Italy — Archaeologists have found a 6th century BCE sandstone slab in an Etruscan temple, containing a sacred text in the Etruscan language. It could provide content about Etruscan worship of a god or goddess.
The slab is four feet tall by more than two feet wide and weighs about 500 pounds. Moreover, it features 70 legible characters such as letters and punctuation marks, said Gregory Warden, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University at Dallas (SMU), the main sponsor of the project.
The team of archaeologists predicts that this new historical piece will reveal useful information about the lost culture of the Etruscans. They explained that discovering a new religious artifact with written characters from this civilization is not very common since most Etruscan discoveries have been funerary objects.
“This is probably going to be a sacred text, and will be remarkable for telling us about the early belief system of a lost culture that is fundamental to western traditions,” said archaeologist Gregory Warden, co-director and principal investigator of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project.
Romans were very influenced by the Etruscan civilization, even in religion, art, architecture and forms of governments. SMU researchers said that Etruscans were very religious, in fact, they were governed by people who had religious authority.
Etruscans lived in the in the area corresponding majorly to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio. The significant slab was found in a monumental temple that had been buried for more than 2,500 years, in the Mugello Valley, located in the northeast of Florence Italy.
Professor Warden seems to suggest that the slab was once an “imposing monumental symbol of authority”, given its size and the characters written on it. He added that it could have been related to the early sacred life of the sanctuary there.
The team needs to study a very ancient language: writing relatively long texts was not common for the Etruscans
In the coming months, the international team will conduct photogrammetry and laser scanning to the sandstone slab, in order to obtain all the information written on the piece, in rich detail. The tasks will be carried out in the Tuscan Archaeological Superintendency in Florence.
People involved in the study know how Etruscan grammar works, Professor Warden explained that they can recognize verbs, objects and some words. However, the team hopes to discover the name of the god that was worshiped there.
“We hope to make inroads into the Etruscan language. Long inscriptions are rare, especially one this long, so there will be new words that we have never seen before, since it is not a funerary text.” said Warden, adding that The text will be rigorously studied and published by Professor Rex Wallace, expert on the Etruscan language.
The Mugello Valley has provided archaeologists with astounding information about this fascinating civilization. It appears that they have found out objects from workshops, pottery from homes, and objects about Etruscan worship, beliefs and gifts to divinities.
All these material “helps document the ritual activity” from the 7th century to the 2nd century BCE. The scientific community has said that it would be incredible to identify the name of an Etruscan god or goddess since inscriptions with more than a few characters are not common for that civilization.
Source: SMU Press Release