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The Garigliano Bowl Inscription – A Tribute to Dioscuri?

The Garigliano Bowl is a small impasto bowl with a bucchero glaze, believed to have been created around 500 BC. lt was found along the river Garigliano, situated between the regions of Lazio and Campania in Italy, near the ancient city of Minturnae (modern Minturno).

The bowl bears one of the earliest known inscriptions in the Latin language, making it a crucial artifact for understanding the development and spread of Latin in ancient Italy.

The common reading of the inscription is:

A: AHUIDIES
B: NEI[- – -]PARIMEDESOMKOMMEOISSOKIOISTRIVOIADDEOMDUO

Most scholars agree that AHUIDIES is a personal name, while ESOM KOM MEOIS SOKIOIS part means “I am with my companions”. The rest is controversial.

Brent vine’s interpretation goes as follows:

Archaic Latin text: NEI PARI MED ESOM KOM MEOIS SOKIOIS TRIFOS AUDEOM DUO[M]
English translation: Do not take me! I am with my three companions (property) of the two Audii.

My Translation of the Garigliano Bowl

In my division of the text, the word NEI is not first but last and I am not the first person to propose this theory. It is clear even from a brief look at the image that the creator intended to inscribe the text in a circular pattern along the rim but ran out of space. As a result, the inscription had to be extended, and the letters NEI ended up above the initial word ‘PARI.’ Before the letters NEI, a few letters are missing, because the bowl is damaged.

My reading would therefore look like this:

A: AHUIDIES
B: PARIMEDESOMKOMMEOISSOKIOISTRIVOIADDEOMDUONEI

Translation:

AHUIDIES – OVIDIES

PARI MED – PROTECT ME
ESOM KOM MEOIS SOKIOIS – I AM WITH MY COMPANIONS

TRIVOI AD DEOM DUO(SKUR)NEI – TRIBUTE TO THE GODS DIOSCURI

Each Line Explained

AHUIDIES – OVIDIES (Ovidius)

Most scholars agree that this is a personal name. Some of the proposed variants are (AfidiusAvidiusAfiedius, AufidiusAufiediusOfdiusAlfidius). In my opinion, this are all just variants of an early, and well-attested Latin name Ovidius. See here.

PARI MED – PROTECT ME

The word MED is not problematic as it appears in many of the early Latin inscriptions, and it is a general consensus that it meant “me”.

On the other hand, I the word PARI is far more problematic. My translation is unique and I based it on the Latin word “pareo” which meant “to protect”.

ESOM KOM MEOIS SOKIOIS – I AM WITH MY COMPANIONS

ESOM: the first person singular of the verb “to be”.
KOM: Likely a preposition or adverb, resembling “cum” in Classical Latin, which means “with.”
MEOIS: A form of the possessive adjective “meus,” meaning “my” in Classical Latin, but in an archaic or dialectal form that differs from the standard.
SOKIOIS: This seems to be an early or dialectal form of “sociis,” the ablative plural of “socius,” meaning “companions” or “allies” in Classical Latin. See here.

TRIVOI AD DEOM DUO(SKUR)NEI – TRIBUTE TO THE GODS DIOSCURI

TRIVOI: My translation of this line of the text is unique for every word. I connect the word TRIVOI with later Latin “tribus, tribuo”, meaning “to grant, to bestow – tribute”.
AD: This is a Latin preposotion meaning “to, for”. See here.
DEOM: “Deom” could be a dative plural form of “deus,” meaning “god,” though the standard form would be “deis” or “diis.” 
DUOSKURNEI: I believe that the missing letters are “SKUR”. In Latin, the word would be written as “Dioscuri,” referring to Castor and Pollux.

In ancient times, the Dioscuri, also known as Castor and Pollux, were revered as protectors and helpers of humankind in various aspects. They were especially known for their role in aiding sailors and travelers. Their mythology included themes of brotherhood, loyalty, and the righting of wrongs, which resonated with many people, regardless of their social status.

Unlike some deities who were worshipped in grand temples and required elaborate rituals, the worship of the Dioscuri was more accessible. They were worshipped at crossroads, where simple shrines could be set up, and offerings could be made without the need for elaborate ceremonies. This accessibility made them particularly appealing to the lower classes, who might not have had the resources or time to participate in the more demanding aspects of state religion.

Moreover, another one of the earliest Latin inscriptions, from the same period as the Garigliano bowl is a dedication to Castor an Pollux from Lavinium. It contains the phrase “Castorei Podlouqueique / Qurois“. This inscription indicates a clear influence from Greek culture as the term “qurois” stands the Greek word “κούροις,” – “youths”, while “Podlouquei” closely resembles the Greek “Πολυδεύκης.

Additionally, this inscription is important as it denotes the period when the twin gods became part of Roman culture. Romans will worship them for over a thousand years. In the 5th-century, Pope Gelasius I who mentiones the enduring “cult of Castores,” which the people were “hesitant to abandon”.

Coincidentally, another ancient bowl bears a striking resemblance to the Garigliano bowl. It dates to the same period as the previous inscriptions, but this one is written in Etruscan. It is a dedication to Dioscuri who are mentioned as Tinas Cliniar – meaning “Heavenly Twins”, or “Sons of Tinia”.

These bowls were a popular choice for votive tributes because of the ritual known as theoxenia, which means “entertaining gods”, and was particularly associated with Castor and Pollux. In this practice, people invited these two gods to a table set with food. This invitation could take place in private homes or in communal spaces like public hearths, or similar areas overseen by the authorities.

Final thoughts

In summary, it seems that the inscription on the Garigliano Bowl is a dedication to the Dioscuri, made by someone named Ovidius, placed in a modest public sanctuary. It appears to be a plea for safeguarding him and those who journey with him.

The timing of this inscription aligns precisely with the earliest documented Latin references to the Dioscuri and the initiation of a millennium-long veneration of the Heavenly Twins. This worship even echoes in Rome’s origin story, symbolized by the twins Romulus and Remus.

The item bearing the inscription was a simple bowl, utilized for the theoxenia ritual, and probably offered by ordinary individuals, possibly soldiers or merchants.

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The Duenos Inscription Revisited

The Duenos Inscription is one of the earliest known examples of the Latin language. Discovered in Rome, this inscription dates back to the 6th century BCE, making it a critical artifact for linguists and historians studying the development of Latin and its script.

The inscription is written in the Old Latin alphabet, which slightly predates the Classical Latin alphabet most are familiar with today. The text of the Duenos Inscription is inscribed on a small pottery vessel, known as a kernos, which was often used in religious rituals.

The exact meaning of the inscription has been a subject of debate among scholars, partly because the language it uses is archaic and not fully understood. However, it is generally agreed that the text is of a ritualistic or votive nature.

My transcription the Duenos Inscription

The Wikipedia article offers some good examples of the previous attempts to translate this text. I find them quite imaginative and outdated, and I will not waste time on them here.

The inscription is usually transcribed as:

Line 1: IOVESATDEIVOSQOIMEDMITATNEITEDENDOCOSMISVIRCOSIED
Line 2: ASTEDNOISIOPETOITESIAIPAKARIVOIS
Line 3: DVENOSMEDFECEDENMANOMEINOMDVENOINEMEDMALOSTATOD

In the version I transcribed, there are only three discrepancies. For each of these, I interpreted what appears to be the letter ‘D’ as ‘R’. I made this choice for two reasons: firstly, the letters ‘D’ and ‘R’ bear a close resemblance to each other (‘D-P’). Secondly, using ‘D’ in these instances results in words that are nonsensical, whereas substituting them with ‘R’ produces coherent words.

