Archaeologists Discover 2,500-Year-Old Slab Bearing Lost Language

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Source: Smithsonianmag.com

Source: Smithsonianmag.com

Everyone knows Italy’s ancient past – the Romans. We learn about it in history class and thousands of books have been written on the culture. But what about who came before the Romans? What kind of people were there? A new discovery may help provide our best clue yet to this lost civilization.

Before the Romans, this lost civilization dominated Italy. However, not much is known about these people, their customs, or even their language. They are called the Etruscans and archaeologists at Mugello Valley Archaeological Project just unearthed an ancient Etruscan slab that may provide insight into their language and culture.

The slab is around 2,500 years old and from 6th century BCE, according to a press release. The 500-pound, four feet by two feet slab has 70 “legible characters and punctuation marks” which could be the key to unlocking this lost language.

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The press release says the slab was uncovered from an Etruscan temple and could provide details about gods or goddesses they worshiped.

“This is probably going to be a sacred text, and will be remarkable for telling us about the early belief system of a lost culture that is fundamental to western traditions,” Gregory Warden, archaeologist, co-director, and principle investigator of the site, said.

What is known about the Etruscans is that they were one of the most religious ancient cultures ever, with religion dominating their way of life – that’s why this slab could mean everything, if it can be translated.

“We know how Etruscan grammar works, what’s a verb, what’s an object, some of the words,” Warden said. “But we hope this will reveal the name of the god or goddess that is worshiped at this site.”

The Archaeological Project has been digging for two decades at this site, but had never made a discovery as big as this.

Source: Smithsonianmag.com

Source: Smithsonianmag.com

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