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The Pyrgi Tablets (dated c. 500 BCE) are three golden plates inscribed with a bilingual Phoenician–Etruscan dedicatory text. They were discovered in 1964 during a series of excavations at the site of ancient Pyrgi, on the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy in Latium (Lazio). The text records the foundation of a temple and its dedication to the Etruscan supreme goddess Uni, who is identified with Astarte in the Phoenician text. The temple’s construction is attributed to Tiberius Velianas, ruler of the nearby city of Caere.
Two of the tablets are inscribed in the Etruscan language, the third in Phoenician. [ citation needed ]The writings are important in providing both a bilingual text that allows researchers to use knowledge of Phoenician to interpret Etruscan, and evidence of Phoenician or Punic influence in the Western Mediterranean. They may relate to Polybius's report (Hist. 3,22) of an ancient and almost unintelligible treaty between the Romans and the Carthaginians, which he dated to the consulships of Lucius Junius Brutus and Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus (509 BC).
The Phoenician inscriptions are known as KAI 277. The tablets are now held at the National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia, Rome.
|Wikisource has the original text with transliteration:|
The Phoenician inscriptions are known as KAI 277; they read:
The Phoenician text has long been known to be in a Semitic, more specifically Canaanite language (very closely related to Hebrew, and also relatively close to Aramaic and Ugaritic); hence there was no need for it to be "deciphered." And while the inscription can certainly be read, certain passages are philologically uncertain on account of perceived complications of syntax and the vocabulary employed in the inscription, and as such they have become the source of debate among both Semiticists and Classicists.
Supplementary to the Pyrgi Tablets are inscriptions on vessels found in the sanctuary at Pyrgi:
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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 Etruscan influenced Latin but eventually was completely superseded by it.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.
ʼĒl is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "god" or "deity", or referring to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ʼila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic archaic biliteral ʼ‑l, meaning "god".
The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region.
In Greek mythology, Cadmus, was the founder and first king of Thebes. Cadmus was the first Greek hero and, alongside Perseus and Bellerophon, the greatest hero and slayer of monsters before the days of Heracles. Commonly stated to be a Phoenician prince, son of king Agenor and queen Telephassa of Tyre and the brother of Phoenix, Cilix and Europa, he was originally sent by his royal parents to seek out and escort his sister Europa back to Tyre after she was abducted from the shores of Phoenicia by Zeus. In early accounts, Cadmus and Europa were instead the children of Phoenix. Cadmus founded the Greek city of Thebes, the acropolis of which was originally named Cadmeia in his honour.
Phoenician is an extinct Canaanite Semitic language originally spoken in the region surrounding the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Extensive Tyro-Sidonian trade and commercial dominance led to Phoenician becoming a lingua-franca of the maritime Mediterranean during the Iron Age. The Phoenician alphabet was spread to Greece during this period, where it became the source of all modern European scripts.
Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counsellor of the state. A daughter of Saturn, she is the wife of Jupiter and the mother of Mars, Vulcan, Bellona and Juventas. She is the Roman equivalent of Hera, queen of the gods in Greek mythology; like Hera, her sacred animal was the peacock. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, and she was said to also watch over the women of Rome. As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina ("Queen") and was a member of the Capitoline Triad, centered on the Capitoline Hill in Rome; it consisted of her, Jupiter, and Minerva, goddess of wisdom.
Astarte is the Hellenized form of the Ancient Near Eastern goddess Astoreth, a form of Ishtar, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians. She was also celebrated in Egypt following the importation of Levantine cults there. The name Astarte is sometimes also applied to her cults in Mesopotamian cultures like Assyria and Babylonia.
Proto-Sinaitic is considered the earliest trace of alphabetic writing and the common ancestor of both the Ancient South Arabian script and the Phoenician alphabet, which led to many modern alphabets including the Greek alphabet. According to common theory, Canaanites who spoke a Semitic language repurposed Egyptian hieroglyphs to construct a different script. The script is attested in a small corpus of inscriptions found at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt dating to the Middle Bronze Age.
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.
The Tabula Cortonensis is a 2200-year-old, inscribed bronze tablet of Etruscan origin, discovered in Cortona, Italy. It may record for posterity the details of an ancient legal transaction which took place in the ancient Tuscan city of Cortona, known to the Etruscans as Curtun. Its 40-line, two-sided inscription is the third longest inscription found in the Etruscan language, and the longest discovered in the 20th century. While the discovery was made in October 1992, the contents were not published until seven years later, in 1999. The delay was due to the tablet's having been brought to the police by someone who claimed to have found it at a construction site. When provided to the police, the tablet had been broken into seven fragments, with the original right bottom corner missing. Investigators believed that, if the existence of the tablet were not initially disclosed, it would have been easier to ascertain whether the tablet had really been found at that location and possibly locate the missing portion.
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Pyrgi was an ancient Etruscan port in Latium, central Italy, to the north-west of Caere. Its location is now occupied by the borough of Santa Severa.
The Cippus Perusinus is a stone tablet discovered on the hill of San Marco, near Perugia, Italy, in 1822. The tablet bears 46 lines of incised Etruscan text. The cippus is assumed to be a text dedicating a legal contract between the Etruscan families of Velthina and Afuna, regarding the sharing or use of a property upon which there was a tomb belonging to the noble Velthinas.
The Punic religion or Western Phoenician religion in the western Mediterranean was a direct continuation of the Phoenician variety of the polytheistic ancient Canaanite religion. However, significant local differences developed over the centuries following the foundation of Carthage and other Punic communities elsewhere in North Africa, southern Spain, Sardinia, western Sicily, and Malta from the ninth century BC onward. After the conquest of these regions by the Roman empire in the third and second centuries BCE, Punic religious practices continued, surviving until the fourth century CE in some cases. As with most cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, Punic religion suffused their society and there was no stark distinction between religious and secular spheres. Sources on Punic religion are poor. There are no surviving literary sources and Punic religion is primarily reconstructed from inscriptions and archaeological evidence. An important sacred space in Punic religion appears to have been the large open air sanctuaries known as tophets in modern scholarship, in which urns containing the cremated bones of infants and animals were buried. There is a long-running scholarly debate about whether child sacrifice occurred at these locations, as suggested by Greco-Roman and biblical sources.
In epigraphy, a bilingual is an inscription that includes the same text in two languages. Bilinguals are important for the decipherment of ancient writing systems, and for the study of ancient languages with small or repetitive corpora.
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Engraved metal plates hold a special significance in the Latter Day Saint movement because in 1827, the founder of that religion, Joseph Smith, claimed to have obtained a set of engraved golden plates from an angel and from them translated into English the Book of Mormon, a religious text of that religious tradition.
Bodashtart was a Phoenician King of Sidon, the grandson of king Eshmunazar I, and a vassal of the Achaemenid Empire. He succeeded his cousin Eshmunazar II to the throne of Sidon and scholars believe that he was succeeded by his son and proclaimed heir Yatonmilk.
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