Language in Art

      Since the Etruscans left no literary works behind, each fragment of their language found on various artifacts is valuable. The longest Etruscan text known to date is the Liber Linteus of Zagreb a linen cloth found wrapped around a mummy containing approximately 1200 words. All lines are oriented from right to left but occasionally a word was broken off and the rest of this word placed above the line, from left to right. A similar sample of Etruscan writing is the Tile of Capua, which has sixty-two engraved lines utilizing the same process of Bustrophedic as the Liber Linteus. The word bustrophedic stems from Greek “buos” (ox) and “stroph” (multitude), and is used to describe ancient writing that went alternatively from right towards left or from high to low and vice versa. One of the most remarkable remnants of Etruscan language is the three famous inscribed gold foils called The Pyrgi Lamellae. The most important part of this trilogy is the bilingual pair, one foil in Etruscan and another in Phoenician, which both record the dedication to a Goddess called Astarte in Phoenician and Uni in Etruscan. Lacking full and varied texts, scholars attempting to compile a vocabulary have had to work with bits and pieces. Despite the discovery of over 10,000 inscriptions, only 200 useful words have been identified. (; Hamblin, 40-43)

The Pyrgi Lamellae: Etruscan & Phoenician Panels

Mummy & Liber Linteus of Zagreb

Tile of Capua

The Pyrgi Lamellae

Detail of a Panel of the Liber Linteus of Zagreb

Home ~ Introduction: Origins Unknown ~ Commerce & Social Structure ~ Obsession with Death ~ Scandalous Pleasures
Artistic Influences & Identity ~ Language in Art ~ Conclusion: Disappearing Culture ~ Works Cited ~ About the Author

© 2004 Jaime Kozlowski ~