Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.07.04

Giovanni Colonna, Daniele F. Maras, Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum, Academiis Litterarum Borussica et Saxonica legatum, Carolus Pauli primum edidit. Voluminis secundi, Instituti Studiis Etruscis et Italicis Provehendis et Academiae Scientiarum Berolinensis et Brandenburgensis communi opera et studio resumpti prolatique, Instituto Studiis de Gentibus Italiae Marisque Mediterranei Antiqui Provehendis Italicis Scientiis Pervestigandis Consilii curante. Sectionis I, Fasciculum 5 (Tit. 6325-6723) et additamentum Sectionis II, Fasciculi 1 (Tit. 8881-8927). Inscriptiones Veiis et in agro veientano, nepesino sutrinoque repertae, additis illis in agro capenate et falisco inventis, quae in fasciculo CIE II, 2, 1 desunt, nec non illis perpaucis in finitimis sabinis repertis.   Pisa-Rome:  Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 2006.  Pp. viii, 140; figs. 37, b/w pls.  ISBN 10: 88-8147-452-3.  ISBN 13: 978-88-8147-452-3.  €800.00.  



Reviewed by Jean MacIntosh Turfa, University of Pennsylvania Museum (jturfa@sas.upenn.edu)
Word count: 2581 words

As the full title indicates, this paper-bound volume of the CIE continues in the full classical style (and size: 28 x 39 cm) of the original series, with images, facsimiles and terse Latin descriptions of all entries. All inscriptions are assigned permanent inventory numbers in the CIE series, which (including other volumes) has now reached over 12,000 items of the 7th through 1st centuries BC. (Note that here, to expedite online reading, I have transliterated Etruscan characters, so all sibilants are S, chi = ch and theta = th.)

This fascicule in Section 1 (southern and coastal Etruria) comprises the region of Veii, but since the finds did not fill an entire volume, it also contains addenda identified after the publication of Volume II fasc. 2,1, from the Faliscan, Capenate and Sabine territories. By chance, most inscriptions are of the Archaic period, although some, mainly bronzes and vases, are more recent. Below I indicate some of the archaeological background of the inscriptions.

Entries 6325-6660 are from the region of Veii: vases from contexts both votive and domestic at Piazza d'Armi (6325-28) and Piano di Comunità (6329-34, excavated in 2001); and finds, mainly vases, from cult sites including Campetti, Macchiagrande and Vignacce (6344-96). Excavated since 1914, the famous Portonaccio sanctuary has furnished vases with votive dedications (6397-6479) and a series of painted letters and numbers on architectural terracottas from the 6th-century temple demolition deposit (6480-6660). A few items come from the necropoleis surrounding Veii (6661-74), and finds from regional surveys and museums complete the collection (6675-6715); two (6712-13) are attributed by C. to Veii on the basis of epigraphic style.

Other inscriptions are from the territories of Nepi (6716-20), Sutri (6721-23), Capena and Lucus Feroniae (8881-88), Falerii (8889-98), Narce (8899-8906), Corchiano (8907-22), Vignanello (8923-25) and the Sabine territory (including Poggio Sommavilla, 8926-27). A few entries are forgeries of engraved mirrors, here labeled as such -- note the heavier black border on the column entries: 8886, 8897-98. For background on 8886, one of ten modern copies of the Peleus and Thetis mirror in the British Museum, see J. Swaddling, CSE Great Britain 1, I, 30.

Apart from vases and the Portonaccio terracottas, inscriptions appear on textile implements (spool-like rocchetti, a spindle whorl), a loom weight from Macchiagrande (6366), two gems, a candelabrum, ten mirrors (of which three are forgeries), the stone cuttings of sunken roads at Montesantangelo and Corchiano (6707, 8919), the wall of a tomb at Veii, and a tile from a tomb at Nepi.

C. (3-16) has written a wonderfully concise and inclusive history of Veii from the Protovillanovan period on, with classical references noted as well as the modern discovery of various sanctuaries and necropoleis, and state-of-the-art bibliography. See 15-16 on Veientine dialect and orthography, including the distinctive cross-shaped archaic sibilant. Old maps, usually culled from original excavation reports, are very useful, although some, as 99 fig. 14 (Nazzano), are essentially unlabeled, since no key to the numbers of the original is provided, and we are referred to a source publication.

