with Marius. After a long bitter siege that lasted for two years (82-80 B.C.) Volterra had no choice but to surrender . The city was ferociously sacked, deprived of its citizenship and its territory declared “ager publicus”.

Cicero, a close friend of the influential Caecinae family passionately defended the city and the dictator’s sanctions were greatly reduced. Volterra continued to prosper in the last years of the century evidence of which can be seen in the urban development during this period which included the construction of the theatre and a vast residential area in the neighbourhood of Vallebona.
No important events have been recorded during the decline of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Theatre, Ith century b. C.


Porta all'Arco, Etruscan Gate, cent. IV b.C.