Line 1: IOVESATDEIVOSQOIMEDMITATNEITERENDOCOSMISVIRCOSIED
Line 2: ASTERNOISIOPETOITESIAIPAKARIVOIS
Line 3: DVENOSMEDFECEDENMANOMEINOMDVENOINEMEDMALOSTATOR

My Translation of the Duenos Inscription

Now, with my spacings, the translated text looks like this:

IOVE SAT DEI
To gods Jupiter (and) Saturn, 
VOSQOI MED MITATNE ITER 
for you, I was placed on this road,
ENDO COSMIS VIRCOSIED
and for the cosmic virgins… 

ASTERNOISI OPE
…Astraea and Ops,
TOITESIAI PAKARIVOIS
by the Pacarius clan.

DVENOS MED FECEDEN MANOME
Duenos made me with his own hands
INOM DVENOI NE MED MALOSTATOR
In the name of Duenos, don’t harm me.

Each line of the text explained

IOVE SAT DEI
To gods Jupiter and Saturn,

Comment: This is a concise and clear invocation of the two main gods of the ancient Roman pantheon. “Iove” for Jupiter is good. “Sat” as an abbreviation for Saturn works, and “Dei” appropriately denotes “gods.”

VOSQOI MED MITATNE ITER
for you, I was placed on this road

Comment: “VOSQOI” for “for you” is a unique choice; traditionally, “vobis” would be used. However, in archaic Latin, “vosco” meant “and you”. “MED” (me) is clear, and most scholars agree on it. “MITATNE” is a non-classical but understandable version of “missus sum”. “ITER” (instead of “ITED”) for “road” is perfect and well-placed.

ENDO COSMIS VIRCOSIED… ASTERNOISI OPE
And for the Cosmic virgins… Astraea and Ops

Comment: “ENDO” meaning “and” appears in some other inscriptions of the period. “COSMIS” would mean “cosmic” and “VIRCOSIED” is a plural of the word “virgins” (“virginibus” would be the traditional word). Most scholars agree that VIRCO means “virgin”. However, the text breaks after the the suffix “sied” which on its own doesn’t have a meaning, therefore it probably designates plural.

The text continues in the Line 2 and the names “ASTERNOISI” and “OPE” are well-placed, and allign well with the meaning of the previous line of the text. Astraea was a COSMIC VIRGIN worshiped as a goddess of justice by the Greeks and Romans. She was identified with the Virgo constellation. Ope is Ops, the Etruscan goddess of fertility and the wife of Saturn. (Was Asternoa seen as the wife of Jupiter?)

TOITESIAI PAKARIVOIS
From the Pacarius clan

Comment: The ancient Roman family name Pacarius is well-attested. The word “TOITESIAI” is more enigmatic, but I am certain that it should be read as such, because I have seen it already in another, Rhaetic inscription. This word doesn’t have any Latin parallels, but it does appear in the Illyrian langauge. See for example, the name of the famous Illyrian queen Teuta (Illyrian: *Teutana, ‘mistress of the people, queen’; It descends from the Proto-IndoEuropean (PIE) stem *teutéh₁- (‘the people’, perhaps ‘the people under arms’). However, I believe that the word “clan”, “tribe” is a better translation. Interestingly, “clan” is precisely the meaning of the Native American Ojibwe word “totem”.

DVENOS MED FECEDEN MANOME
Duenos made me with his own hands

Comment: “DVENOS” could be a personal name, as it is usually translated, but it could also mean “lord” – see dueño (from Latin “domnus, don”). “MED” (me) works well here. “FECEDEN” as “made” is understandable; “fecit” would be the classical term. “MANOME” for “with his hands” is a creative attempt; “manibus” or “suis manibus” would align more closely with classical Latin.

INOM DVENOI NE MED MALOSTATOR
In the lord’s name, don’t harm me

Comment: “INOM” (in nomine) is apt. “DVENOI” (domini) fits well. “NE MED” (not me) is clear, though “ne” (lest) might be better suited as “non” for a direct negation. “MALOSTATOR” as “harm me”, “break me” would come from the word “malos” – “bad” and “stator” – “to stand”, although this would be just and educated guess based on the context.

Conclusion

Having reviewed numerous academic interpretations of this text, I’m confident that my translation most accurately reflects the item’s initial ceremonial intent. Unlike other translations that concentrate on the term “virgin” and construct elaborate stories around it, I propose that the text is a straightforward homage to the primary deities of the pantheon, gods and goddesses, offered by a family clan. The item was likely placed in a communal area, possibly at an intersection, which accounts for the inscription’s plea to preserve its integrity and prevent its misuse.

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A Comprehensive Translation of the Pyrgi Tablets Etruscan Inscription

The Pyrgi Tablets are one of the most significant archaeological discoveries pertaining to the ancient Etruscan civilization. Found in 1964 near the town of Pyrgi in Italy, these tablets date back to around the 5th century BCE. They hold immense historical importance because they provide one of the few bilingual texts in Etruscan and Phoenician, offering valuable insights into both languages.

The tablets were discovered at the site of an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Uni, who was assimilated with the Phoenician goddess Astarte. This discovery underscores the interactions and cultural exchanges between the Etruscans and the Phoenicians, two of the most influential civilizations in the Mediterranean during the first millennium BCE.

The Pyrgi Tablets are made of gold and inscribed with texts. The bilingual nature of these inscriptions has been instrumental in advancing the understanding of the Etruscan language, which remains only partially deciphered and is a subject of considerable academic interest. The Phoenician inscription is a dedication by the Tyrsenian (Etruscan) king Tiberie Velianas to the goddess Astarte, while the Etruscan inscriptions seem to parallel this content.

The Phoenician portion of the inscription has been largely translated with a high degree of accuracy. However, the Etruscan section often contains numerous gaps or lacks consistency. It is virtually impossible to find a full translation of the Etruscan text that is logical, natural, and consistent.

In this article, I will present my interpretation of the entire Etruscan text.

The Phoenician Inscription of the Pyrgi Tablets

Before delving into the Etruscan text, it’s essential to understand the Phoenician inscription. Similar to the Rosetta Stone, these two inscriptions must align in meaning.

The Phoencian text reads:

lrbt lʻštrt
For the Lady, for Astarte
ʼšr qdš ʼz, ʼš pʻl, wʼš ytn tbryʼ wlnš, mlk ʻl kyšry
this is the holy place, which was made, and which was placed by Tiberius Velianas, king over Kasriye
,yrḥ zbḥ šmš, bmtnʼ bbtb
during the month of the sacrifice to the Sun, as an offering in the temple
wbn tw, kʻštrt ʼrš bdy, lmlky šnt šlš ///, byrḥ krr, bym qbr ʼlm
And he built a chamber 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 as numerous as the stars

My translation of the Etruscan Inscription of the Pyrgi Tablets

First plate

Ita tmia icac heramašva 
This temple and this statue
vatiexe Unial-Astres 
dedicated to Uni-Astarte
themiasa mex thuta
were built for res publica
Thebariei Velianas sal Cluvenias
by Thiberie Velianas, king of Clusium.
Turuce munistas thuvas tameresca
He gifted to this place this holy sanctuary
ilacve tulerase nac ci avil
when he had ruled for three years.
Xurvar tesiameitale ilacve Alšase 
The altars were consecrated in the month of July
nac atranes zilacal seleitala acnašvers
when the main priest of temple made the fire offerings.
Itanim heramve avil eniaca pulumxva
May the years of this statue be as numerous as the stars.

