Archaeologists have become closer to unraveling the main mystery of Europe

Nikita Bizin

In Italy, several valuable artifacts associated with the Etruscans were discovered at once. Little is known about this people, scientists are still arguing about its origin, beliefs and traditions. Ab-out the mystery of ancient civilization – in the material of RIA Novosti.
The handwriting of a master
The first scientific sensation took place in the spa town of San Casciano dei Bagni in Tuscany . Since 2019, an ancient Roman bath complex has been excavated here. The work was complicated by the peculiarities of the soil – it was painfully swampy.
Imagine the surprise of archaeologists from the University of Siena when, on November 8, heads, hands, and then whole bodies appeared from under the water and mud. A total of 24 bronze sculptures.
Specialists dated them to the II-I centuries BC. But during this period, the Romans did not know how to create such masterpieces and limited themselves only to clay sculptures.
The first discovery was followed almost immediately by the second. A joint scientific group from the University of Freiburg ann-ounced on November 10 that they had found a monumental temple complex of the 6th century BC in the city of Vulci (Lazio region).
And again the question is: the Romans could not e-rect such a structure, beca-use at that time they were at a lower level of development, so who left such va-luable artifacts? In both ca-ses, scientists answered wi-thout hesitation: the Etrusc-ans. This people lived on the Apennine Peninsula long before the Latins.
“The fact is that both Lazio and Tuscany are areas where the ethnic group historically lived. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the finds belong to the Etruscan culture,” said Jacobo Tabolli, coordinator of the excavations, associate professor at the University of Siena.
Besides, he added, the craftsmen had left clues. On the ruins of the temple and on the bronze statues there are unusual letters resembling the Latin alphabet. The experienced eye of a specialist easily determined that this was the Etruscan language.
Therefore, Tabolli concluded, it will soon be possible to learn much more about one of the ancient cultures.
Favorably located
However, the facts contradict the optimism of the scientist. Despite the fact that the Etruscans have been studied for several centuries, it is still impossible to understand what this people was like.
Today, science knows that the Etruscans appeared on the territory of the Apennine Peninsula in the 9th century BC. They occupied the northern regions, where forests grew, there was a lot of building stone, clay, tin, iron, coal.
Therefore, in a short time – in just three centuries – Etruria turned into a progressive civilization with a high level of craftsmanship, successful agriculture and developed metallurgy.
Economic prosperity strengthened statehood, and by the 6th century Etruria had become a conglomeration of 12 cities. A powerful political entity, however, practically did not wage wars, but, on the contrary, actively adopted the experience of its neighbors.
With the beginning of the rise of Rome in the 4th century, the Etruscans gradually lose control over their territories. And by the end of the century, references to the once great power are becoming less and less common.
Not much in common
The mysterious disappearance is one of the questions that concern researchers. But much more interesting is the origin of the Etruscans. For a long time, the migration version prevailed.
So, in the writings of the ancient Greek historian He-rodotus, the Etruscans are spoken of as coming from Lydia (a historical region in Asia Minor). Due to a catastrophic crop failure and famine, they left their ho-meland and moved to the Apennine Peninsula. Acco-rding to the father of history, this happened at the sa-me time as the Trojan War.
But the Roman chronicler Titus Livy believed that the Etruscans came to the Apennines from the north. There is a third version: civilization was autochthonous. The hypotheses were tested only a few years ago.
In 2009, Italian paleogeneticists compared the D-NA of the current inhabitants of Tuscany with samples from Etruscan tombs. The results showed that bo-th groups have a high deg-ree of kinship with the mo-dern population of Asia Minor.
However, ten years later, colleagues from the University of Tübingen decided to repeat the study .
“We expanded the sample. In particular, we took material from 82 representatives of the Etruscan civilization who lived in the period from 800 to 100 AD. It turned out that there was no genetic connection between the Etruscans and immigrants from Asia . On the contrary, their genetic profile spoke about the similarity with the Latins – the progenitors of the Romans,” explained Casimo Posta, professor at the University of Tübingen.
Access code
No less difficult for scientists is the language of the Etruscans. During the years of excavations, archaeologists have discovered many clay and bronze tablets, funerary inscriptions on sarcophagi. All of them are covered with mysterious signs, but it has not yet been possible to decipher them completely.
As already mentioned, outwardly the writings of the Etruscans resemble Latin ones. Some texts even contain the names of ancient deities – Minerva, Jupiter, Juno.
“But they appear only on artifacts from the decline of Etruria. Presumably, the process of assimilation was actively going on then. Therefore, in the new realities, the Etruscans renamed their gods in the Roman manner,” says Gregory Warden, professor of archeology at the Swiss College.
A real sensation was the ritual stele, which was discovered in 2016 during the excavations of one of the E-truscan sanctuaries. The ar-tifact was dated to the 7th century, when there was no talk of any Roman influence.
Work on deciphering the stele continues to this day. “This is not a tombstone that we have found before. Therefore, we hope to learn new words,” Warden explained. Over the years, however, only 70 characters out of nearly 2,000 have been identified.
According to experts, t-he Etruscan culture remains a secret behind seven seals and seems to deliberately keep its secrets from the prying eyes of scientists.