The Portonaccio site had a long history, beginning with (traces of) a Villanovan hut-village and an Orientalizing cult, now mostly obscured due to late 6th-century temple-building. Even after the destruction of Veii in 396 BC, the site was still used, as attested by later terracotta statues, figurines and even anatomical votives. (Dedications were still inscribed in Etruscan during the mid-4th century, and at the Campetti sanctuary of the goddess Vei (Ceres) Etruscan continued to the mid-3rd century.) The profile of offerings is a close match to that of nearby Latin shrines, including Rome Sant'Omobono and Lavinium. The archaic cult received a staggering number of bucchero vessels, and many items offered by women, such as weaving utensils, fibulae and jewelry. It is surprising that so few female names are attested, apart from goddesses. (Two "Tanaquils" are from different contexts, 6703, 6712.) Although demonstrably patronized by the men of action of the 6th century, the Portonaccio shrine has almost no dedications of arms (a mere two spears are known from Pallottino's early excavations.)

Scholars contemplating early Roman history will find precious evidence in the documents of archaic Etruria, such as votives dedicated by historical personages at the Portonaccio sanctuary. The condottieri (who probably included Tarquinius before he became Priscus) of the restless late 7th-6th centuries are represented by a bucchero chalice (6456, ca. 550 BC) dedicated by Aulus Vibenna: mine muluv[an]ece .a.vile vipiie.n.na.s. "Avile Vipiennas has dedicated me." C. postulated (in Civiltà degli Etruschi, M. Cristofani (ed.), Milan 1985: 277) a true school of scribes at Veii, characterized by the distinctive syllabic punctuation and neat lettering seen in Vibenna's offering and many others. His and other names are spelled phonetically, as if speakers prolonged the nasal of Vibe-nn-a (see D.F. Maras in G. Colonna [ed.], Il santuario di Portonaccio a Veio. I. = MonAnt ser. misc. 6,3, Rome 2002: 261-273). Many of these aristocratic dedications occurred before the temple was erected.

Even better represented in the Portonaccio votives is the Tulumnes family, known for the 5th-century King Tolumnius who precipitated conflicts with Rome (Livy 4.17ff). In this CIE (6454, 6419) are two gifts of bucchero jugs, by Karcuna and Velthur Tulumnes. Published elsewhere are the gifts of a later 4th-century, Latin-speaking family member, L. Tolonios (ILLRP 64 and 237, to Menrva at Portonaccio and Ceres at the Campetti sanctuary).

Other inscriptions show the varied ethnicity of worshippers at this shrine, such as bucchero oinochoe 6416, dedicated by Aville Acvilnas (Italic: Aulus Aquilius), who left nearly identical dedications (including punctuation) on two oinochoai in his native(?) Vulci (Etruskische Texte Vc 3.4-5). Other names in the Portonaccio deposit show men of Chiusine and Italic origin, and the Veientine necropoleis show Latin ethnics settled among the families of Veii (6671, bucchero amphora in a tomb at Picazzano, inscribed mi tites latines).

The Portonaccio cult, too often known by its Apollo acroterion, received numerous dedications to Menrva (at least seven Attic and Etruscan vases), and there may have been other goddesses as well, such as Aritimi/Artemis and Turan/Aphrodite, according to 6414, a bucchero vessel. Another offering, a bucchero box (6436) dedicated by Laris Velkasnas was possibly intended to hold sortes for divination. It may show an oracular character to this cult. See also J. Gran-Aymerich, "Les vases céramiques et la place du bucchero dans les depots votifs et les sanctuaires," in F. Gaultier and D. Briquel (eds.), Les Étrusques, les plus religieux des hommes. État de la recherche sur la religion étrusque, Paris 1997: 117-136, on the long duration of dedications in bucchero at Etruscan shrines.

