The inscription might express the laws of the sanctuary, Warden said, perhaps outlining the ceremonies that took place there. Archaeologists have deciphered another word on the tablet, “Tina,” which refers to the head god of the Etruscan Pantheon (much like Zeus for the Greeks).
Science reporter Stephanie Pappas 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, “Goddess’s Name Inscribed in Lost Language on Ancient Tablet,” published Aug. 26.
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.
By Stephanie Pappas
An ancient tablet recently unearthed in Tuscany has revealed its first secret: the engraved name of a goddess linked to fertility.
The 500-pound (227 kilograms) stone slab, or stele, was unearthed earlier this year at Poggio Colla, a sixth century B.C. site built by the Etruscans. The stele bears a long inscription in a language that has not been used for 2,500 years, project archaeologist Gregory Warden, a professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told Live Science in April.
Now, translation is underway and archaeologists have discovered that the tablet references the goddess Uni.
“We can at this point affirm that this discovery is one of the most important Etruscan discoveries of the last few decades,” Warden said in a statement. “It’s a discovery that will provide not only valuable information about the nature of sacred practices at Poggio Colla, but also fundamental data for understanding the concepts and rituals of the Etruscans, as well as their writing and perhaps their language.”