Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reflections on the Etruscan Civilization

Reflections on the Etruscan Civilization

By Graziano Baccolini

I can never succeed in understanding why Italians still fail to recognize the enormous contribution that the Etruscan civilization has made to our Western civilization. We keep on believing the teaching that the Greeks and above all the Romans are the peoples to whom the Western world owes its origins. All of this is considerably exaggerated and based on historical falsehoods. However, I have ascertained instead that it is the Etruscans, coming from the East, who are the true founders of our European culture, for both good and bad aspects. This truth continues to be understated and at times hindered by various Italian historians while it has been being recognized for numerous decades by the majority of the historians of the whole world. Etruscology is now a subject of enormous interest all over the world and a lot of falsehoods and commonly held beliefs are crumbling because they were used to discredit a people for appropriating of their worths. In the past centuries first the powerful and unculturated Rome has falsified its own origins and has ignored the legacy of the defeated Etruscan civilization, then the first Christian emperors have completed the work with their edicts. Subsequently on the ruins of the empire, the Pontifices of the new religion appropriated many ancient insignias of the Orient handed down to the Romans from Etruscan leaders and priests. For example the purple of the Lucumones became the colour of the cardinal, the Etruscan priest's Littus became the Pastoral one of the Bishops. The solemn ceremonies of the new religion are a reproduction of the Etruscan religious ceremonies. The ancient former Etruscan cities became the first Episcopal centers (Volterra, Vulci, Orvieto, etc).

The longest existing Etruscan text is a calendar containing 12 columns with the religious instructions for every day. Also the figurative Christian patrimony retraces the images found again in the Etruscan tombs. The winged figures of the Etruscans return in the Christian figures of the angels and Satan. On top of the ancient Etruscan temples has been built the new churches which very probably still conceal in many things their walls. It is strange that Etruscologists have not considered this yet. Then first Rome, then above all the priestly heirarchy of the new Roman religion snatched the symbols of the Etruscan civilization but denied the so-called pagan origin of it all. As always happens rather in the history and in the life, slandering the legitimate owners and accusing them of various inequities. Unfortunately our culture has inherited the worse of the Etruscan religion as for example, the concept of infallibility, seconded by the Christian religion.

However as also happens at times in life, the truth is reborn. From accumulated evidence, one succeeds in gathering that the truth is quite different. The great civilizing inheritance of the Etruscans was for centuries abandoned, earths once rich with produce became uncultivated, shops of artisans and artists became empty, their advanced knowledge of metallurgy and of hydraulics was forgotten and Etruscan creative individuality was oppressed, fortunately not entirely. After centuries of cultural regression (I probabably suspect due to the new religious Imperium) of hiding and of destruction of the sources of the Etruscan civilization there came the rebirth. In the ancient suburbs of the Appennines there remained the descendants of the Etruscans and the wonder contained in the tombs of their ancestors woke up again their native genome: the central part of the ancient world earth of the Etruscans, Tuscany, became the cradle of the Humanism and of the Renaissance. In these cities, Etruscans for long generations, characters such as Dante, Leonardo, Brunelleschi, Giotto, Bernini, Michelangelo etc were born, and above all so many unknown artisans and artists to which the growth of our Western civilization is owed.

Rereading these reflections I now understand, and perhaps you will also understand yourselves, because many Italian historians are reluctant to recognize these truths.

G. Baccolini Università di Bologna , Italy April 2001

See also a summary of my researches about the Sacred Etruscan Mount of Montovolo:


My Opinion about the Origin of Etruscan Civilization

By Graziano Baccolini

Now, I wish to report my opinion about the origin of the Etruscan culture. This opinion, or new theory, is matured during my studies which have permitted to me to individualise, in the site of Montovolo, a probable Oracular Centre or Navel of the Etruscan world, hierto unknown to historians. In addition, this research has allowed to discover that the archaic symbols, till now underestimated, of the Oval Stone and of the Cross were fundamental symbols even in the Etruscan religion. I think that these new data will bring new light to the studies on the Etruscans and consistence to my hypothesis on their cultural origin.

