Do you notice anything unusual about this passage/description about a tribal population?

Do you notice a flaw in the following description (hint: if there’s an error, then it’s in the italicized section…;))

There was once a community of Etruscan people who, between 800 and 600 BC, inhabited a zone of land that was dominated by a single large hill some 1000 feet high in what we call the Italian peninsula today. The hill had two fixed settlements, one halfway up the hill on the north side and the other halfway up the hill on the south side. Over the course of each year, they moved from the north side to the south side and back again, spending more or less half of their total lives on each side as follows; from the months of October to March they lived on the northern settlement, and when April came, they moved over to the settlement on the south side of the same hill, living there until the end of September came, whence they moved back to their north settlement, and so on.

If this description is flawed, what would you change about the description (in italics) that would make it, if not perfect, at least consistent with what you know about human behavior in response to the environment. Assume that the migration wasn’t difficult, and that the settlements were equally well stocked and the migration was voluntary.

Do you think that the community of Etruscans would live in the way that I described, or is the error that you noticed, if not corrected, describe a way of life of a community that the Etruscans during that time period, would be highly unlikely to have lived, to the level of certainty where you feel like they just wouldn’t have done that? How sure are you, percentage wise, that the Etruscans did NOT live in the particular way that I described, but did so in some different way (that doesn’t completely change the description but modifies it in a single aspect that makes the description, from that change alone, become distinctly more plausible?)

Thanks so much!

Exactly what is it that you’re questioning, the mere fact of seasonal migration? The passage gives no clue as to the reason for the migration, so it could be anything. Weather cycles? Rotation of crops? Religious rituals? Availability of wildlife? Seasonal enemies? You seem to be intent on contradicting the passage without any knowledge of the reasons for their behavior.

(Those darn Etruscans!)

Given the climate of Italy, you would probably prefer to live on the shady side (north) in summer and on the sunny side (south) in winter - although the vineyards are of course on the south side.

I didn’t spot the error, if there is one, but I found it a rather too wordy and repetitious way of saying “these people seasonally migrated back and forth between two settlements”


I also spotted the apparent north/south reversal, but I hesitate to declare that it must be an error. For all I know to the contrary, something about the livestock or the crops or whatever might have made it preferable to live on the south side of the hill in summertime.

Nice! Got it. That’s what I noticed in a similar passage, (except it was describing a hill in Spain).

Do you think this is a mistake that’s reasonable to make for some geographer/natural historian such as Pliny the Elder who was living in the Rome (and was thus familiar with the local environment and seasons) and describing the Etruscans, and whose writing has come down to our day as a reputable source, to make, or is it a mistake that would be uncharacteristic or even egregious of someone who was as knowledgeable as him? To what degree is it reasonable/egregious?

I don’t think it’s safe to assume you’d want to live on the shady side of the hill. Case in point - thisvillage (in Italy) build a big-ass mirror because they didn’t like living in shade.

My preferred explanation is that some other Etruscan population did the conventional south-side in the winter, north-side in the summer thing, while *this *population was all, “w00t! Free settlement! All we have to do is move twice a year and they’ll never know we’re mooching off their shit!”

If the reason were as simple as sunlight, you’d think this would be a common occurrence around the world, rather than one isolated instance thousands of years ago.

Most likely, they grew grapes in the summer, and raised some kind of “northerly” livestock in the winter.

there could have been another reason than simply the heat of the sun - for instance, what was the water supply? were there seasonal variations in the water supply, such that the water was used up on one side of the hill after six months of inhabitation, so they had to move to the other side? without a lot more information about the reason for the seasonal migration, it’s hard to say that there’s an error.

I noticed the same thing about the north/south reversal (wouldn’t you want to live in the north during the summer and the south during the winter), but it would also make sense if, as panache45 said, there were seasonal enemies. Perhaps there was another tribe that would usually become raiders/pirates during the cold months after the harvest and would attack the Etruscans. Perhaps the north side of the hill occupied a better strategic position and was more defendable against those enemies.

Lol, in this scenario, the Romans are peaceful hippies who would never invade the Etruscans…