Second plate

Nac Thebarie Veliiunas thamuce cleva etanal
When Thiberie Veliiunas put offerings in the shrine
masan Tiur Unias šelace vacal
the priests of Tiur and Uni made their libations. 
tmial avilxval amuce pulumxva snuiaφ
May the temple years be as eternal as the rotating stars.

Each word explained

Virtually all Etruscan words were sourced from a single glossary that is feely available online:

Etruscan Glossary – Compilation and translations from French, Italian and Latin 
by Rick Mc Callister and Silvia Mc Callister-Castillo ©1999
See here.

There were only a few instances where I had to refer to other sources.

Below is an explanation of each line in the text, with references included. I included all related terms from the glossary, for clearer understanding, but I’ve highlighted the terms I’ve chosen for my translation.

Ita tmia icac heramašva 
This temple and this statue

ita, eta, ta “this” nominative demonstrative pronoun [am91, g/lb83, mcv] 
“istud” [am91, mc91, pa, dep] 
itan, itun, etn, tn “this” accusative demonstrative pronoun [mcv, pa]
itanim “this” [lb 299]
see ta “this” [am91, mc91, pa, dep]
see Latin istud “this” [dep]
see Russian eto “this” [dep]
see Greek to “the” [dep]
see Gothic thata “this” [dep]
see Sanskrit tah “this” [dep]
see Indo-European *to- [b/k 32, mcv 9 Feb99]

tmase “building” [az96]
tmia, timia “temple, sacred place” [az96, lb 299, mcv 8 Nov 96, g/lb83, mp68: 407, pa, dep]
“offer, offering” [am91]
“enclosure” [mc91: 73]
tmial “of the temple” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
see tam [dep]
see Greek tmé:dên, tmé:tikós [am91]
see Latin templum “temple” [mp68]

ica-c “and this” [mcv 8 Nov 96]

heramaSva, heramsva, heramue, heramve “statue” [lb 199, mc91: 73, mcv 8 Nov 96]
“proclaimed by an oracle, profatus est” [az96]

vatiexe Unial-Astres 
dedicated to Uni-Astarte

vatiexe “pledged” [az96]
“dedicated” [lb 299] 

“have been dedicated” [mcv 8 Nov 96]

uni, unei “Juno” [az96, cb, djh 95, g/lb83, mc91: 53, EM]
mother of Hercle [EM]
patroness of Perugia [EM]
uni mae celestial deity [mp68: 251]
unialastres “to Uni-Astre” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
*uni-al astre-s “of Uni, of Ishtar?” [rmcc]
unias “to Uni” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
uniiathi, unialthi “in Juno’s temple” [az96]
see un “to grant” [az96]
see Latin Juno [az96, cb, djh 95, g/lb83, mc91: 53, EM]

themiasa mex thuta
were built for res publica

tham-, thamce, thamuce “to build, found, put” [g/lb83, gg 4 Mar 99, mp68, pa]
thamce, thamuce, themiasa < tham-, them- “(has) commanded, disposed” [az96]

The term “Res publica” translates as “general public, public matter, affair”. More on res publica here.

mex “nation” [pa, dep]
“strong, great” [am91, az96]
“lord” [lb 299]
mex, mex-l “people, league, nation” [g/lb83, mp68]
mexl “territory” [g/lb85: 120]
“the greatest” [az96]
mex thuta “res publica” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
see methlum “district, territory” [g/lb83, mp68]
see zilath mexl rasnal, zilath mexlum raSneas “praetor of Etruria” [g/lb83, mp68]
mean, meian- “manificence, greatness” [az96]
*meghi-an-, *megh-an- [az96]
“Nike, Victoria (crowns others with wreath)” [g/lb83] 
“Gloria (goddess)” [az96]
*mak-, makh-, mek, -mekh- [az96]
see Latin maximus [az96]
see Latin pagus “village, district” [dep]

Thebariei Velianas sal Cluvenias
by Thiberie Velianas, king of Clusium.

If it weren’t for the Phoenician text, I would be inclined to translate this “the propher of Sol”. However, the Phoencian inscription clearly mentions the work m-l-k – “king”, and that is followed by “over Kasriye“. For this reason, I translated this as “king of Clusium”. The ancient name of Clusium stems from the Etruscan ‘cluva” – “offering”, and this ancient city was not very far from Pyrgi. The Etruscans called it Clevsin.

sal “Sol?” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
Sal “king, pontifex” [az96]

cluvenias “offerfeast ?” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
“oracle” [az96]
“precinct or enclosure (of Athena)” [htb]
clevana “seer, prophet” [az96]

Turuce munistas thuvas tameresca
He gifted to this place this holy sanctuary

tur-, tur-a, tur-e, tur-i, tur-u, tur-une, “to give, dedicate” [am91, cb, v, g/lb83, mc91, pa, dep] 
turan “given” [am91]
turu “donator, giver” [az96] 
“dedicated” [mc91]
tur-u-ce, tur-un-ke, tur-i-ce, tur-ce, tiurke “s/he gave (it), given, s/he dedicated” [am91, az96, cb, v, g/lb83, mc91, lb 299, mcv, pa] 
tur-une “cession, yielding’ [mp68: 405]
“gave” [az96]
turuce “s/he dedicated” [pa]

mun-, muni, muni-s, muni-s-ta-s, muni-cle-th, muni-cle-t, muni ule-th, muni-vle-th, mun-sle, mun-th “place, hypogeal place, tomb” [cw 43, g/lb83, mp68, pa, dep]
munistas “this place” [lb 299]

thuva, thuve “guarded place, cell” [az96]
thue, thuve “protected place” [az96]
thuvas “of this sacred place” [lb 299] 
“of his own/private” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
thval “pertaining to the priesthood” [am91]
see Italian tutrice [az96]

tamera, tameru, tamere-s-ca “chamber, tomb, chapel, arc, home” [az96] 
tam-eresca “temple building, sanctuary, arc” [az96] 
see tam [rmcc]
see tm-ia [mcv 8 Nov 96]
see Latin taberna “shop” of Etruscan origin [bm 24-25, g/lb85: 82, nv 73]
see Indo-European *dom- [mcv 8 Nov 96]
tameresca “promoter” [lb 299]

ilacve tulerase nac ci avil
when he had ruled for three years.

Virtually every translation of this text translates the word Tulerase as the name of a month. This is probably because it follows the word “ilacve” which can mean “calends” (although this is not certain). However, the name of the month Tuleras isn’t attested in any other inscription.

On the other hand, the Phoencian inscription clearly states that he had ruled for 3 years when he built the temple. Therefore, my original suggestion would be that this word is related to the Latin “tuleras”, which is a second-person singular pluperfect active indicative of ferō. One of the meanings of this word was “to lead”.

