You are here: Home » News-IANS » Art-Culture-Books
Business Standard

Rare religious artifact in Italy may reveal Etruscan culture

IANS  |  New York 

Archaeologists in Italy have discovered what may be a rare sacred text in the lost Etruscan language that is likely to yield rich details about Etruscan worship of a god or goddess.

The lengthy text is inscribed on a large sandstone slab that was embedded in the foundations of a monumental Italian temple where it had been buried for more than 2,500 years, the researchers said.

"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, which made the discovery.

The slab, weighing about 500 pounds (227 kg) and nearly four feet tall by more than two feet wide, has at least 70 legible letters and punctuation marks, Warden, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, US, said in a statement.

Scholars in the field predict the stele as such slabs are called, will yield a wealth of new knowledge about the lost culture of the Etruscans who lived in the first millennium BC.

The Etruscan civilization once ruled Rome and influenced Romans in everything from religion to government to art to architecture.

Considered one of the most religious people of the ancient world, Etruscan life was permeated by religion, and ruling magistrates also exercised religious authority.

At one time it would have been displayed as an imposing and monumental symbol of authority, Warden said.

"We hope to make inroads into the Etruscan language," Warden said.

"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," Warden noted.

In two decades of digging, Mugello Valley Archaeological Project has unearthed objects about Etruscan worship, beliefs, gifts to divinities, and discoveries related to the daily lives of elites and non-elites, including workshops, kilns, pottery and homes.

The stele discovery will advance knowledge of Etruscan history, literacy and religious practices, Etruscan scholar Jean MacIntosh Turfa from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia, US, said.

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Wed, March 30 2016. 15:52 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU