The few examples of Etruscan language that survive tell more about the dead than the everyday lives of the living, being mostly eulogies in tombs of the elite. The longest known text — and the only linen work to make it to the modern age — is a calendar reused in the binding of an Egyptian mummy. So the recent discovery of a four-foot high, 500-pound sandstone stele at Poggio Colla northeast of Florence that has around 70 legible letters and punctuation marks is huge for the study of this ancient civilization.
Southern Methodist University (SMU), the main sponsor of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project which unearthed the stone in the foundation of a temple, announced the find this week. Jean MacIntosh Turfa, an Etruscan scholar with the University of Pennsylvania Museum, stated in the release that “[i]nscriptions 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.”
Over the coming months, according to SMU, researchers with the University of Florence will be examining and conserving the sixth century BCE stone, using laser scanning and photogrammetry to gain a better view of the inscription. Being that it was found at a temple, salvaged for its foundation some 2,500 years ago, it’s likely the writing may relate to religion, potentially filling in gaps in historic knowledge of Etruscan practices.
Theresa Huntsman of Washington University writes for the Metropolitan Museum of Art that there “are no known parent languages to Etruscan, nor are there any modern descendants, as Latin gradually replaced it, along with other Italic languages, as the Romans gradually took control of the Italian peninsula.” In other words, deciphering Etruscan can still be difficult, as no literature or major written work still exists, and although it shares characteristics with the Greek alphabet, it was distinct. For example, text was written from right to left (although early Greek was written this way). Larissa Bonfante notes in Etruscan Life and Afterlife that “[w]hat we know most about, their monuments, has to be ‘read’ in order to gain information about their history, their religion, their daily life.”
Roman emperor Claudius is known to have compiled a compendium of 20 books on Etruscan history that are now lost, and fascinating objects like the 2nd century BCE “Liver of Piacenza,” a bronze of a sheep’s liver etched with Etruscan writing, have offered fleeting glimpses of this obscured past. The stele may broaden our knowledge of this lost language, which remains one of the ancient world’s great enigmas.
h/t Ars Technica
Read more about the Etruscan stele discovery by the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project at Southern Methodist University.
As museums readily draft land acknowledgments, they should also be ready to leverage their presence and power on the land to meet the needs of their neighbors today.
Decades later, a letter written by the group has resulted in a permanent exhibition at Bosque Redondo Memorial in New Mexico.
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Assembly Required suggests it is high time to strap on a colorful mask and play with someone you don’t know — or don’t know well enough.
The pet home is on view at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, Wright’s largest public project.
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Nun cho ga, meaning “big baby animal” in the Hän language, is “the most complete mummified mammoth found in North America.
A childhood accident took her arms away but the transgender artist survived to create paintings, photography, and performances focused on depicting the body.
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
Fans of director Claire Denis should check the film out, but as an agnostic, I find it one of her few truly awful pictures.
There are 30 nations represented in the international exhibition. Some aren’t in their best moment today. A comics diary.
Some have compared her album art to John Collier’s 19th-century portrait of Lady Godiva, but Beyoncé can channel her radical spirit without evoking Western art history.