Similarly, the word “ilacve” in my opinion means “when, at that time”. I base my translation on the Latin “illo tempore”, with the same meaning. Illo is the ablative singular masculine form of “ille,” which is a demonstrative pronoun. “Illo” can be translated as “by that,” “with that,” or “in that,” depending on the context. The ablative case in Latin often denotes means or agency, and in this context, it’s typically used to indicate time.

ilacve, ilucve “on the one hand” [lb 299] 
“as well as ?” [mcv 8 Nov 96] 
“calends?” [mp68, pa]

tul “to divide, assign” [az96]
act associated with religion [mp68: 409]
*dvel [az96]
tul, tular, tularu “limit(s), border, lot, boundaries” [am91, ag 79, az96, mc91: 146/150, mcv, mp68, v, g/lb83, pa]
“established” [lb 299]
tul “to divide, share, assign” [az96]
act associated with religion [mp68: 409]
“stone, border” [dep]
“stone” [ag 79, g/lb83]
tulalu “divider” [az96]
tulerase “enclosure?” [az91?]
tuler, tulera month name [az96]

nac “as, how, so, because, then, when, why” [az96, g/lb83, lb 299, mcv, mp68, pa, dep]

ci, cis, ciS “three” [am91, cb. g/lb83, mc91, mp68]

avil “year” [cb, g/lb83, lb 90, mp 75, v, pa, dep, gzb]
“year(s)” [ag 79, mp68, rab 332]
“years; aged xxx years” [pa]
“per year” [mc91]
avils, avilS “years”
“years of age” [mc91]
avilxva, avilxval “anniversary, yearly” [g/lb83 56, mp68]
“to the year-count” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
avilxva “annual, yearly” [dep, pa]
avil + adjectival suffix -xva [dep]
avil “year” [pa, dep, gzb]
avils “year, season” [gm97]
see Lemnian aviz [mp68: 99]
see Lemnian avis [ayma@tip.nl, mp68]
see Gothic aiws “eternity” [dep]
see Latin aevus “time, eternity” [dep]
see Greek ayôn “lifetime” [dep]
see Albanese eshë “timespan” [dep]
see Old Irish aes “life, age” [dep]
see Indo-European *aiwon “lifetime” [dep]
see Nostratic *h.aju “to live” [ag 79]

Xurvar tesiameitale ilacve Alšase 
The altars were consecrated in the month of July

xurvar “Churvar (month)” [mcv]
see Phoenician KRR in Pyrgi tablets [mcv]
xurvar (plural) “fires, altars?” [az96]

teSiameitale “(were) dedicated, indicated” [az96]
teSiameitale “she favors him?” [mcv 8 Nov 96]

alS, alSa “July” [az96]
alSase “in July” [az96: 17]

nac atranes zilacal seleitala acnašvers
when the main priest of the temple made the fire offerings.

nac “as, how, so, because, then, when, why” [az96, g/lb83, lb 299, mcv, mp68, pa, dep]

athre “building” [g/lb83, mp68]
“request, provocation?” [az96]
atranes “relating to ‘building?” [g/lb83, mp68]
“of the temple” [lb 299]

atri, âtrium “atrium” [djh 61, lb 90, mp68/75] 
athre “atrium, hall” [pa, dep]
see Latin atrium [g/lb83, mp68, dep]

zilacal “of the zilac (praetor)” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
zilacei, zilac “Ruler, Queen” [az96]
zilath “(one who) governs, praetor [az96]

Seleita “instituted, ordered” [az96]
seleitala “of the goddess?” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
Seleta “(cosmic) order [az96]
*stel [az96]

acnasvers “funeral? cremation?”
“gave in possession” [lb 299]
see verse “fire” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
acasri “to be offered” [mp68: 409, pa, dep]
acazr “objects offered in the tomb, offered” [g/lb83, 85: 162; mp68, pa, dep]
probably plural form of *cas “offer” [dep]
from same root as acas [dep]
see acnasver “venerable” [az96]
acasri “to be offered” [mp68: 409, pa, dep]
acazr “objects offered in the tomb, offered” [g/lb83, 85: 162; mp68, pa, dep]
probably plural form of *cas “offer” [dep]
from same root as acas [dep]
see acnasver “venerable” [az96]

Itanim heramve avil eniaca pulumxva
May the years of this statue be as numerous as the stars.

ita, eta, ta “this” nominative demonstrative pronoun [am91, g/lb83, mcv] 
“istud” [am91, mc91, pa, dep] 
itan, itun, etn, tn “this” accusative demonstrative pronoun [mcv, pa]
itanim “this” [lb 299]
see ta “this” [am91, mc91, pa, dep]
see Latin istud “this” [dep]
see Russian eto “this” [dep]
see Greek to “the” [dep]
see Gothic thata “this” [dep]
see Sanskrit tah “this” [dep]
see Indo-European *to- [b/k 32, mcv 9 Feb99]

heramaSva, heramsva, heramue, heramve “statue” [lb 199, mc91: 73, mcv 8 Nov 96]
“proclaimed by an oracle, profatus est” [az96]
herm- “to lead, conduct” [am91]
herama “oracle” [az96]
herma, herme “Hermes; statue?” [g/lb83]
herme sacred society dedicated to Hermes [dep]
hermeri “Hermes; statue?” [g/lb83]
“to be led” [am91]
*hermi- “August” [g/lb83]
classical gloss Ermius [g/lb83] 
hermu “Hermes; statue?” [g/lb83]
“having led” [am91]
see Latin herm- “statue of Hermes” [g/lb83, mp68]
see Greek Hermes [dep]

eniaca “just-like” [az96, mcv 8 Nov 96]

pul “beautiful” [az96] 
base of pulum? [az96] 
pulpai, pulpa “shining, splendid” [az96]
pultuce, pultuxe “Pollux, Poludeúkês” [g/lb83, mc91: 45] 
“light-bearing, Lucifer (morning star)” [az96]
pulum “shining, splendid” [az96] 
pulumxva “stars, star-count” [g/lb83, ib 90, mcv 8 Nov 96, mp 68/75, pa, dep]
(that which) shines, firmament” [az96]
see pulcher “beautiful” Latin of Etruscan origin [az96. EB XXII:647]
see Latin splendor [rmcc]

Nac Thebarie Veliiunas thamuce cleva etanal
When Thiberie Veliiunas put offerings in the shrine

nac “as, how, so, because, then, when, why” [az96, g/lb83, lb 299, mcv, mp68, pa, dep]

tham-, thamce, thamuce “to build, found, put” [g/lb83, gg 4 Mar 99, mp68, pa]
thamce, thamuce, themiasa < tham-, them- “(has) commanded, disposed” [az96]

cleva “gift, offering” [g/lb83, mcv 8 Nov 96, mp68: 409]

eta “seat, post” [az96]
etanei “seat” [az96]
see Latin aedes “building, temple, house”
[az96]
etula (oblique) [az96]
*et(h)-/*it- < *sed [az96]
ethava “seat, residence, temple, foundation” [az96]
see Latin sedes “seat, residence, temple, foundation” [az96]

masan Tiur Unias šelace vacal
the priests of Tiur and Uni made their libations. 

Once again, most translations read the word “masan” as the “month” and then name it Tiur. But Tiur was a well-attested Etruscan moon goddess, and the word can also mean “seer, hierophant”. Perhaps it could be even related to the word “messiah” – the “anointed”, especially in the context of the libations that follow.