Firstly, I think the mystery of this people is due, above all, to the fact that their literary sources, the writings of their contemporaries, as the Etruscan history in 20 volumes by emperor Tiberius Claudius, and their religious symbols were deliberately destroyed in the first centuries of Christianity to cancel, probably, something of very important for the survival of the "new" religion. The documents that show this destruction, as for example the edicts of Teodosio (391-392 d.c), exist, but till now many historians say, with euphemistic expression, that "unfortunately there are no traces of Etruscan literature or of historical accounts or they are disappeared !"

Therefore, when we speak about Etruscans we use the term of "mysterious people" whose origins are still an object of debate for many scholars and writers .On the other hand, surprisingly, many Etruscologists think it is irrelevant knowledge!

Nowadays, there are three different hypotheses that are presented in opposition among them. There is the hypothesis of the oriental origin firstly formulated by Herodotus and supported also by many other important ancient authors. Now, this theory is accepted by many non–italian historians . In opposition, there is the hypothesis, exposed firstly by Livio, of a northern origin whose the Reti and other populations like the Veneti could be the descendants. Now, this hypothesis is practically abandoned by the contemporary historians. Then the theory of autochthonous origin formulated firstly by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the unique dissenting voice among the ancients, probably for ideological reason and about four centuries later Herodotus. This theory was in part reformulated1 by Massimo Pallottino in 1942. He wished to turn away from the question of the "origin" and instead discussed the "formative process of the Etruscan which can only take place on the territory of Etruria itself . "The mark received by earl, fresh , primitive, flexible soul of oldest Etruscan, influenced by great overseas cultures, was as great as to definitively draw spiritual trends and the structure of the nation".

I think that this Italian formative process postpones the problem of the pregnant "origin" of their culture that certainly cannot be formed in Etruria with only some commercial contacts with the east or with small groups of immigrants from east arrived in "remote pre-historic times". Besides, knowing when this theory was enunciated by the Pallottino, published in 1942 by Hoepli in an editorial collection dedicated to Mussolini, we may suppose some ideological motivations to choose this hypothesis to "underline glories and priority of ancient Italian civilization"2. Successively he become the founder of a "School" and his numerous assistants defended and defend still now his hypothesis which is the most followed by italian hystorians. However, reading a recent book of M. Torelli3, a hystorian of Pallottino’s School, I have found that Pallottino theory is evolving towards the orientalist theory. In fact Torelli say that probably "the arrive of omogeneous groups of not-numerous people with the same advanced cultural knowledge and the same language might have influenced the indigenous populations". But for Torelli this possible arrival is an "hystorical marginal fact".

Personally, I think that the above theories may be, more or less, corrected only if they are considered as a whole. In other words, the populations that have had a fundamental role for the Etruscan culture have been people with oriental origins and permeated of Anatholian and Mesopothamian culture. During the Bronze Age and for several centuries they arrived in Italy firstly from the North, probably going up the Danubio and subsequently the Po and the Reno (at that time called Spinete) crossing first the Adriatic sea, therefore subsequently more easily from the Tyrrhenian sea crossing the oriental Mediterraneum sea. Obviously their culture is further matured in that rich zone of Italy, to south of the Po subsequently called Etruria. If it is so, it is not justified to define indigenous this culture but its pregnant origin is oriental. In addition, I think that when we speak of the origin of the Etruschans it is more correct to speak of the origin of their advanced culture in contrast with the primitive culture of other italic peoples. On the other hand there is no evidence of a strong immigration as was happened for the Greeks in the South of Italy, but, probably, there will have been a gradual and constant migration of small groups of persons with very similar culture and probably all of anatholian -mesopothamian origin. Below I will propose the motivations and the circumstances of these small migrations.

Probably, these migrations beginned just at the end of the Bronze Age when there are very few indigenous inhabitants in Italy. However, the advanced knowledge of this immigrants in all the fields allowed them to become the dominant group. After some centuries at the beginning of the Iron Age this new culture was called Villanovians and it occupied part of the Padana lowland and of the Centre of Italy. Subsequently, with new and more substantial migrations of other peoples from the same oriental place and with similar language and arriving from south by sea, this culture defined Villanovian was transformed in that more evolved civilization so-called Etruscan. Then, the Villanovians already mark the beginning of Etruscan culture, as proved by the overlap of Villanovian area with the later extent of Etruscan inhabitation in the historical period.

