Archaeologists in Italy have just discovered a 2,500-year-old artifact of Etruscan culture, which might shed new light upon the language and the religion of the ancient civilization. The large sandstone slab was created sometime in the 6th century BC, and if researchers are able to read it, they will surely uncover some interesting details about the Etruscan culture.
Having been buried for more than 2,500 years, the stone was unearthed in Tuscany, from an ancient Etruscan temple. The slab weighs about five hundred pounds and displays seventy letters accompanied by punctuation marks. Archaeologists believe the texts contains important details about the religion of the Etruscan civilization.
The discovery itself hold great importance because very few such artifacts were preserved with the passing of time. The knowledge of Etruscan language is extremely limited, and researchers might only decipher texts written on funerary stones. However, for understanding the text on the newly discovered artifact, the archaeologists need a more thorough understanding of the letters and words of the Etruscans.
Mugello Valley Archaeological Project principal investigator and co-director Gregory Warden, who is also a professor at the Franklin University Switzerland, has stated that all researchers hope to decipher the text, especially given the rarity of Etruscan artifacts. In spite of the difficulties they are facing, the archaeologists know that the slab is not a funerary stone.
The team believes that the words might hold valuable information on Etruscan culture and religion, and thus about the Romans themselves who assumed many aspects from the ancient civilization. According to Jean MacIntosh Turfa, Etruscan scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum,
“Inscriptions of more than a few words, on permanent materials, are rare for the Etruscans, who tended to use perishable media like linen cloth books or wax tablets. This stone stele is evidence of a permanent religious cult with monumental dedications, at least as early as the Late Archaic Period, from about 525 to 480 BCE.”
While the stone is a standing proof of the existence of Etruscan religion, it can also shed light on more details about the faith of the civilization. Until now, most of the information archaeologists have on the matter is related to burying the dead. They hope the new artifact will reveal what gods the Etruscans believed in since they already know the basic grammar of the language.
University of Texas archaeologist and professor Ingrid Edlund-Berry from Austin has pointed out that any addition to our current limited knowledge of the Etruscan culture is a welcome addition. An interesting aspect about the stone is that is was found beyond the walls of a building, which suggests it has been used multiple times.
Image Source: ferrebeekeeper.wordpress.com
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