The word šelace is problematic, and I haven’t found any cognates at the time of publishing this text, but based on the context, which is quite clear, it probably meant smething like “to give, to make”. In many Rhaetic and Venetic inscriptions related to offerings, the word “šai” is present. Perhaps these are different forms of the same word.

masan, masn “Masa” a month [g/lb83, mcv 8 Nov 96, mp68, pa, dep]
masan, masn “seer, hierophant” [az96]

Tiur – Etruscan deity identified with Greek Selene and Roman Luna (goddess)

vacal, vacil, vacl “libation” [g/lb83 56, pa, dep] 
“offering?”
[mcv 8 Nov 96, mp68: 409] 
“augur” [az96]

tmial avilxval amuce pulumxva snuiaφ
May the temple years be as eternal as the rotating stars.

tmase “building” [az96]
tmia, timia “temple, sacred place” [az96, lb 299, mcv 8 Nov 96, g/lb83, mp68: 407, pa, dep]
“offer, offering” [am91]
“enclosure” [mc91: 73]
tmial “of the temple” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
see tam [dep]
see Greek tmé:dên, tmé:tikós [am91]
see Latin templum “temple” [mp68]

avil “year” [cb, g/lb83, lb 90, mp 75, v, pa, dep, gzb]
“year(s)” [ag 79, mp68, rab 332]
“years; aged xxx years” [pa]
“per year” [mc91]
avils, avilS “years”
“years of age” [mc91]
avilxva, avilxval “anniversary, yearly” [g/lb83 56, mp68]
“to the year-count” [mcv 8 Nov 96]
avilxva “annual, yearly” [dep, pa]
avil + adjectival suffix -xva [dep]
avil “year” [pa, dep, gzb]

-xva plural for things [vs/amr 189]

amuce, amuxe “continual, perpetual, eternal” [az96]

pul “beautiful” [az96] 
base of pulum? [az96] 
pulpai, pulpa “shining, splendid” [az96]
pultuce, pultuxe “Pollux, Poludeúkês” [g/lb83, mc91: 45] 
“light-bearing, Lucifer (morning star)” [az96]
pulum “shining, splendid” [az96] 
pulumxva “stars, star-count” [g/lb83, ib 90, mcv 8 Nov 96, mp 68/75, pa, dep]
(that which) shines, firmament” [az96]
see pulcher “beautiful” Latin of Etruscan origin [az96. EB XXII:647]
see Latin splendor [rmcc]

snaus “turn, course” [az96]
snua “to turn (over)” [az96]
snuiaf “run, turn” [az96]

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On the language of San Sosti Axe-Head inscription

The San Sosti Axe-Head was unearthed near the small town of San Sosti in the province of Cosenza, Calabria, southern Italy. This bronze axe-head, dating back to the 6th century BC, is rich in decorations, including a winged sphinx and intricate palmettes, reflect the high level of artistry achieved by craftsmen of that era.

However, the most intriguing element is the inscription, thought to be written in the Achaean dialect of Ancient Greek. The axe-head was likely dedicated in a religious context, as an offering to the temple.

Today, this remarkable piece of history resides in the British Museum (see it here).

According to the scholars, the text reads:

I am the sacred property of Hera-in-the-Plain:
Kyniskos the butcher dedicated me,
a tithe from his works.

However, the truth is that nobody knows why would Hera have the epithet “in the plain”, as this name was not attested anywhere else. For this translation to make sense, we are expected to imagine that it reffers to some, now lost temple that was located under the mountain, in the plain.

Also, if every butcher dedicated a tithe of his works, how many similar objects should be out there? And what about all other professions? How come we ended up with only one axe-head?

My translation of the San Sotis inscription

Unfortunately, it is not easy to find the official transcription of the text. In a few works written about this object the English translation is often quoted without the original text.

However, the text is fairly easy to read, even though the spacing between the words was not clearly indicated.

My reading looks like this:

TAS HERAS HIAROS
EMITAS EN PEDIOI KUNISKOS 
MEANETHEIFE ORTAMOS 
FERION DEKATAN

Translation:

Blessed by Hera
I deposit this for my child Kunisko
from Meanete
Ferion Dekatan

My translation explained

  • TAS HERAS: This translates to “of Hera” or “of the holy,” with “τᾶς” being a form of the definite article and “ερᾶς” an adjective meaning sacred or holy, likely referring to Hera.
  • HIAROS: from Ancient Greek ῐ̔ερός (hierós), meaning:
  • – connected with the gods, supernatural
  • – holy, sacred, consecrated
  • – under divine protection
  • “EMITAS”: I interpret this word as “deposited,” “placed,” or “bought.” This implies an action of dedication or offering, suggesting that the axe-head was deliberately placed as an offering or perhaps purchased for the purpose of dedication.
  • Moreover, I have already encountered this same word in the Sikulian inscription from Centorbi (Centuripe) inscription, 5th century BC (similar period). In my translation, a part of that inscription reads:
  • Mí emito meiti – I buy for myself a maiden
    Durom na Nepos  – Durom of Nepos (a personal name of a girl and her father)
    Duromí emito – Duromi I buy
    mesti Veliomne – in the city of Velia
  • See the full text here.
  • “EN PEDIOI”: Translated as “for a child,” it indicates that the dedication or offering of the axe-head was made on behalf of, or in relation to, a child.
  • “KUNISKOS”: A personal name, likely referring to the individual who dedicated or offered the axe-head.
  • I have already encountered this exact phrase in the Rhaetic inscriptions. The scolars read it as “pirikanisnu”, but in my translation, it simply reads “pidi kanisnu” or “for the child Kanishnu”. See the full text here.
  • “MEANETHEIFE”: I believe that this as a toponym, but the specific location or place it refers to isn’t clear. It could be the name of a sanctuary, town, or region relevant to the dedication. Considering the Rhaetic connection, a good candidate is Meano, near Trento, Italy. However, there were many similar toponyms in the ancient world, as the name seems to be derrived from the word “mediana” – “border”.
  • “ORTAMOS”: I interpret this as “originated”, based on the Latin word “ortus” – “having originated”
  • “FERION”: This could be a personal name of the person who dedicated the object.
  • “DEKATAN”: This word is obscure. I see how scolars translated it as “a tiithe” meaning “a tenth”, as the only similar sounding word is Latin “deka”. However, to my ear this would rather be a military rank of Ferion, meaning that he was in charge of ten soldiers, or it could mean “dedicated,” confirming the nature of the axe-head as a votive offering. However, these theories are hard to prove.

Conclusion

It is assumed that this object was made in the city of Sybaris, not far from San Sostis. This city was an Achaean Greek colony since the 8th century BC.

The text starts by referencing Hera, a Greek goddess, and the word “hieros,” meaning “holy” in Greek. However, the rest of the content doesn’t align much with Greek elements.

The name Kuniska, for instance, isn’t Greek; it’s likely Rhaetic. The term “emitas” is found in Silkulian. Moreover, numerous other words in the text have a resemblance to Proto-Italic rather than Greek.

So how could we clasify this language?

Firstly, this whole region in Italy is known as Calabria. It takes its name from the Balkan Illyrian tribe known as the Galabri. And while the name ‘Calabria’ first appears in Italian records in the 3rd century BC, other Illyrian and Indo-European tribes had been in the region for a much longer period. Consider, for instance, the Bruttiians (who may have also reached and named Brittain) and the Oenotrians. The name ‘Oenotrians’ translates to ‘the wine-makers,’ which may resemble the name of the Venetians.

Essentially, this region has always been marked by linguistic diversity from the earliest times of recorded history. This suggests that Achaean Greek isn’t the sole plausible language for interpreting this inscription. In this article, I’ve presented my interpretation, which, in my opinion, seems more fluid and natural.

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On the Adriatic Veneti, their language and origins

The Adriatic Veneti were an Indo-European people who inhabited northeastern Italy along the 1st millennium BC. Their language is evidenced in approximately 300 short inscriptions dating from the 6th to 1st centuries BC. Although it shares some similarities with Latin, it also has some affinities with other Indo-European languages.

The Adriatic Veneti were skilled farmers and traders. They exported grain, wine, and horses that were renowned for their speed. They were also skilled shipbuilders and seafarers.

People with the same name – the Veneti, lived in France and around the Vistula River in Poland. It is not clear if these three groups of people were related. One theory is that they all descended from a common Indo-European ancestor group.

Trimusicates – A Mysterious Venetic Deity?

Many Venetic inscriptions make reference to a deity named Trimusicates. In fact, this seems to be one of the most common names in their dedications. However, at the time of writing this article, it is a virtually impossible to find any information about this particular deity.