In a simple manner, I think that, the development of the Etruscan nation and culture may be compared to the growth of our contemporary American nation and culture that all people know without doubts. The continuous arrival of European immigrants and the wealth of the place has allowed the American nation to become, after some centuries from the first European immigrants, a new cultural center and a new economic power. But now nobody would risk to define autochhonous our contemporary American culture neither that its formative process is occurred only on the American soul but everybody would recognise that its fundamental origin, also cultural, is European, even if, after some centuries, a difference will be noticed between Europeans and Americans that now already exists.

The Anatolian-Mesopotamian cultural origin of the Etruschans are confirmed by numerous series of advanced knowledges in different fields as metallurgical, hydraulic, building, artistic, religious ones and some affinities as the art of the divination, the jewellery and attire, the refined taste etc. For this when we visit an Etruscan museum it seems to us to be in a museum of oriental cultures. Their opulence and their refined taste in the choice of the joys of life had to be in contrast with the one of surrounding Italian peoples, but also with their contemporary Greeks that conducted a most modest standard of life. The structural resemblances between the Etruscan and Lemnian languages is in favour to an origin from Aegean-Anatolian area around 1000 B.C. Also the fundamental role that had the female figure in Etruscan culture connects them to archaic oriental matriarchal civilizations where the Big Goddess was venerated. This element differentiated them from other contemporary cultures where the male figure had supplanted that female relegating the woman to a subordinate role that only in our last century has regained its role. Remember to us that even Plato, in the Timeo, considered the woman a sub-human being, and this reveals what deep differences there were between Greek culture and the Etruscan one even if the Greeks have been also influenced, by the oriental Aegean culture.

In addition, as reported in my articles4 and web pages4, after the discovery of a probable Etruscan Oracular Centre on the top of the mountain of Montovolo, analysing several facts such as symbols, legends and toponimous, I have found unequivocal connections between this mountain and the Etruscan city of Marzabotto. These findings have permitted to me to realize that the Oval stones, set on Marzabotto’s Tombs as well as in other Etruscan Necropolises, were a very important religious symbol even for Etruscans. This symbol of the Oval stone, is another affinity with archaic oriental cultures. It should be noted that today these stones are considered by Etruscologists only simple cippi or Tomb signals! The other symbols found at Montovolo as a cross inscribed in a circle, a snake and two doves are often found in other ancient Oracular Centers as Delphi, Delos, Milethos, Metsamor, Tebe as well as many other oriental centres. These symbolism make evident the oriental origin of the Etruscans because such archaic symbols cannot be accepted by simple commercial exchanges. The Cross, often inscribed in a circle, that I have found at Montovolo and at Marzabotto like in a lot of other Etruscan findings is also a Villanovian symbol up to now underestimated and defined by many historians a simple ornamental motive. The equilateral cross was already used in ancient Sumerian carvings as indication of the Divinity. A so deep rootedness of these religious symbols in a whole people presupposes a distant origins in the time. The Oval stone can also bring back us to the Pelasgian myth of Eurinome that gave birth to the Primordial Egg after she was fertilized by Ofione, the snake, that immediately rolled up himself on the egg staying motionless up to when it was opened making go out the wonder of the universe.

Images of Oval stones with a snake rolled up are also depicted on mural frescos in Pompei, notoriously of Etruscan origin.

It is interesting to note that also now the Moslem pilgrim entering in the Ka’bha shrine, in Mecca, kisses the sacred Black stone which is of an oval shape about seven inches in diameter.

Now, it remains to explain the most important question! How and why these oriental immigrants with probable same culture, came continually in Etruria, forming after several centuries a rich and homogeneous people in a new earth? We know that the first European immigrants that reached America, finding in that place a rich country informed their European compatriots that they can also reach this rich earth. It is very probable that even, in archaic ages, there was a constant connection between several Sacred Centres of different and very distant regions. As I have explained in my preceding studies, such connection was possible using traveller pigeons that owed to be replaced, at least every one or two years, by others pigeons deriving from the interested regions. (See my page regarding the use of traveller pigeons5) . This periodically transport and reintegration of the pigeons had to be done by caravans and secretly. This necessity became the origin of the constant arrival of new groups of persons that were settled in that new rich region that will become the Etruria. Probably this easy and necessary connection between ancient Sacred Centres might give interesting explanations of others so- called ancient mysteries or mythological events.

