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In Etruscan mythology, Nethuns[1] was the god of wells, later expanded to all water, including the sea. The name "Nethuns" is likely cognate with that of the Celtic god Nechtan and the Persian and Vedic gods sharing the name Apam Napat, perhaps all based on the Proto-Indo-European word *népōts "nephew, grandson." In this case, Etruscan may have borrowed the Umbrian name *Nehtuns (Roman Neptune,[2] who was originally a god of water).

Nethuns is mentioned on the Piacenza liver, a third-century BC bronze model of a sheep's liver used for divinatory rites called haruspicy, as Neθ, an abbreviation for his full name.[3] As a patron god his profile, wearing a ketos (sea monster) headdress, appears on a coin of Vetulonia,[4] circa 215 – 211 BC; he is accompanied by his trident between two dolphins.[5]

NETHUNS is engraved on a bronze Etruscan mirror in the Museo Gregoriano in the Vatican.[6]


  1. ^ The transliteration "Nathuns" was used in the early twentieth century.
  2. ^ Helmut Rix, "Etruscan," in The Ancient Languages of Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 163.
  3. ^ L.B. van der Meer, The Bronze Liver of Piacenza: Analysis of a Polytheistic Structure (1987).
  4. ^ One of the Etruscan dodecapolis, in northern Etruria.
  5. ^ An illustrated example.
  6. ^ Noted by George Dennis, The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (London) 1848, a time when Nethuns and Neptune were not yet securely linked. (On-line text)


  • Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicum, VII (Zurich and Munich:Artemis) 1994. The basic professional reference.