The Terramare were a Bronze Age people living in northern Italy and named after their distinctive settlements called terremare (singular "terramara"). Flourishing between 1600 and 1200 BC, the Terramare were the first people in the area to systematically modify the environment for their system of agriculture. They lived in the wetlands of the southern plains of the Po Valley, in what is now Emilia Romagna. This region is prone to flooding from the River Po, which means that as well as the risk of being washed away, the silt from the river produces fertile farmland.
Prior to their arrival from north of the Alps, much of the area was deciduous forest, and they chopped down the oak trees to clear the farmland where they planted their crops, which included wheat, vines and beans. Their settlements had a rectangular or trapezoidal shape, built upon piles (even in areas where flooding was unlikely) and commonly protected by earthworks and a moat. They appear to have thrown their rubbish between the piles under their houses. A network of artificial channels around the settlements provided a flow of fresh water. Later in their history these settlements became increasingly fortified.
Unlike the Etruscans and other later cultures, they left no writing. It is uncertain what language they spoke, although it may have been of the Indo-European family; however, like Etruscan, it may have been something else entirely. They did leave behind a large amout of archaeological relics, including pottery and tools made of bronze, bone and wood, and clay statues of people and animals (which are perhaps the earliest examples of Italian sculpture). The remains of some of their settlements and earthworks have also been found, and the rounded tops of their refuse piles (or "kitchen middens") were initially mistaken for burial mounds by archaeologists. They cremated their dead, placing the ashes in urns which were buried near their settlements in cemeteries called urnfields.
The Terramare civilisation disappeared by the start of the first millennium BC, swamped by newer tribes such as the Villanovans, Veneti, Liguri and Itali.
Note to editors: the spelling Terramare appears to be usual for the tribe, while the plural terremare is used for their dwellings. (Feel free to correct any other typos.)