From mid-7th century on, literacy seems to have been a given among the urban technical classes of Etruria. C. is the authority on early artisans' signatures, and this volume is relatively rich in evidence. The phenomenon is an early one in Italy, with the oldest mechanically registered (cylinder-stamped) name that of Larice Crepu, who apparently made large relief-decorated vases at San Giovenale in the 7th century BC. (Not in this CIE: see G. Colonna, "Larice Crepu vasaio a San Giovenale," in Ultra Terminum Vagari. Studi in onore di Carl Nylander, Rome 1997: 61-76.)

Here, a first, is the artisan's "signature" stamped on a tile used in a tomb at Nepi (6719). Written left to right, it proclaims: mi cusul puiunal -- "I am [made by] Cusu, slave of Puiuna." Dated by C. to the late 6th century BC, it is the oldest extant mechanically inscribed tile. (Servile labor in Etruria is first attested by inscriptions of the mid-7th century, such as the term kvsnailise, "in the workshop of Cusnai" painted on a Caeretan White-on-Red pyxis, the name-vase of the Pittore della Nascita di Menrva.) Note that both these shop/slave-owners, like Numnei of Hellenistic Orvieto, are women: see G. Colonna, "Ceramisti e donne padrone di bottega nell'Etruria arcaica," in Indogermanica et Italica. Festschrift für Helmut Rix zum 65. Geburtstag, Innsbruck 1993: 61-68.

Several vases proclaim that they were either "painted"/"inscribed" (8885 mi arathiale zichuche, from Capena) or "made" (6673 zinache, on a vase with an incantation and abecedarium, see below). On 6675, an impasto oinochoe from Veii, now in Würzburg, mi mamarce zinace probably means that Mamarce (whose name is of Italic origin) incised the lively warrior and horse beneath his inscription.

Most important is the signature mi zinace velth[ur a]ncinie.s incised boustrophedon across the painted panther on an Etrusco-Corinthian phiale by a student of the prolific Pittore dei Rosoni of Vulci (6449). The vase was found at the Portonaccio, where a Laris Lethaies dedicated it (mis-spelling mini nuluvanice all over an adjacent painted boar). Velthur Ancinies is thus our earliest named vase-painter among the attributed fabrics/workshops of archaic Etruria (given that the "Aristonothos" krater is the sole example of that artist's work).

At the Portonaccio there is also rich evidence for the use of writing in the building trade and potential evidence for methods of design and assembly of monumental structures in the 6th century in the architectural terracottas buried after the temple was demolished (6480-6660). Painted on the backs of many fragments are numerals or combinations of one to three letters, some running left to right instead of the usual "retrograde" of Etruscan. Some pieces of the cornice with openwork cresting have a syllable painted on the outer face. Four different molding/sima types and revetment plaques were used on the gable façade, and G. De Vita de Angelis (Studi Etruschi 36, 1968: 403-449) suggested that three-letter signs may have been used on the left side and two-letter on the right. (The angle-piece at the summit of the gable is preserved, but there is little indication of how plaques were originally placed.) Numerals run from at least II to XVII, but the fragmentary nature of pieces means that some numbers were larger than preserved. Two- and three-letter syllables are not the words for numbers, but ascending combinations: ca-ce-ci-cu, cra-cre-cri-cru etc. Bases for the famous acroterial statues also had dipinti such as he, ne, tu (or zu?).

Etruria embraced literacy quite early and plenty of its proponents were women. A fine set of six rocchetti, specialized weaving weights, incised with A on one end (6662-67) come from Casale del Fosso tomb 870 (ca. 700 BC). Abecedaria further illustrate the cachet of the alphabet, and are sometimes associated with odd inscriptions that sound like incantations, such as mi ati anaia achapri alice venelusi -- velthur zinace azaruazaruazaruas ("Mother Anaia has given me [achapri?] to Venel. Velthur made me"), on a late 7th-century bucchero amphora (6673) from the same tomb as the Chigi Vase.

Many votives show the format, common in 7th-century aristocratic gift-giving, of "oggetti parlanti" that seem to say "I was given to X." Formulae like mini muluvanike began early and continued for many generations. A frequent term is mlach or mlaka "beautiful" as on 6674, an amphora from a tomb at Monte Campanile, which also has an abecedarium and more.

