The Liver of Piacenza is an Etruscan artifact found in a field on September 26, 1877, near Gossolengo, in the province of Piacenza, Italy, now kept in the Municipal Museum of Piacenza, in the Palazzo Farnese.
It is a life-sized bronze model of a sheep's liver covered in Etruscan inscriptions (TLE 719), measuring 126 × 76 × 60 mm (5 × 3 × 2.4 inches) and dated to the late 2nd century BC, i.e. a time when the Piacenza region would already have been Latin-dominated (Piacenza was founded in 218 BC as a Roman garrison town in Cisalpine Gaul).
The liver is subdivided into sections for the purposes of performing haruspicy (hepatoscopy); the sections are inscribed with names of individual Etruscan deities.
The Piacenza liver is a striking conceptual parallel to clay models of sheep's livers known from the Ancient Near East, reinforcing the evidence of a connection (be it by migration or merely by cultural contact) between the Etruscans and the Anatolian cultural sphere. A Babylonian clay model of a sheep's liver dated to the Middle Bronze Age is preserved in the British Museum.The Piacenza liver parallels the Babylonian artifact by representing the major anatomical features of the liver (the gall bladder, caudate lobe and posterior vena cava) as sculpted protrusions.
The outer rim of the Piacenza liver is divided into 16 sections; since according to the testimony of Pliny and Cicero,[ citation needed ] the Etruscans divided the heavens into 16 astrological houses, it has been suggested that the liver is supposed to represent a model of the cosmos, and its parts should be identified as constellations or astrological signs.[ citation needed ] Each of the 16 houses was the "dwelling place" of an individual deity. Seers would e.g. draw conclusions from the direction in which lightning was seen. Lightning in the east was auspicious, lightning in the west inauspicious (Pliny 2.143f.). Stevens (2009) surmises that Tin, the main god of lightning, had his dwelling due north, as lightning in the north-east was most lucky, lightning in the north-west most unlucky, while lightning in the southern half of the compass was not as strong an omen (Servius ad. Aen. 2.693). The deciphering of the complex content of the Liver of Piacenza was the subject of two scientific monographs by the University of Bologna researcher Antonio Gottarelli, published between 2017 and 2018. These books represent the most complete analysis of its content and they reveal its nature of a handheld instrument for the digital calculation of a liturgical-ritual calendar. Its dating would be at fourth century BC and the position of place of discovery at 45° of latitude would be consistent with its instrumental use.[ citation needed ]
The theonyms are abbreviated and in many cases, the reading even of the abbreviation is disputed. As a result, there is a consensus for the interpretation of individual names only in a small number of cases. The reading given below is that of Morandi (1991) unless otherwise indicated:
Two words are on the bottom side of the artefact:
Etruscan was the language of the Etruscan civilization, in Italy, in the ancient region of Etruria. Etruscan influenced Latin but eventually was completely superseded by it. The Etruscans left around 13,000 inscriptions that have been found so far, only a small minority of which are of significant length; some bilingual inscriptions with texts also in Latin, Greek, or Phoenician; and a few dozen loanwords. Attested from 700 BC to AD 50, the relation of Etruscan to other languages has been a source of long-running speculation and study, with its being referred to at times as an isolate, one of the Tyrsenian languages, and a number of other less well-known theories.
In ancient Roman religion, the diiNovensiles or Novensides are collective deities of obscure significance found in inscriptions, prayer formulary, and both ancient and early-Christian literary texts.
Etruscan religion comprises a set of stories, beliefs, and religious practices of the Etruscan civilization, originating in the 7th century BC from the preceding Iron Age Villanovan culture, heavily influenced by the mythology of ancient Greece and Phoenicia, and sharing similarities with concurrent Roman mythology and religion. As the Etruscan civilization was assimilated into the Roman Republic in the 4th century BC, the Etruscan religion and mythology were partially incorporated into ancient Roman culture, following the Roman tendency to absorb some of the local gods and customs of conquered lands.
Tages was claimed as a founding prophet of Etruscan religion who is known from reports by Latin authors of the late Roman Republic and Roman Empire. He revealed a cosmic view of divinity and correct methods of ascertaining divine will concerning events of public interest. Such divination was undertaken in Roman society by priestly officials called haruspices.
In Etruscan religion and mythology, Tinia was the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, equivalent to the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus. However, a primary source from the Roman Varro states that Veltha, not Tins, was the supreme deity of the Etruscans. This has led some scholars to conclude that they were assimilated, but this is speculation. He was the husband of Uni and the father of Hercle. Like many other Etruscan deities, his name is gender neutral.
In the religion of ancient Rome, a haruspex was a person trained to practice a form of divination called haruspicy (haruspicina), the inspection of the entrails of sacrificed animals, especially the livers of sacrificed sheep and poultry. The reading of omens specifically from the liver is also known by the Greek term hepatoscopy.
