Pyrgi Tablets

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The Pyrgi tablets: written in the Phoenician language (left) and the Etruscan language (center, right). In both cases, the text is written right-to-left.

The Pyrgi Tablets (dated c. 500 BC) are three golden plates inscribed with a bilingual PhoenicianEtruscan 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 Phoenician goddess Astarte, who is identified with the Etruscan supreme goddess Uni in the Etruscan text. The temple's construction is attributed to Tiberius Velianas, ruler of the nearby city of Caere.[1]

Two of the tablets are inscribed in the Etruscan language, the third in Phoenician.[2] 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).[citation needed]

The Phoenician inscriptions are known as KAI 277. The tablets are now held at the National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia, Rome.

Pallottino has claimed that the existence of this bilingual suggests an attempt by Carthage to support or impose a ruler (Tiberius Velianas) over Caere at a time when Etruscan sea power was waning and to be sure that this region, with strong cultural ties to Greek settlements to the south, stayed in the Etrusco-Carthaginian confederacy.[3] The exact nature of the rule of Tiberius Velianas has been the subject of much discussion. The Phoenician root MLK refers to sole power, often associated with a king. But the Etruscan text does not use the Etruscan word for "king"--lauχum, instead presenting the term for "magistrate"--zilac (perhaps modified by a word that may mean "great"). This suggests that Tiberius Velianas may have been a tyrant of the kind found in some Greek cities of the time. Building a temple, claiming to have been addressed by a god, and creating or strengthening his connections with foreign powers may all have been ways that he sought to solidify and legitimate his own power.[4]

Another area that the Pyrgi Tablets seem to throw light on is that Carthage was indeed involved in central Italy at this point in history. Such involvement was suggested by mentions by Polybius of a treaty between Rome and Carthage at about the same time period (circa 500 bce), and by Herodotus's accounts of Carthaginian involvement in the Battle of Allia (though this was over a century later). But these isolated accounts did not have any contemporaneous texts from the area to support them until these tablets were unearthed and interpreted.[5] Schmidtz originally claimed that the language pointed more toward an eastern Mediterranian form of Phoenician rather than to Punic/Carthaginian. But he has more recently reversed this view, and he even sees the possibility that the Carthaginians are directly referred to in the text.[6]

The text is also important for our understanding of religion in central Italy around the year 500 bce. Specifically, it suggests that the commemoration of the death of Adonis was an important rite in Central Italy at least at this time (around 500bce), that is if, as is generally assumed, the Phoenician phrase bym qbr ʼlm "on the day of the burial of the divinity" refers to this rite. This claim would be further strengthened if Schmidtz's recent claim can be accepted that the Phoenician phrase bmt n' bbt means "at the death of (the) Handsome (one) [=Adonis]."[7] Together with evidence of the rite of Adonai in the Liber Linteus in the 7th column, there is a strong likelihood that the ritual was practiced in (at least) the southern part of Etruria from at least circe 500 bce through the second century bce (depending on one's dating of the Liber Linteus). It must be noted, though that Adonis himself does not seem to be directly mentioned in any of the extant language of either text.[8]


[9]


Phoenician text[edit]

The Phoenician inscriptions are known as KAI 277; they read:

lrbt lʻštrt,
For the Lady, for Astarte,
ʼšr qdš ʼz, ʼš pʻl, wʼš ytn tbryʼ wlnš mlk ʻl kyšryʼ
this is the holy place, which was made, and which was placed (by) Tiberius Velianas, king over Kasriye (= Caerites?),
byrḥ zbḥ šmš, bmtnʼ bbt.
during the month of the sacrifice to the Sun, as an offering in the temple.[10]
wbn tw, kʻštrt ʼrš bdy, lmlky šnt šlš /// byrḥ krr, bym qbr ʼlm
And he built a chamber (or -bn TW = "Tiberius Velianas built (it)")[11], because Astarte requested (this) from him, year three "3" of his reign, in the month of Krr, on the day of the burial of the divinity.
wšnt lmʼš ʼlm bbty šnt km h kkb m ʼl.
And (may) the years of the statue of the deity in her temple (be) years like (or "as numerous as") the stars.[12][13][14]