Urban domestic contexts excavated on Piazza d'Armi provided the base of a large 7th-century olla (6325) inscribed with a version of the phrase mlach mlakas, "a beautiful gift for a beautiful recipient." It reads (left to right) "I am the thina [cf. Greek dinos] of Racunthi Tipei" -- mi raq[u]nthia tipeia thina malach [malaka]si ita mena[q]u. Racunthi's family name may show Anatolian and servile ancestry, according to C. (REE 2002: 351-357 no. 71) and this gift probably commemorated her status as a materfamilias in charge of the family wine stores. Apparently the presentation formulae of the Orientalizing elite evolved into the votive syntax of 6th-century cults, as seen in two fine bucchero vases placed in the Portonaccio early in the 6th century (6405, 6424). Both have the mlach mlakas formula, and 6405 states also that mini thanirsiie turice hvuluves ("Thanirsie Fulve has dedicated me").

In the votive deposits at Veii and elsewhere, many sigla, including A's, stars, etc., are found on the bottoms of cups (Macchiagrande: 6352-96); one bucchero chalice also had a caricature graffito of a profile human head (6356). Note for 6341 the corrected reading of a rare inscription on a terracotta votive model knee found in the vicinity of the Veii-Campetti sanctuary: mi f ... perhaps mi fleres "I am the statue ..." (See references at 6341, also J.M. Turfa in ThesCRA I [2004]: 359 no. 304.)

The CIE was in preparation for many years, and it is very convenient to find all the inscriptions from Veii now assembled in one place. While it was in preparation, 6712, an unusual bucchero chalice-sherd, was cleaned, photographed and returned to display in the University of Pennsylvania Museum (not Pennsylvania University Museum, as in the concordance, p. 135, although the Latin entry is correct). Since the cleaning removed some old mounting wax, and the tracings in CIE are much larger than actual size (6.7 cm pres. ht.), please see the new photo and drawing in J.M. Turfa, Catalogue of the Etruscan Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia 2005: 138 no. 100. C. attributes the inscription to Veii on the basis of its distinctive, neat letter forms. The name was incised within a rectangular frame, perhaps after the vase was broken, so that a sherd could be used as a label for some other item. The hand, however, is quite close to that of the word asu written by the artist behind the sphinx incised on the exterior of the chalice.

Of inscriptions from the other regions, 6721 (Sutri), a 3rd-century stone wall block found reused in Roman hydraulic masonry, shows a name running from the short side onto the long side: Velthur Atinas Caisrs Larz?l. The cognomen Caizras may suggest a hometown, Caere, and the formula either cites a zilath (praetor) or the name Larzile.

From the Faliscan territory, note the fine mirror 8896, with wedding of Admetus and Alcestis now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York: it illustrates one of the strange clawed hook-implements used as torch-holders, not flesh-hooks as so long imagined. (It is published by L. Bonfante, CSE USA 3, no. 6a.) A bronze 4th-century candelabrum (8918) from a tomb at Corchiano may have ramifications for funerary cult, if Maras' interpretation of the last word in lusl lrtla vatlmi faste as referring to "a place consecrated to the gods" is correct (see Maras in ParPass 53, 1998: 321-351).

One inscription from Sabine territory (Poggio Sommavilla, 8926) preserves evidence of Etruscan commerce: an Attic krater with commercial note culcna XI, which must derive from kylix but is used generically for "vase". The acceptance of the Etruscan alphabet for the recording of Italic inscriptions is likely in the fragmentary 8927, from a vase of the 4th-3rd century found in a tomb.

Unfortunately, some of the photos have rubbed off dark shadows on the opposite plates, but it is a beautiful book, and reference volumes of this type are rarely issued today. At a time when the academic community needs to become more aware of the breadth of their Etruscan heritage, though, I fear that the formal, elegant format, Latin recording, and desperately high cost of such basic reference tools as the CIE may exclude many students and historians from the opportunity to engage with such vital material evidence. Yet the value of consulting the facsimile drawings and photographs (even if not to scale) as presented in the Corpus of inscriptions, is evident, for it reveals that the Vibenna men prized literacy but hired (or owned) professional scribes, and that affluent ladies' slaves ran their tile factories. Surely such immediacy will always be essential to epigraphy.

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