A sacred Estruscan text has been discovered in Tuscany, Italy. The archaeologists who made the discovery refer its origin back to the 6th century BCE.
The inscription was spotted amidst the foundations of an ancient temple by archaeologists from the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project at the Poggio Colla site. Known as a stele, it is made up of a 225-kilogram stone slab. It makes 1.2 meters in height and around 0.6 meters in width. It once contained a lengthy writing, but only 70 letters and punctuation marks have been left behind throughout the years for the naked eye to see.
It is hoped that the finding will help shed light on the Etruscan lifestyle. The text might divulge details about the pantheon of gods and the language spoken at that time. The names of the worshipped entities might also be revealed, according to the researchers; thus, the creed of one of the most prominent of ancient western civilisations might be brought to light.
What was the Etruscan civilisation all about? They are said to have had strong influence back in the day, from around 800 to 400 BCE, in most of northern Italy. They constitute the civilisation to which the founding of the flourishing cities of Florence, Pisa, and Rome is attributed.
Etruscan lifestyle was unveiled to us through grave inscriptions and similar funerary objects. Researchers have been able to use these pieces of evidence to make sense of the Etruscan language. However, they only got to know the basics therefrom, specially that longer texts had not been discovered; as one of the investigators, Gregory Warden, points out, long inscriptions are rare. This is why the newly-discovered stele is expected to fill in some of the gaps.
The stele will be preserved at the Tuscan Archaeological Superintendency based in Florence. It will be subjected to techniques like photogrammetry and laser scanning to decipher the rest of the letters that are otherwise inconspicuous.