The Phoenician text has long been known to be in a Semitic, more specifically a Canaanite language (specifically North Canaanite; South Canaanite dialects include Hebrew, Moabite, and Edomite; More distantly related: Aramaic and Ugaritic); hence there was no need for it to be "deciphered." And while most of the inscription can certainly reliably 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.[15]

For example, other translations of the final line, besides that cited above, include: "And I made a duplicate of the statue of the goddess <Astarte> in her temple as do the Kakkabites [?Carthaginians]"; and "As for the red robe of the statues of the goddess <Astarte> in her temple, her/its red robe is like a those of the gods of the Kakkabites [Carthaginians]" (both of these from Krahmalkov's Phoenician-Punic Dictionary).[16] Further, In Schmidtz's 2016 treatment of the text, he reinterprets the string bmtnʼ bbt (translated above and commonly as "as an offering in the temple") as bmt n' bbt to mean "at the death of (the) Handsome (one) [=Adonis]."[17]

Etruscan text[edit]

First plate[edit]

This partial English translation is generally speculative. Line breaks are indicated with / with line numbers in superscript immediately following.[18] Note that Schmitz has pointed out that "Etruscologists...dispute nearly every word in the Etruscan texts."[19]

Ita . tmia . icac . he/2ramašva vatieχe /3 unialastres . θemia /4 sa . meχ . θuta
This temple and sacred buildings have been requested by Uni...having been built at his own cost, (?)
θefa/5riei velianas sal /6 cluvenias turu/7ce .
Tiberius Velianas ...has given (it) as an offering(?), (or "according to her own (sal) wishes (cluvenias))[20]
munistas . θuvas /7 tameresca .
(as) custodian(?) of the place(?) of the cella (or "the funeral chamber" tameres-ca)[21]
ilacve ./8 tulerase .
during the feast of the month of Tuler
nac . ci . avi/9l . χurvar . tešiameit/10ale .
when three years (were) full (?) from the day of Tesiamet
ilacve. alšase/11
on the feast of (the month) Alsasa
nac . atranes . zilac/12al . seleitala acnašv/13ers .
when the atranes of the magistrate (was??) (the) great acnasvers
Itanim . heram/14ve . avil . eniaca . pul/15umχva
Indeed, in this sanctuary, the years are (going to be) as many as the stars.

Second plate[edit]

nac . θefarie . vel/1iiunas . θamuce /2 cleva . etanal/3
When Tiberius Velianas had built the cleva ("altar(s)"? desiderata?) of etan (epithet of Uni?)[22]
masan . tiur /4 unias . šelace .
he dedicated (šela-ce) an offering during the month (tiur) of Juno.
v/5acal . tmial . a/6vilχval . amu/7ce . pulumχv/8a . snuiaφ .
The yearly (avil-χva-l literally "of the years") offerings for the temple were (to be like the) eternal (snuiaφ?) stars.

Notes: Wylin translates šelace vacal tmial (4-5) as "has ratified the offering of the temple."[23] However, Steinbauer (agreeing with Rix) has challenged this assumptions and, considering that it seems to be positioned at the beginning of a series of phrases within the contexts of a step-by-step instruction in the Liber Linteus, proposed that vacal (with its variants vacil and vacl) simply means "then."[24]

A minimalist 'translation' drawing only on well established meanings of Etruscan words, and not depending on the Phoenician text (which is often itself uncertain, see above, and is, in any case, not a word for word translation) has been presented by Adiego:

This tmia- and the herama, which were ...-ed from the part of Uni, Thefarie Velianas, ...ing the meχ θuta, gave to her, the cluvenia- (or: to his cluvenia-), to/of the muni θuva, that from the chamber (?) in the day-ilacv tuleras-, when three years χurvar. In the day-ilacv the tešiam(a)- alsaš-, when of the zilaχ-magistracy atrane, that sele acnavers, and this(?)/thus...-ed the year eniaca the pulum-s.
When Thefarie Veliiunas ...-ed a cleva-offering etenal masan the month unias ...-ed, vacal the pulum-s of the years of the tmia- were sniuaφ.[25]

Supplementary Etruscan Texts[edit]

Inscription on a bronze tablet at Pyrgi[edit]

These were much more damaged than the gold tablets above.[26] Cr 4.3:

[...]atalen[----]s tin[--
[----]e[...] spuria[z]es . tera[s] spu[r]iaze[...]
u]neial var θvarie χia uneial χias
tin[...]talenas seas tinas θvarienas [...]e[...]ur
...]ar[...]ra[...]il[...]a[...]p[...

