Tabula Cortonensis

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Tabula Cortonensis
Cortona Tablet.jpg
Front view
Material bronze
Height458 mm
Width285 mm
Writing Etruscan
Created 2nd century BC
DiscoveredOctober 1992
Present locationMAEC, Cortona

The Tabula Cortonensis (sometimes also Cortona Tablet) is a 2200-year-old, inscribed bronze tablet of Etruscan origin, discovered in Cortona, Italy. [1] 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. [2] 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 (examination of the construction site did not reveal any other Etruscan remains) and possibly locate the missing portion.



The tablet is thought by some scholars, notably Larissa Bonfante and Nancy de Grummond, to be a notarized record of the division of an inheritance or sale of real estate. Reference is made on the tablet to a vineyard (cf. lines 1 and 2: vinac), cultivated land (line 2: restm-c), and an estate located in the territory of Lake Trasimeno (cf. lines 35 and 36: celti nɜitisś tarsminaśś). [3] The lake lies east of Cortona in modern-day Western Umbria.

In addition to the references to land, the tablet includes several references relating to table furnishings. The tablet includes words that appear to refer to plates (line 3: spante, a loan word from Umbrian) and salt (line 9: salini, also the Latin word for salt cellar, as well as 'a number of linguistically similar words such as the various forms of larisal). Additionally, several words (pav, clθii, zilci, atina, larz) that appear on the tablet have been found inscribed on Etruscan plates, drinking cups, or wine jugs or jars. [4]

Physical description

The tablet measures 50 centimetres (20 in) by 30 centimetres (12 in), and is about between 2 millimetres (0.079 in) and 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick.[ citation needed ]

When discovered, the tablet had been broken into multiple pieces, of which only seven have been found. [5] The missing portion is believed by Etruscanists to contain only names and not details of the estate.


The text contains thirty-four known Etruscan words and an equal number of previously unattested Etruscan words. Moreover, a new alphabetic sign Ǝ (a reversed epsilon) is present on the tablet. This implies that, at least in the Etruscan dialect spoken in Cortona where this letter exclusively appears, the letter Ǝ marks a different sound from that of the letter E. [5] The inscription dates ca. 200 B.C. [2]


The following transcribes the special reversed epsilon as ɜ:

On the front
01: et . pɜtruiś . scɜvɜś . ɜliuntś .
02: vinac . restmc . cenu . tɜnθur . śar .
03: cusuθuraś . larisalisvla . pesc . spante . tɜnθur .
04: sa . śran . śarc . clθii . tɜrsna . θui . span θi . ml
05: ɜśieθic . raśnas IIIIC inni . pes . pɜtruś . pav
06: ac . trau lac . tiur . tɜn[θ]urs . tɜnθa[ś] . za cina tpr
07: iniserac . zal[six] \\ cś . ɜsiś vere cusuθurśum .
08: pes . pɜtruśta . scɜv[aś] \\ nu θanatur . lart pɜtr
09: uni . arnt . pini . lart . [v]ipi . lusce . laris . salini
10: vɜtnal . lart . vɜlara . larθal'isa . lart vɜlara.
11: aulesa . vɜl . pumpu . pruciu . aule cɜl atina . sɜ
12: tmnal . arnza . fɜlśni . vɜlθinal . vɜl . luisna
13: lusce . vɜl uslna . nufresa . laru . slanzu . larz
14: a lartle vɜlaveś arnt . pɜtru . ra ufe \\ ɜpru
15: ś . ame . vɜlχe . cusu larisal . clenia rc . laris
16: cusu . larisalisa larizac clan . larisal . pɜtr
17: uni . scɜ[va]ś arntlei . pɜtruś . puia
18: cen . zic . ziχuχe . spa-rzɜ-śtiś śazleiś in
19: θuχti . cusuθuraś . suθiu . ame . tal suθive
20: naś . rat-m . θuχt . ceśu . tlt eltɜi . sianś .
21: spa-rzɜ-te . θui . saltzic . fratuce . cusuθuraś .
22: larisalisvla . pɜtruśc . scɜvaś . pesś . tarχ ian
23: eś \\ cnl . nuθe . mal ec . lart . cucrina . lausisa .
24: zilaθ meχ l.raśnal .[la]ris . cɜl atina lau
25: sa clanc . arnt luscni [a]rnθal . clanc . larz
26: a . lart . turmna . salin[ial . larθ cɜl atina . a
27: pnal . clenia rc . vɜlχe[ś][...][papal]
28: śerc . vɜlχe . cusu . aule[sa][...]
29: aninalc . laris . fuln[folnius][clenia]
30: rc . lart . pɜtce . uslnal[...][cucrina]
31: inaθur . tɜcsinal . vɜl[...]
32: uś . larisc . cusu . uslna[l][...]
On the back
33: aule . salini . cusual
34: zilci . larθal . cusuś . titinal
35: larisalc . saliniś . aulesla . celti nɜitis
36: ś . tar sminaśś . spa rz a in θuχt ceśu .
37: rat-m . suθiu . suθiusa . vɜlχeś . cusuśa
38: ulesla . vɜlθuruś . t[.]lniś . vɜlθurusla .
39: larθalc . cɜl atina ś . vetnal . larisalc .
40: cɜl atina ś . pitlnal

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  2. 1 2 Simon Hornblower; Antony Spawforth; Esther Eidinow (29 March 2012). The Oxford Classical Dictionary. OUP Oxford. pp. 387–. ISBN   978-0-19-954556-8.
  3. Jean MacIntosh Turfa (13 November 2014). The Etruscan World. Routledge. pp. 363–. ISBN   978-1-134-05523-4.
  4. Archived November 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. 1 2 Bonfante, Larissa; Bonfante, Giuliano (2002). The Etruscan Language. Manchester University Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN   0719055407.