Finally, after the reading of Giovanni Semerano’s books6, I have found a farther confirmation of the oriental origin of the Etruschan culture. In fact, after sixty years of studies this 90 years old philologist, Member of the Oriental Institute of Chicago, has demonstrated the Accadian and Sumerian origin of the Etruscan language and therefore also of the Latin and European languages. In such a way the theory of the Indo-European origin becomes a mere fable. His theories had been snubbed for years by the Italian Academy that had always ignored his contributions until just recently, when his book "The Origins of European Culture" was greeted with great interest by the philosophers Massimo Cacciari, Emanuele Severino and Umberto Galimberti. But many other academic historians ignores his discovery, because this is in great contrast with their acclaimed axiomatic theories.


1) Massimo Pallottino Etruscologia Hoepli, 2003, 110

2) See the article of Sergio Frau, Etruschi, cosi il fascismo ne cancellò le origini La Repubblica. maggio 2001 and also reported on the web:

3) Mario Torelli, Storia degli Etruschi, Ed Laterza, 28, 2001.

4)Graziano Baccolini, Hera,16,61, 2001; Hera 41,76,2003 . This research is also reported on the web :

5) Regarding the use of traveller pigeons see my web page:

5) Luciano De Cresenzo, I Grandi Miti Greci, Oscar Mondadori, 2003 pag. 247-8

6) Giovanni Semerano, L’infinito: un equivoco millenario, ed. Mondadori, 2001., Giovanni Semerano, Il popolo che sconfisse la morte ed Mondadori, 2003.

- Giovanni Semerano had to wait 90 years before receiving his first institutional acknowledgement for his important discoveries concerning ancient languages, in particular, the Etruscan language. In fact in Florence, July 2001, Semerano received the "Silver Plaque" by the Tuscany Regional assembly that the president Riccardo Nencini attributed to him for his hypothesis on the "mother of all languages" which for Semerano is the Acadian-Sumerian.

G. Baccolini Università di Bologna , Italy, September 2003


Reflections on the Etruscan Civilization

The Mysterious Etruscans

Etruscan Civilization [Wikipedia]

Etruscan Foundation

Although most people just assume that ancient Greece led directly to the ascendancy of Rome and ultimately to the foundations of Western Civilization, the Etruscan culture actually predates what was considered the timeline for Ancient Greece. It was latter influenced by "Magna Graecia" (Southern Italian Greek Culture), but I tend to agree with Mr. Baccolini.

Also, we use the flag of the Lombard Kingdom as the symbol of our culture (Etruscan-Italic-Celtic-Lombard) because they administered basically "Northern Italy" and had a flag to represent it. However, while our flag is Lombard, our soul is Etruscan. By "Etruscan," I mean Etruscan and other early Italic tribes from Rome northward (Volsci, Venets, Ligurians, Camunni, etc.).

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times. There's so much to study yet. I think this article, however, is a big step in understanding our origin.


Anonymous said...

This is one of of the best writings about Etruscans. I think Italians should be proud of Etruscan heritage and I am very glad that somebody from Italy said it. It was very saddening to me when I realized how much Etruscans were demonized in ancient times and later. Civilization of Rasseni was very refined, ethical and, in my opinion, essentially non-agressive, tolerant. Everybody fails to see their tolerant side! Yes, they had some wars, but those more looked as "necessary evil" in order to maintain trade than they looked like a greed driven invasions. Etruscans brought the light in Europe. Why? It's not just about refinement and technology, though those are important. After all the bad propaganda there is still no record of continuous terror and discrimination of non-Entruscans. And what to say about role of women? It took Europe over 2000 years to reach the level of women's rights that existed in Etruria.
However, I think that Etruscology still suffers from some kind of Europocentric envy that clenches its teeth every time when it needs to recognize the contribution of Asia to Europaan civilization and to mankind. I find it very sad. We should be better than that.

I loved this article so much! Greetings from a Bosnian Serb from my adopted country of Canada.

Camun said...

Hello from Northern California. The Greeks may have been more cultured, but the Etruscans were their equal in terms of technology, not to mention mythology. Also, they had a great land, and after some expansion, were happy to just maintain it. There was some pushing with the Gauls to the north, but it doesn't appear to have been anything very deep-seeded.

One of the justifications of the Roman Empire was that it was a dark world, and at least the Romans spread civilization. However, the Etruscans were influencing the outside world peacefully, without military might. Also, there wasn't the sexual repression that came later with the rise of Christianity. There was a certain benevolence to them.