Cr 4.2

eta : θesan:e:tras u:niiaθi ha[...]
hutilatina e:tiasas: a:calia[...]
θanaχ:vilus caθar:naial[...]

Deities mentioned here include Catha, Thesan, Uni Chia, Tina Atalena Sea, Tina Thvariena, and Spuriaze.[27]

Inscriptions on vessels found in the sanctuary at Pyrgi[edit]

1 ]tmia[ 2 ]usa[
n32, fragment of a vase, VI
unial
(div) patera, or plate V TLE 877
unial
(div) patera, or plate V REE 40 n54
  • ]starte/s/ [?] cve[r ]starte/ /
(div?) fragment of a vase, or vessel IV REE 56 n31
mi : s'uris : cavaθas
(div)patera, or plate V REE 64 n36
]cavaθas 2]a emini[
(div)Greek kylix, V REE 56 n24[28]

Lead tablet from the temple of Minerva at Castrum Novum (near Pyrgi) (CIE 6310)[edit]

Side 1:[29]

MMMCCC lan[-]mite . [
...]inia . tei . a emei ca . zu[-]una . za[...
a . icecin . ezi . ip[...]unu . rapa . [-]um[...
...]ipas . [-]in[...]ver . mulven[...
...] . nuna ("offering")[...] nun . ena . t[...
...]e . hu[...]al . nun ena .
...]ur . t[...]na . vacil . c[...


...]pulunza . ipal . sac ("holy")[...
...]talte . acni talte . iu[...
...]umnle[...]menatina . te[---]un[...
...]us . -u--helucu . acasa . tei . luru[...
...]t[...-]sice . lanumite . icana[...
...]aei . tesa . nac[...]ce . mulv[...
...]ur . t[...]na . vacil . c[
...]pa . mlaka [....]ama .

Side 2:

...]ite . icec[......] civeis . m[...
...] . unue . ha[...]u . eizurva . t[...
...]n[-]va . mlacia . hecia ("to do, place") . iperi . apa ("father")[...
...]esunamul ame
...]iama . im[...]nuta : h[...
...] . rin[...]v . a emeican . s[-]uinia . ip[...
...]t[-]as . [...]n[-]e . nacarsurveclesvare[...