Here are a few examples from the book “Venetic Inscriptions” by Donald O’Brian. See here.

a. 5 Inscribed on a situla (bucket shaped vessel). 
ke.l.lo.s. ossoko.s. doto dono.m. trumusicate.i.
“Kellos Ossokos gave (as)-a-gift to-Trumusicates”

Ca. 6 Votive inscription on a sheet. 
].i.ion.ko.s tona.s./toś a.i.nat. trumus.iiat. per. vo/.l.te.r.kon. vo.n.ta.r.
“…ionkos gave to-the-Healer Trumusicates for the-fulfilment of-a-vow”

Ca. 14 Votive inscirption on a sheet
ke.l.lo.s. pi.t./ta.m.mn.iko.s. tole.r trum/usicate.i. dono.m. // da
“Kellos Pitamnikos brought/gave/offered a-gift to-Trumusicates”

Ca 15AB Inscribed on the handle of a bowl. 
A) hutto.s. aplisikos. tri śikos.toler. / B) [tru]musicate.i. dono.m.
“Huttos Aplisikos Triśikos gave/brought/offered a-gift to-Trumusicates”

Ca. 16 Inscribed on the handle of a bowl. 
huttos e.s[–]os [t]ole.r. / trumusicatei donom
“Huttos Es…os gave/brought/offered a-gift to-Trumusicates”

The list goes on, with more than ten similar inscriptions listed in this book alone. All of these inscriptions are votive offerings to what seems to be a mysterious deity. However, there might be a more logical explanation, and the only real mystery is how it could have been overlooked by all these scolars who worked on the inscriptions.

Trimusicates – The Three Muses, and their Thracian origins

In Greek mythology, the Muses are often associated with inspiration in various forms of art, literature, and learning. While the traditional belief is that there were nine Muses, it’s interesting to note that in many earlier accounts they were considered as three: Melete, Mneme, and Aoide. These three Muses represented practice, memory, and song, respectively.

Over time, their number expanded to nine, with each Muse presiding over different domains of creativity, such as epic poetry, history, music, and astronomy. However, the three muses were still worshiped in Delphi, and many ancient authors believed that they had Thracian origin. Some of those authors were Pausanias, Varo, and Diodorus Siculus.

The ancients venerated the Muses, not through grand temples, but through intimate rituals woven into the landscape. Honeyed libations graced sacred springs, lyre melodies mingled with whispering pines, and invocations like Hesiod’s “Sing of the Muses” sought divine inspiration.

Beyond poetic invocations, sacrifices and festivals like the Museia celebrated artistic expression, while the Muses’ influence permeated even secular spheres like education and oracles. Thus, worship of the Muses wasn’t mere celestial flattery, but a vibrant recognition of the divine spark at the heart of human creativity.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising to see so many Venetic dedications to the Muses. What is suprising, is that this would mean that they believed in the three original muses, long after the ancient Greeks have increased their number to nine. What could that tell us of their “Indo-European” origins?

A Slavic connection?

The first Venetic inscription that we will examine was inscribed on a bronze cup. This sinistroverse script is dubbed Es 120 in Prosdocimi’s 1988 catalogue and MLV 123 in Lejeune’s 1974 work. Dividing the continuous flow of letters yields the enigmatic phrase “alkomno metlon śikos enogenes vilkenis horvionte donasan.”

My translation:

Alkomno Metlons i Kosenogenes Vilkenis, Horvionte donasan.

“Alcmene from Metalon (Metulum?) and Ksenogenes from Vilkena, for Horvio brought it.”

Explanation:

Alkomno – a variant od Alcman or Alcmene (personal names, see here and here)
Metlon – a toponym, perhaps from the word “metal”? (see Greek μέταλλον). The word “metalui” is also attested in Leptonic, which is another North Italic script. However, scholars translate this word as a personal name, not a toponym, even though we are dealing with a single word inscription, without any context. See here.
In my opinion, both words could be related to Metulum – a famous Illyrian city destroyed by Romans in 35 BC (modern day Cakovec, Croatia – see here)
Kosengoenes – Xenogenes is a well-attested Greek name derived from the words “xenos” (guest, stranger) and “genos” (birth, race, kind). It can be interpreted as “foreigner born” or “of alien origin.”
Vilkena – another toponym, and it is also attesed in a few other Venetic inscriptions (the meaning is perhaps “a place with many wolves”). Vьlkъ is a proto-Slavic word for a wolf. Some other Illyrian toponyms, such as Ulcinj in Montenegro (ancient Oulkinion) are said to come from the same word. The same might be true even for the Etruscan Vulci (and the god Vulkan).
Horvionte – for Horvio, a personal name (compare it with the Croatian name “Hrvoje”).
Donasan – “they gave”, 3rd plural sigmatic past (most scholars agree on this translation, but they don’t mention that the closest equivalent in modern languages is Slavic “donesen” with the same meaning. See here.)

The second isncription is known as the “Cartura stone” Es122. It is a round, flat stone with an inscription that reads:

ego vhontei ersiniioi vineti()karis vivoi oliiale()kve murtuvoi atisteit.

My translation:

Ego vhontei Ersiniioi Vinetikaris, vivoi Oliialekve murtuvoi Atisteit.

“I was made for Ersinia, the Venetian, who lived in Oliosi and died in Ateste.”

Explanation:

Ego – I, Latin
Vhontei – fontei – “to make, to cast to the ground, to prostrate” (see Latin “fundo”, and French “font”)
Ersiniioi – Ersinia, a female personal name
Vinetikaris – The Venetian
Vivoi – who lived – See Latin vivo – from Proto-Italic *gʷīwō, from Proto-Indo-European *gʷíh₃weti (“to live”). Cognate with Proto-Slavic (and modern Slavic) zhivo, zhiveti and Sanskritजीवति (jīvati). Note that the Slavic word is the same as the Sanskrit one, and without a doubt closer to the older, original PIE pronunciuation, than the Latin one.
Oliale – a toponym, perhaps similar to modern Oliosi, in Veneto, Italy (a place where oil is made)
kve – a suffix meaning “and”, just like the Latin “que”.
murtuvoi – died – Corresponds to Proto-Italic *mortwos, from Proto-Indo-European *mr̥twós*mr̥tós(“dead, mortal”) Cognate with Sanskrit मृत (mṛtá), Old Church Slavonic мрътвъ (mrŭtvŭ). Note that the “V” sound disappeared in Latin very early on – ie. “Mortwos” became “mortuus”, but it remained in Slavic languages until the present day.
Atesteit – “in Ateste”. Ateste was the original, ancient name of modern Este, Veneto, where this incription was found. I’ve read numerous translation attempts of this inscription, and I am really surprised that none of the scholars seem to have made this connection. (?)

In any case, what we see here is a language that couldn’t be classified as Latin, but at the same time, it could also not be classified as Slavic. However, the enigmatic “Indo-European” component that the scolars often mention, could really be best described as Slavic. The same is true of many Venetian toponyms, of which the most famous is Trieste. It’s ancient name was Tregeste, from Slavic *tъrgъ – marketplace. The same root is in the name of another Venetian city – Oderzo, whose ancient name was Opi-tergium.

On the Venetian origins

While direct linguistic connections between Venetian and Illyrian languages are not extensively documented, some modern scholars have posited potential links based on historical interactions and geographical proximity. The Venetian language, a Romance language spoken in the Veneto region of Italy, has likely been influenced by various neighboring languages, including some that belonged to the Illyrian language family spoken in parts of the Balkans.