Rhaetic or Raetic, also known as Rhaetian, was a language spoken in the ancient region of Rhaetia in the Eastern Alps in pre-Roman and Roman times. It is documented by around 280 texts dated from the 5th up until the 1st century BC, which were found through Northern Italy, Southern Germany, Eastern Switzerland, Slovenia and Western Austria, in two variants of the Old Italic scripts.
The Villanovan culture, regarded as the earliest phase of the Etruscan civilization, was the earliest Iron Age culture of Central Italy and Northern Italy. It directly followed the Bronze Age Proto-Villanovan culture which branched off from the Urnfield culture of Central Europe. This gave way in the 7th century BC to an increasingly orientalizing culture influenced by Greek traders and colonists who settled in South Italy.
Uni is the ancient goddess of marriage, fertility, family, and women in Etruscan religion and myth, and the patron goddess of Perugia. She is identified as the Etruscan equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology, and Hera in Greek mythology. As the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon, she is part of the Etruscan trinity, an original precursor to the Capitoline Triad, made up of her husband Tinia, the god of the sky, and daughter Menrva, the goddess of wisdom.
Tyrsenian, named after the Tyrrhenians, is a proposed extinct family of closely related ancient languages put forward by linguist Helmut Rix (1998), which consists of the Etruscan language of northern, central and south-western Italy, and eastern Corsica (France); the Rhaetic language of the Alps, named after the Rhaetian people; and the Lemnian language of the Aegean Sea. Camunic in northern Lombardy, in between Etruscan and Rhaetic, may belong here too, but the material is very scant. Tyrsenian languages are considered Pre-Indo-European.
In Etruscan mythology and religion, Selvans is god of the woodlands and boundaries, including sacred boundaries. He is possibly cognate with Roman Silvanus. As the god of boundaries, he is known by the epithet tularias as stated by a dedication of a statue to the god. His name is 10th on the list of 16 gods on the outer rim of the Piacenza Liver. Votive inscriptions from the liver show that he was a popular god in Etruria.
Etruscan art was produced by the Etruscan civilization in central Italy between the 10th and 1st centuries BC. From around 750 BC it was heavily influenced by Greek art, which was imported by the Etruscans, but always retained distinct characteristics. Particularly strong in this tradition were figurative sculpture in terracotta, wall-painting and metalworking especially in bronze. Jewellery and engraved gems of high quality were produced.
Corpus Speculorum Etruscorum is an international project with the goal to publish all existing Etruscan bronze mirrors. The first three volumes were published in 1981. A total of thirty-six fascicles has been produced.
The Tomb of Orcus, sometimes called the Tomb of Murina, is a 4th-century BC Etruscan hypogeum in Tarquinia, Italy. Discovered in 1868, it displays Hellenistic influences in its remarkable murals, which include the portrait of Velia Velcha, an Etruscan noblewoman, and the only known pictorial representation of the demon Tuchulcha. In general, the murals are noted for their depiction of death, evil, and unhappiness.
Satre or Satres was an Etruscan god who appears on the Liver of Piacenza, a bronze model used for haruspicy. He occupies the dark and negative northwest region, and seems to be a "frightening and dangerous god who hurls his lightning from his abode deep in the earth." It is possible that Satre is also referred to with the word "satrs" in the Liber Linteus, the Etruscan text preserved in Ptolemaic Egypt as mummy wrappings.
Cel was the Etruscan goddess of the earth. On the Etruscan calendar, the month of Celi (September) is likely named for her. Her Greek counterpart is Gaia and her Roman is Tellus.
Rofalco was a fortified late-Etruscan settlement, located about twenty km north of Vulci, at the edge of the Selva del Lamone volcanic plateau. The site controlled the important natural route formed by the valley of the Olpeta stream and contributed to the defense and the organization of the southeastern portion of the ancient territory of Vulci.
Ethausva is an Etruscan divine figure that appears in a few Etruscan inscriptions. She is depicted as a winged female richly robed and wearing a jeweled crown on her head. Her lack of mention on Etruscan artwork and inscriptions suggest that she was not very common, but she was considered canon to the Etruscan Pantheon so she was still known during the time of the Etruscans.
Culsans (Culśanś) is an Etruscan deity, known from two inscriptions and a variety of iconographical material which includes coins, statuettes, and a sarcophagus. Culśanś is usually rendered as a male deity with two faces and at least two statuettes depicting him have been found in close association with city gates. These characteristics suggest that he was a protector of gateways, who could zealously watch over the gate with not one, but two pairs of eyes.
Lur is an Etruscan deity with not much known history. Lurs does not have many depictions but the ones that have been found show the deity as a male. He has been noted to be associated with a prophetic nature, while also bearing oracular and martial characteristics. He has been linked to another deity by the name of Laran, which suggest is where Lur derives his name from. The context of the name has been associated with darkness and the underworld. A fifth century vase found near a sanctuary in Sans Giovenale reads an inscription that translates: "I am Lurs, that of Laran." Another inscription has been found with the spelling of his name as lartla, noting relations to a Lar, which gives a label to Lur that describes features of protection.