Inscription on an ancient Etruscan temple stone mentioning goddess Uni

Borgo San Giovenale.jpg

The Borgo of San Giovenale, with remains of Etruscan houses and workshops.

In the 1950s and 1960s the Swedish Institute at Rome with King Gustaf VI Adolf as one of the participating archaeologists, together with the excavations of Acquarossa, and close to the modern village of Blera laid bare parts of houses which brought lots of controversy. Authorities still disagree over the nature of the site of San Giovenale and are uncertain whether the building was a palace, a sanctuary, or perhaps a place of civic assembly.

Ordinary Etruscan houses, known from a number of sites, include oval-shaped huts from San Giovenale and elsewhere and structures with a rectilinear plan from Veii and Acquarossa (Archaic) and Vetulonia (Hellenistic). The settlement is surrounded by a number of burial sites.

In 1966, near Siena excavations had been continued and got to reveal a huge building of the Archaic period (c. 600-480 bce.) with rammed earth walls, measuring about 197 feet on each side and featuring a large court in the middle. The houses were rebuilt after the eartquake of around 550-530 bce., but the 5th and the 4th centuries B.C. present an Etruscan town that is gradually diminishing. Only one house from the late 4th century bce. is known (in Area F, ”House XI”; Pohl 1985). In the Archaic period the Etruscans also built a large bridge over the brook of the Pietrisco just southeast of the Borgo. The remains of the bridge-abutments were found on either side but also on the San Giovenale side a building with several rooms with important Etruscan graffitti on pot sherds (see Forsberg 1984; Colonna & Backe Forsberg 1999; Backe Forsberg 2003).

It was adorned with life-size terra-cotta figures, male and female, human and animal; some of the figures wear a huge “cowboy” hat in the regional style.

From 1968 to 1972 Francesco Nicosia directed the first excavations of the comune (municipality) Poggio Colla,  in the Province of Florence near the town of Vicchio in Tuscany, Italy, mostly known for the painters Giotto (in the frazione of Colle di Vespignano), Fra Angelico (at Rupecanina), Tommaso di Giovanni di Simone Cassai Masaccio,  and birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Lully (Baptized Giovanni Battista Lulli), who would become the founder of the French opera tradition.

Etruscans (Tyrsenoi or Tyrrhenoi) or people of ancient Italy and Corsica whom the ancient Romans called Etrusci or Tusci, once ruled Rome and formed the most powerful nation in pre-Roman Italy, influencing that civilization in everything from religion and government to art and architecture. [The Etruscans’ name for themselves was rasna or raśna.]

As a highly cultured people, the Etruscans created the first great civilization on the peninsula, whose influence on the Romans as well as on present-day culture is increasingly recognized. They were also very religious and their belief system permeated all aspects of their culture and life. It where they who taught the Romans the alphabet and numerals, along with many elements of architecture, art, religion, and dress.

In those Etruscan settlements of that region remains of cattle, sheep/goat and pig, as well as the remains of dog and wild species were found.

In 2001 a sanctuary was found, where one hundred Roman silver victoriati were buried after the sanctuary was destroyed in the late 3rd century bce.

At Poggio Colla now there is uncovered one of the longest Etruscan texts ever found. The researchers translated a very rare inscription on the ancient Etruscan temple stone and discovered the name Uni — the name of the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon, which was later incorporated into classical Roman culture, including the Roman pantheon.

The inscription’s mention of Uni may indicate she was patroness of the Poggio Colla cult, with stone’s language spelling out ceremonial religious rituals.

Archaeologist Gregory Warden, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, main sponsor of the archaeological Mugello Valley Archaeological Project (MVAP) dig, said

“The mention is part of a sacred text that is possibly the longest such Etruscan inscription ever discovered on stone.

Warden also said that these findings reinforces the interpretation of a fertility cult at Poggio Colla.

“The location of its discovery — a place where prestigious offerings were made — and the possible presence in the inscription of the name of Uni, as well as the care of the drafting of the text, which brings to mind the work of a stone carver who faithfully followed a model transmitted by a careful and educated scribe, suggest that the document had a dedicatory character,”

said Adriano Maggiani, formerly Professor at the University of Venice and one of the scholars working to decipher the inscription.