Notes: Words also occurring in the gold Pyrgi Tablets are in bold: pulun/m "star(s)?); vaci/al "sacrifice/libation" , or "then"; nac "when." Words and sequences recurring within the text are in italics: lan(u)mite ?; a emei ca . z/suu/ina ? (ca "this"); mul-v- "to offer"; nun ena "offering" (nun?) "some" (ena?); ip-eri/-unu/-al (relative pronoun?)'; mlaka/cia "beautiful"; te-i (demonstrative pronoun); am-e/-a "be"; ac-ni/-asa ("to do, offer"); talte (< talitha "girl"??); icec-in, icana- ? (< ic "as"??).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Doak, Brian R. (2019). The Oxford Handbook of the Phoenician and Punic Mediterranean. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-19-049934-1.
  2. ^ The specific dialect has been called "Mediterranean Phoenician" by Schmitz, Philip C. (1995). "The Phoenician Text from the Etruscan Sanctuary at Pyrgi". Journal of the American Oriental Society. JSTOR. 115 (4): 559–575. doi:10.2307/604727. ISSN 0003-0279. JSTOR 604727. Full bibliography of Pyrgi and the tablets
  3. ^ Pallottino, M. The Etruscans. Trans. J. Cremona. Indiana UP, Bloomington and London. 1975. p. 90
  4. ^ Smith, C. "The Pyrgi Tablets and the View From Rome" in Le Lamine di Pyrgi eds V. Bellelli and P. Xella, Verona, 2016. p. 203-221
  5. ^ Smith, C. "The Pyrgi Tablets and the View From Rome" in Le Lamine di Pyrgi eds V. Bellelli and P. Xella, Verona, 2016. p. 203-221
  6. ^ Schmidtz, Philip Ch. " Sempre Pyrgi: A retraction and a Reassessment of the Phoenician Text" in Le lamine di Pyrgi: Nuovi studi sulle iscizione in etrusco e in fenicio nel cinquantenario della scoperta eds. Vincenzo Bellelli and Paolo Xella. Verona, 2016. pp. 33-43
  7. ^ Schmidtz, Philip Ch. " Sempre Pyrgi: A retraction and a Reassessment of the Phoenician Text" in Le lamine di Pyrgi: Nuovi studi sulle iscizione in etrusco e in fenicio nel cinquantenario della scoperta eds. Vincenzo Bellelli and Paolo Xella. Verona, 2016. pp. 33-43
  8. ^ Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis. The Linen Book of Zagreb: A Comment on the
Longest Etruscan Text. By L.B. VAN DER MEER. (Monographs on Antiquity.) Louvain: Peeters, 2007
  9. ^ Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis. The Linen Book of Zagreb: A Comment on the
Longest Etruscan Text. By L.B. VAN DER MEER. (Monographs on Antiquity.) Louvain: Peeters, 2007
  10. ^ Zamora, José Á. "Pyrgi Revisited: An Analysis of the Structure and Formulae of the Phoenician Text of Pyrgi" in Le lamine di Pyrgi: Nuovi studi sulle iscrizioni in etrusco e in fenicio nel cinquantenario della scoperta. Editors: Vincenzo Bellelli e Paolo Xella. 2015-2016. pp. 69-79 SEL STUDI EPIGRAFICI E LINGUISTICI sul Vicino Oriente antico NUOVA SERIE: Ricerche storiche e filologiche sulle culture del Vicino Oriente e del Mediterraneo antico
  11. ^ Zamora, José Á. "Pyrgi Revisited: An Analysis of the Structure and Formulae of the Phoenician Text of Pyrgi" in Le lamine di Pyrgi: Nuovi studi sulle iscrizioni in etrusco e in fenicio nel cinquantenario della scoperta. Editors: Vincenzo Bellelli e Paolo Xella. 2015-2016. p. 77. SEL STUDI EPIGRAFICI E LINGUISTICI sul Vicino Oriente antico NUOVA SERIE: Ricerche storiche e filologiche sulle culture del Vicino Oriente e del Mediterraneo antico
  12. ^ Transcription from Hildegard Temporini, Joseph Vogt, Wolfgang Haase. 1972. Aufsteig und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, vol. 2, part 25. P.201. Also, along with the original Phoenician letters, in Haarmann, Harald. 1996. Early Civilization and Literacy in Europe: An Inquiry into Cultural Continuity in the Mediterranean World. P.355
  13. ^ Schmitz, P. 1995 "The Phoenician Text from the Etruscan Sanctuary at Pyrgi." Journal of the American Oriental Society 15:562.
