Momigliano's astonishment at the rapid transformation of ‘Villanovan’ Etruria into a network of cities sounds anachronistic today, as research during the last few decades has brought to light the longevity of processes that led to this transformation. Yet, although there is agreement on the longevity of these processes and the stages through which they unfolded, as I briefly summarise in Chapter I, a key question remains to be answered: was the new sociopolitical organisation of the large protourban communities the cause or result of their formation? In other words, was the sociopolitical organisation of these communities already in place when they came together, or did it develop once dispersed smaller communities came to form a larger single one? This is not a simple issue of chronology; it also bears on the question on the socioeconomic complexity of Final Bronze Age settlements and its role on later developments. If we answer the question by sustaining the former option, we must necessarily recognise that Final Bronze Age settlements were characterised by a high level of complexity, which we need to take into account in order to understand the new sociopolitical organization of protourban communities. According to some scholars, the socioeconomic organisation of these settlements was, in fact, so advanced that the occupation of large plateaux by smaller communities may have been a joint venture involving a clear plan of occupation of the landscape.
Conversely, if we answer our fundamental question by taking the second stance and thus argue for a denser and larger community coming together to establish a complex production and exchange system and engendering new forms of sociopolitical relations, we emphasise sociopolitical integration at the basis of urbanisation. This is, in fact, borne out by contemporary burial evidence, as we shall see in the course of this chapter. Yet, it is not until the seventh century that elite burials disclosed an additional indication of the community becoming urban: accessibility to resources and to a wider world. In the course of this chapter, I argue that this is a key aspect of urbanisation, which the elites made public and publicised in the tomb through an Orientalising material culture, as I discuss in the following chapter, and which they exploited to affirm political authority, as I argue in Chapter VI.