Consisting of as many as 120 characters or more, the researchers expect to discover new words never seen before, particularly since this discovery veers from others in that it’s not a funerary text. Until now the he longest single text, of 281 lines (about 1,300 words), now in the National Museum at Zagreb, is written on a roll of linen that had been cut into strips and used in Egypt as a wrapping for a mummy; a clay tablet found at Capua contains some 250 words; a stone slab from Perugia has two adjacent sides elegantly engraved with an inscription of 46 lines (some 125 words); a bronze model of a liver found at Piacenza, which probably represents the Etruscan microcosm in a form used for instruction in divination, has some 45 words; and a heavy rectangular block found on the island of Lemnos in the northern Aegean has an engraving of what is probably a warrior with one inscription of perhaps 18 words surrounding the head and another of 16 words in three lines on an adjacent side. In 1964 two inscriptions on gold tablets, one in Phoenician and the other in Etruscan, were unearthed at Pyrgi. {Encyclopaedia Britannica}

It’s possible the text contains the dedication of the sanctuary, or some part of it, such as the temple proper, so the expectation is that it will reveal the early beliefs of a lost culture fundamental to western traditions.

The sandstone slab, which dates to the 6th century bce and is nearly four feet tall by more than two feet wide, was discovered in the final stages of two decades of digging at Mugello Valley, which is northeast of Florence in north central Italy.

According to Warden

“this discovery is one of the most important Etruscan discoveries of the last few decades. 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.”

One section of the text refers to “tina?,” a reference to Tina or Tinia, the name of the Etruscan supreme deity, god of the thunderbolt, sky, and storm.  Tinia together with his wife Uni (identified with Greek Hera, sister-wife of Zeus and Roman Juno) and Menerva (or Menrva, Roman Minerva) formed the supreme triad of the Etruscan pantheon. Tina was equivalent to ancient Greece’s Zeus or Rome’s Jupiter, the god who by Constantine became the equivalent to the Christian’s their teacher whose name had to be changed to “Hail Zeus” or ‘Issou” (Jesus) instead of keeping the rabbi’s own name Jeshua) and became for many their trinitarian god or holy Trinity.

On August  27 opened exhibit in Florence “Scrittura e culto a Poggio Colla, un santuario etrusco nel Mugello,” and in a forthcoming article in the scholarly journal Etruscan Studies will go deeper into the matter.


Inscribed surfaces of the stele already have revealed mention of the goddess Uni as well as a reference to the god Tina, the name of the supreme deity of the Etruscans. – Mugello Valley Project



Find also to read:

San Giovenale

One of the most significant Etruscan discoveries in decades names female goddess Uni

Rare Etruscan Temple Stone Inscription Translated

Discovery of Uni: Goddess’ Name Found on Ancient Etruscan Temple Stone


Further reading

  1. (Some of) The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy
  2. The Tuscan Countryside from the Palazzo Pitti in Florence
  3. An Italian Medieval Village Untouched by Modernity
  4. A Poet’s Paradise in the Colli Euganei
  5. To Borgo, with Love 💕
  6. Italy – Monteriggioni
  7. Civita di Bagnoregio: 8 Inhabitants and 12 Cats
  8. New on 500px : Petroio…..borgo medievale by lorianavescovi
  9. Etruria Tuscia Toscana. 1. Etruria
  10. The Etruscans
  11. The Pelasgians – The History of Etruria ,A Ture (1η)
  12. What to see from Civitavecchia other than Rome?
  13. Not only Romans
  14. A Time Not Forgotten
  15. In the woods, 2500 years ago
  16. Etruscan Tombs
  17. 334 – 336: Sleeping With and In Memory of the Dead
  18. The Myths Really Happened
  19. City on a Hill…
  20. The Dying Town | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
  21. Botticelli’s Mother
  22. The Beginning of Always
  23. Thursday Doors, October 23
  24. Thursday Doors, July 14
  25. One of My Favorite Books of 2015, The Wedding Shroud
  26. The Weirwoods, Thomas Burnett Swann
  27. 075 4 Calendario del Borgo 2016, febbraio


One thought on “Inscription on an ancient Etruscan temple stone mentioning goddess Uni

  1. Pingback: Verwaarloosde geboortedag en sterfplaats 1 Rabbijn Jeshua en Romeinse weerstand | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.