However, ancient authors like Strabo and Pliny the Elder allude to the connection between the Veneti and Paphlagonia, suggesting that the Veneti originated from or had ties to this Anatolian region. They claimed that the Veneti and Eneti relate to the same group of people who resided in Paphlagonia and neighboring areas, hinting at a potential migration or historical association between these regions.

Indeed, there were three tribes of Eneti known in antiquity: those who lived in Paphlagonia, those who lived in Illyria, and those who lived in North Italy.

According to some ancient accounts, including those by writers like Virgil in his epic poem “The Aeneid,” the migration of the Eneti to Venetia occurred after the fall of Troy. Legend has it that after the Trojan War, a group of Trojans, including the Eneti led by Antenor, left their homeland and embarked on a journey that eventually led them to settle in various regions, including areas in the Adriatic region, potentially contributing to the founding or settlement of Venetia.

Furthermore, the connection between the Eneti and the Thracians is hinted at in some ancient texts, suggesting potential interactions or associations between these groups. These claims would also explain my translation of Trimusicates as the three muses, as the belief in three muses originated in ancient Thrace.

And finally, the region of Paphlagonia is still full of toponyms that mirror in the Balkans and the Adriatic region, meaning that the ancient authors might have been right about this connection. Indeed, the IE dative in *-ei, meaning “to, for”, that we saw in the word “vhontei” above, was also present in the Phrygian language, e.g. “mater-ei, pater-ei, vanakt-ei”. The Phrygians also had their origins in the Balkans.

To summarize, the Venetians probably migrated to Italy already in the Bronze age. They were very closey related to the Illyrians and the Thracians, and their roots were probably in the Balkans. Upon arriving to Italy, they mixed with the local population, that ancient authors call Euganei, which is probably another name for Ingauni, a Celtic tribe. Later on, their language was additionaly influenced by Latin (and vice-versa – they might have influenced the Latin language). And even though in the later centuries, their names sounded disctinctively Greek, the underlining layer of their language was always Thraco-Illyrian, and it’s closest modern equivalent can be found in the Slavic languages.

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Silk and Slavs: Linguistic Links to Ancient India

Silk, a luxurious and coveted textile, has a history that dates back over 4,000 years. Its origins can be traced to ancient China, where sericulture (silk farming) and the art of silk production were closely guarded secrets. Silk fabric became a symbol of wealth and prestige, and it played a crucial role in trade along the Silk Road, connecting East and West.

The Silk Road, a network of ancient trade routes, emerged around the 2nd century BCE, during the Han Dynasty of China. Its origins can be traced to Chinese diplomats and explorers seeking to establish connections with neighboring regions. This network of interconnected routes spanned thousands of miles, stretching from China through Central Asia, the Middle East, and into Europe. It facilitated the exchange of goods, ideas, cultures, and technologies between East and West. Along the Silk Road, silk played a pivotal role, as it was among the most sought-after commodities, even though it was far from the only item traded.

Slavs and Silk

It is generally believed that the Slavic urheimat have been in Eastern Europe, covering parts of modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia, and as such, it was not directly connected to the Silk Road. However, some modern Slavic territories, such as parts of Eastern Europe and especially the Balkans, were situated along the Silk Road trade routes.

According to the official history, the Slavic people migrated and established their presence in the Balkans during the 6th century AD. Prior to their arrival, this area had been inhabited by various other tribes, among them the Celts.

Recently, while browsing a Proto-Celtic dictionary (available here), I was surprised to see that one of the words for “beetle” was “swila”. This word sounds like a Serbian word for silk – svila. The etymology of the Slavic word is clear – it designates something that is folded, or curled, which is exactly what happens to the threads of silk, made by a silkworm.

But are the Proto-Celtic and Serbian word really connected?

The English word “silk” has a rich linguistic history. It ultimately traces its origins to the Chinese word for silk, which is “丝” (). The modern word originated from the Old English term “sioloc,” which was influenced by Latin “sericum” and Greek “σηρικός” (serikos). Both Latin and Greek terms were connected to the name of the Seres, an ancient Asian people known for their silk production.

But what is interesting is that the Slavic word for silk stems directly from the Slavic language – it is not a borrowing. Languages usually borrow words when they acquire new technology, but the Slavic word relates directly to the process of the silk manufacturing.

Origins of the Silk Production – Not Along the Silk Road

The oldest evidence of use of silk in China, comes from the ancient Sanxingdui civilisation. It is dated to the 1st millenium BC. See here. Sanxingdui is located in the province of Sichuan. It is commonly believed that the name Sichuan means “four rivers“. However, it might also be related to the silk production, as the modern Mandarin word for silk is – “丝绸” (sīchóu) – a compound word consisting of two characters:

  1. “丝” (sī): This character means “silk” or “thread.”
  2. “绸” (chóu): This character means “fabric” or “cloth.”

However, the earliest indications of silk utilization can be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization, preceding the era of Sanxingdui by a minimum of 500 years. Some ancient Roman authors, including Ptolemy, placed Serica to the north of India in their geographical writings – which is precisly where the Indus Valley civilizastion once thrived. According to Pausanias (6.22.2) the Seres were a mixture of Scythians and Indians. 

On the other hand, modern scolars usually place Serica to the east of China, in other words, near the Sichuan province.

However, the most interesting ancient account comes from Pliny:

“They also informed us … that beyond the Emodian Mountains (Himalayas) they look towards the Serve (Seres), whose acquaintance they had also made in the pursuits of commerce; that the father of Rachias (the ambassador) had frequently visited their country, and that the Serae always came to meet them on their arrival. These people, they said, exceeded the ordinary human height, had flaxen hair, and blue eyes, and made an uncouth sort of noise by way of talking, having no language of their own for the purpose of communicating their thoughts.”

Nowadays, it is believed that the ethnonym Seres – the silk people, never existed. Rather, it was a name that the silk merchants used for those nations that produced silk. However, what I find really interesting in Pliny’s account is the fact that he reffers to them as Serve – which is how some modern nations still call Serbs to this day. The ethnonym Serb was once a common ethnonym for all Slavs.

Mulberry Tree – Sanskrit and Slavic cognates

The mulberry tree (Morus spp.) plays a crucial role in silk production, as it is the primary food source for silkworms (Bombyx mori), which are the caterpillars responsible for spinning silk cocoons.

And once again, the Slavic word for this tree is tut/dud – a direct cognate to the Sanskrit tUta, with similar parallel existing only in some Turkic languages.

Conclusion

In contemporary talk about the Silk Road, our attention often centers on the trade route that linked ancient China to ancient Rome (passing through the Balkans). Initially, this trade route exclusively dealt with the finished silk products. This was primarily due to the strict Chinese prohibition against exporting silkworms, punishable by the death penalty. The situation only shifted during the Byzantine era when the technology for silkworm rearing became more accessible.

By this time, the Celts were long gone from the Balkans, and therefore any Slavic influence on the Proto-Celtic would have been impossible. If there was really a connection between the words swila (beetle) and svila (silk), that is.

Nevertheless, even if we consider these words to be unrelated, it doesn’t resolve the undeniable fact that the Slavic and Sanskrit terms for the mulberry tree share a common origin. It raises intriguing questions: Could the Slavic peoples, particularly the Serbs, have encountered silk directly at its point of origin in Northern India rather than through the Silk Road? And also, is it possible that they were present in the Balkans earlier than conventionally believed and introduced this word to the Celtic inhabitants of the region?

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Ancient Middle-Eastern Artefacts Unearthed near Han, Croatia

This is a story about a group of mysterious artifacts that were recently published in one Balkan metal detecting group online. The artifacts were found a few months ago in the mud of a river near Han, Sinj, Croatia. The group consists of two pieces of a bronze belt and an intricately decorated vase. They are likely from a rich burial that was washed out by the river. However, what makes these objects so strange is that they appear to be Assyrian, which is not something that would be expected to be found deep in Croatian territory.

