“Etruscan sanctuaries are often dedicated to more than one deity. And we have possible indications that the cult may have changed in nature. As always, you answer one question but raise many more,” Warden added.
Science news site Discovery News covered a new discovery from the SMU-sponsored dig at Poggio Colla, a key settlement in Italy for the ancient Etruscan civilization. Archaeologists previously found a 2500-year-old slab in the foundation of a monumental temple at the dig, and have determined now that sacred text on the stele, as it’s called, mentions the name “Uni,” an Etruscan fertility goddess.
The article, “Etruscan Inscription Reveals Name of Goddess,” published online Aug. 25.
Leading the project, which has been underway for more than two decades, is archaeologist Gregory Warden, professor emeritus at SMU. Warden is co-director and principal investigator of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which made the discovery.
The Mugello Valley archaeologists are announcing discovery of the goddess Uni at an exhibit in Florence on Sept. 2, “Scrittura e culto a Poggio Colla, un santuario etrusco nel Mugello,” and in a forthcoming article in the scholarly journal Etruscan Studies.
The name of a powerful goddess of fertility has emerged from a 2,500-year-old inscribed slab, revealing what might be the longest Etruscan inscription on stone.
Written in the puzzling Etruscan language, the stone bears the name of Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon — basically the equivalent to the Greek goddess Hera and the Roman Juno.
Weighing about 500 pounds and nearly four feet tall by two feet wide, the sandstone slab, or stele, was discovered some months ago during the final stages of two decades of digging at Poggio Colla, some 22 miles miles north-east of Florence in the Mugello Valley.
It was found embedded in the foundations of a stone temple.
The 6th century B.C. slab is heavily abraded and chipped and contains text, written right to left, of more than 120 characters. It is divided into words by means of three vertically aligned dots.
“Cleaning at a restoration center in Florence has allowed better visibility of the inscribed signs, making it possible to identify a larger sequence of letters and words,” Adriano Maggiani, a former professor at the University of Venice and one of the scholars working to decipher the inscription, told Discovery News.
“The presence in the inscription of the name Uni suggests the text has a religious character,” he added.