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On Etruscan Time


On Etruscan Time. Tracy Barrett; Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2005

Grade Level: 6-8

ISBN & Cost: 0-8050-7569-0 $16.95




Eleven-year-old Hector is forced to go to Italy for the summer with his mother on an archaeological dig. He is less than excited; he’d much rather spend the summer in Tennessee with his friends. But no one listened to him. However, as he begins to become involved in the Etruscan dig, he discovers an artifact that connects him through what he thinks are dreams to an ancient Etruscan boy, Arath. Hector cannot decide if these are dreams or real experiences.


General Review:

This book will appeal to history and archeology buffs, fantasy buffs, time travel buffs, and those who just plain love a good story. During his time travel, Hector is involved in a frantic search to try to save his ancient Etruscan friend, Erath, from a plot to kill him. This is a wonderful story with lots of excitement and tension. Girls and especially boys will really enjoy this story. The author includes an author’s note about Etruscan life at the end of the book as well as an Etruscan-English Glossary. Students should be encouraged to glance through these before they read so that they have a grasp on the historical background and language of this novel.


Themes: archaeology, Etruscans, time travel, mothers/son relationships, human sacrifice, Italy.


Author Information: Tracy Barrett is an Italian language and civilization teacher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee. These interests seem to have found a new life in her book On Etruscan Time. She has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books and periodical articles for young readers. For her efforts, she has won two awards for Cold in Summer: New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age and a VOYA Best Fantasy Book. On Etruscan Time is a sequel to this book.


Tracy Barrett’s website is a good source for author and book information. Last updated 11/28/06.


Discussion Questions:

1. In the beginning Hector is sure he will hate his summer in Italy and wants to go home. How do his feelings change and why?

2. Is Hector dreaming or does he actually travel in time? Use your own ideas as well as excerpts from the book to back up your answer. Is time travel real?

3. It is obvious that Hector’s world is very different from Arath’s, but how are their worlds alike?

4. Explain how Hector’s Etruscan experiences affect his relationship with his mother.

5. Sometimes adults overlook the ideas and findings of young people. Explain the irony of this attitude toward Hector considering what he learns about Etruscans.

6. Often our lives can change drastically depending on which “road” we take in life. List some things that might happen to Hector because he has gone to Italy with his mother.



1. Find out what the process is in an archaeological dig. How is it decided where to dig, what is done next, etc? Is the information similar to what you found in On Etruscan Time? Make a list of what you knew about archaeological digs and what you learned in research. Display this information creatively on a poster board OR in a written research report. (Standard 3 Benchmark 4)

2. Find pictures of five famous fresco (affresco) paintings from any era or place and write a brief description of each. Try to include at least on Italian one. Present this to your art class. (Standard 3 Benchmark 4 and Standard 9 Benchmark 1)

3. Make a drawing of the dig site, and then using the drawing, build a 3-dimentional scene of the archaeological dig area in the book. Create the scene so that main areas of action in the book may be picked out (for example, the olive tree that Hector found the eye stone under etc.) (Standard 5 Benchmark 3)

4. Research human sacrifice. Create a poster board of information on human sacrifice and the places where you discovered it occurred and when. Include brief information and pictures. Share this information in front of the class. (Standard 3 Benchmark 2 and Standard 3 Benchmark 4)

5. Pick a scene from the story, and work together with a group of friends to write a brief play about the scene. The time travel scenes make excellent choices. For an audience, act out the scene with your group using costumes and props. Be sure the scene is accurate from the book and has a clear beginning, middle, and end. (Standard 5 Benchmark 3 and Standard 9 Benchmark 1)