Etruscans: Part 1
Etruscans: Part 2
"In the eight century BC, time of westward expansion, Phoenicians going west, Greeks going west, founding colonies. When the Greeks sailed into Italy, they found something they didn't expect. An advanced civilization already there." --Professor Richard E. Prior, Ancient Historian, Furman University, South Carolina, from the documentary 'Rome: Power & Glory'
As has been stated here before, the perception is that Rome more-or-less came from the Greeks. The truth is a lot different. As the above quote reflects, the Etruscans were trendsetters on thier own. That doesn't mean that, in many ways, the Greeks weren't the forerunners of what later became Western civilization. However, in most areas of human endeavor, the Etruscans were the equal to the Greeks. They apparently were not looking to expand, as they already were in a virtual Garden of Eden. They were not sea faring people. They conducted a lot of land trading, with the north mostly, it appears.
After the Romans shattered the Etruscans, as the victors always do, they rewrote the history. Until fairly recently, the Etruscans didn't even exist in the history books. Now we know that the Romans took Etruscan technology and began to form their plan for an empire. They leveled the vast majority of what had been Etruscan.