  14. ^ Lopez, Jose Angel Zamora. 2016. "Pyrgi Revisited. An Analysis into the Structure and Formulae of Pyrgi’s Phoenician Text" pp. 69-79 in Le lamine di Pyrgi Nuovi studi sulle iscrizioni in etrusco ein fenicio nel cinquantenario della scoperta. Eds: Vincenzo Bellelli and Paolo Xella. SELSTUDI EPIGRAFICI E LINGUISTICI sul Vicino Oriente antico NUOVA SERIE: Ricerche storiche e filologiche sulle culture del Vicino Oriente e del Mediterraneo antico 32-33. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292989034_Pyrgi_Revisited_An_Analysis_into_the_Structure_and_Formulae_of_Pyrgi's_Phoenician_Text
  15. ^ For a relatively recent analysis of the inscription and summary of the various scholarly interpretations, see Schmitz, P. 1995 "The Phoenician Text from the Etruscan Sanctuary at Pyrgi." Journal of the American Oriental Society 15:559-575.
  16. ^ Krahmalkov, C. R. Phoenician-Punic Dictionary Leuven, 2000. pp. 230, 475
  17. ^ Schmidtz, Philip Ch. " Sempre Pyrgi: A retraction and a Reassessment of the Phoenician Text" in Le lamine di Pyrgi: Nuovi studi sulle iscizione in etrusco e in fenicio nel cinquantenario della scoperta eds. Vincenzo Bellelli and Paolo Xella. Verona, 2016. pp. 33-43
  18. ^ Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis. The Linen Book of Zagreb: A Comment on the Longest Etruscan Text. By L.B. VAN DER MEER. (Monographs on Antiquity.) Louvain: Peeters, 2007. pp171-172
  19. ^ Schmitz, P. 1995 "The Phoenician Text from the Etruscan Sanctuary at Pyrgi." Journal of the American Oriental Society 15:559-60
  20. ^ Koen Wylin "Pyrgi B et la rédaction de la Tabula Cortonensis" In: Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire, tome 84, fasc. 1, 2006. Antiquité - Oudheid. pp. 35-44; p. 41. doi : https://doi.org/10.3406/rbph.2006.5004. https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/3000456/file/8733510.pdf
  21. ^ Agostiniani, L. "Sul valore semantico delle formule etrusche 'tamera zelarvenas' e 'tamera šarvenas'," in A. Catagnoti et alia (ed.s), Studi linguistici offerti a Gabriella Giacomelli dagli amici e dagli allievi. Padova, 1997. pp. 1-18
  22. ^ Koen Wylin "Pyrgi B et la rédaction de la Tabula Cortonensis" In: Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire, tome 84, fasc. 1, 2006. Antiquité - Oudheid. pp. 35-44; pp. 41-43. doi : https://doi.org/10.3406/rbph.2006.5004. https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/3000456/file/8733510.pdf
  23. ^ Koen Wylin "Pyrgi B et la rédaction de la Tabula Cortonensis" In: Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire, tome 84, fasc. 1, 2006. Antiquité - Oudheid. pp. 35-44; p. 40. doi : https://doi.org/10.3406/rbph.2006.5004. https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/3000456/file/8733510.pdf
  24. ^ Steinbauer, D. Neues Handbuch des Etruskischen, St. Katherine, 1999. pp. 86-87
  25. ^ Adiego, I-X. "The Etruscan Texts of the Pyrgi Golden Tablets: Certainties and Uncertainties." in Le lamine di Pyrgi: Nuovi studi sulle iscizione in etrusco e in fenicio nel cinquantenario della scoperta eds. Vincenzo Bellelli and Paolo Xella. Verona, 2016. p. 155
  26. ^ Belfiore, V. "nuovi spunti di riflessione sulle lamine di Pyrgi in etrusco" in Le Lamine di Pyrgi eds V. Bellelli and P. Xella, Verona, 2016. p. 125
  27. ^ Smith, C. "The Pyrgi Tablets and the View From Rome" in Le Lamine di Pyrgi eds V. Bellelli and P. Xella, Verona, 2016. p. 206
  28. ^ Source for the Pyrgi inscriptions :"Iscrizioni Etrusche". Archived from the original on 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  29. ^ Source for the Pyrgi inscriptions :"Iscrizioni Etrusche". Archived from the original on 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2012-02-26.

References[edit]

  • Massimo Pittau (1996): "Gli Etruschi e Cartagine: i documenti epigrafici". L'Africa romana: atti dell'11. Convegno di studio, 15-18 dicembre 1994, Cartagine, Tunisia. Sassari, Editrice Il torchietto. V. 3, p. 1657-1674.
  • Giovanni Colonna (2000): Il santuario di Pyrgi dalle origini mitistoriche agli altorilievi dei Sette e di Leucoteia. Roma; Università degli studi di Roma La Sapienza.

External links[edit]