I spoke to the person who discovered the artifacts, and I believe that they are authentic. He told me that he has already contacted several museums, but they have not been able to provide any concrete answers, as they do not have experts who are qualified to assess artifacts from this unusual find.

However, I strongly believe that they might be Assyrian, and in the further text I will explain why.

The Symbolism of the Han Belt Buckles – Ring of Kingship

There is very little doubt that these objects have ancient Middle Eastern symbolism. For example, one of the belt buckles depicts a scene that is commonly associated with the bestowal of the ring of kingship. Some of the Middle Eastern cultures that had representations of the ring of kingship include: Hittites, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians and even Egyptians.

The scene generally portrays a king receiving his legitimacy as a ruler from a deity in the presence of witnesses.

In the following image you can see these similarities. The first picture on the right represents Shapurdukhtak of Sakastan – “the queen of Saka”, receiving the ring from goddess Anahit. Below, on the left, there is an image of a Perisan king Ardashir I, receiving the ring from Ahura Mazda. And finally, in the last image, we see the same idea in the Egyptian relief – the pharaoh Sesostris I, with Horus receives ankh from Amon-Ra.

Given these similarities, we can hypothesize that the scene depicts the coronation of an unknown king, perhaps the very owner of the belt.

The Symbolism of the Han Belt Buckles – The Slaying of the Dragon

The second scene is equally interesting. It depicts another very common motif from this same region – the dragon slaying.

The ancient Mesopotamian epic, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is one of the earliest known works of literature in human history. In one of the famous episodes, Gilgamesh and his companion, Enkidu, slay the demon known as Humbaba or Huwawa. Humbaba was a shape-shifter and as such sometimes depicted as a dragon, and sometimes in his humanoid form.

In the picture under the belt piece, you can see that even the position of the hands of both men flanking the monster is very similar. The same is true for their beards.

On the right there are two oher similar depictions from Mesopotamia and Assyria, believed to depict a god destroying a demon of chaos, which is also what Humbaba was.

Assyrian Symbolism?

From the information provided, it’s evident that the belt features symbols from the Middle East. However, it’s challenging to precisely identify the specific culture because many of these cultures frequently shared similar mythological themes and motifs.

Luckilly, these are not the only two objects discovered. And I believe that it is the vase that ponts to the Assyrian origin.

Pazuzu – The Assyrian Humbaba

Pazuzu is a demon or evil spirit that originated in ancient Mesopotamian mythology. It was probably developed later, from Humbaba, and under the influence of the Egyptian Bes. He is often depicted as a grotesque, winged creature with a combination of human and animal features. Pazuzu was considered a malevolent deity, and his primary role was to bring harm, particularly in the form of disease, to people.

Despite being a malevolent entity, Pazuzu was also believed to have protective qualities. In Mesopotamian beliefs, he was sometimes invoked to ward off other evil spirits and demons, essentially acting as a counterforce to protect against supernatural threats. His image and amulets bearing his likeness were used as protective charms by people to safeguard themselves from various misfortunes.

This images were mostly made from terracota, just like in the case of this vase. However, the Croatian figurine has eyes made of lapis lazuli – another indication of a kingly burrial. It’s role here was probably protective, as well as threatening.

The Flower of Anahita

And finally, the flower motif on this vase, also decorated with precious lapis lazuli, could perhaps be a lotus, a flower linked to goddess Anahita.

Anahita, also known as Anahit, is an ancient goddess who played a significant role in Persian and Zoroastrian mythology. She was primarily associated with water, fertility, and the nurturing aspects of the natural world. Anahita was a goddess of great importance in ancient Iran and held a revered position among the deities of the Zoroastrian pantheon.

And as we saw before, she was also associated with kingship, as she is the one who bestowes Shapurdukhtak of Sakastan with the power to rule.

From everything stated so far, it is clear that these object belong to the mythological realm of ancient Mesopotamia and Iran, and it is quite shocking that they were burried for centuries in the mud of a small Croatian river. However, there might be some historical pieces of this puzzle that can paint a clearer picture.

Asseria – an Ancient Megalithic City of Croatia

Located approximately 100 kilometers (equivalent to 62 miles) from the site where these artifacts were unearthed, there exists an ancient megalithic city referred to as Asseria. This name was recognized even in the era of Ancient Rome, although its exact antiquity remains uncertain. Nevertheless, it is evident that Asseria’s roots extend deeply into prehistory. This city served as the center of the Asseriati tribe, which, in turn, was a component of the broader collective known as the Liburnians.

Liburnians – Illyrians with Asian Minor origins

The Liburnians were an ancient Indo-European people who inhabited the coastal region of the northeastern Adriatic Sea, in what is now Croatia. Their territory stretched from the river Arsia (Raša) in Istria to the river Titius (Krka) in Dalmatia, and included the islands of Krk, Rab, Cres, Lošinj, and Pag.

Archaeologists believe that they settled in this area at least around the 10th century BC.

The Liburni were a seafaring people, and their ships were renowned for their speed and maneuverability. They were also skilled craftsmen and traders. The Liburnians were known for their distinctive pottery, jewelry, and weapons.

The Liburnians were first mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC. He described them as a fierce and independent people. The Liburnians often clashed with their neighbors, including the Romans. However, they were eventually conquered by the Romans in the 2nd century BC.

The origin of the Liburni is a matter of debate among scholars. Some scholars believe that the Liburni were native to the Adriatic region, while others believe that they migrated to the region from elsewhere.

One theory is that the Liburni migrated to the Adriatic region from Asia Minor. This theory is based on the claim that the Liburni were related to the Lukka (Lycia), an ancient people who lived in Asia Minor. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. The Liburni language is Indo-European, and their culture is similar to other Indo-European cultures in Europe.

However, the idea that Liburnian origins are in Asia minor was shared by some ancient Greek and Roman authors, as well as modern scholars. For example, Pliny the Elder stated: “Italicus excursus per Liburnos, quae gens Asiatica est, procedit in Dalmatiae pedem”.

Modern scholars often mention similarities with the division in municipalities, that was characteristic for ancient Lycia. Also, just like in Lycia, Liburnians had the main priest, “sacerdos ad aram Augusti Liburnorum” and the emperial cult. And finally, it seems that the matriarchat also played an important role, and in this regards, the similarities between the Liburnians, Etruscans and Asia Minor were noted already by Herodotus.

Iapydes – Illyrians with Asian origins

We saw that the connection between Liburnians and Lycia is often disputed by some scholars, and their main counter-argument is based on the language (of which only a few words and personal names are preserved). However, the city where these objects were discovered belongs to a larger region of Croatia known as Lika.

In ancient times, Lika was inhabited by Iapydes, another Illyrian tribe. They were the neighbours of the Liburnians. Little is known of Iapydes, and modern scolars often depict their territory inland, away from the coast. However, Iapydes were without a doubt also skilled sailours, as they founded Iapygia in the south-eastern Italian peninsula. In Iapygia, the Iapydes were known for their colorful and ornate clothing, which is similar to the traditional clothing of modern Balkan nations. This style of clothing is also common among other Slavic people, all the way to Russia, Ukraine, and other non-Slavic nations in Asia.

Most scholars would disagree, but perhaps there is a connection between Iapydes and Iazyges – a Sarmatian tribe that live around Danube river in Roman times.

Conclusion

Whoever made this ancient burial in Croatia did so in the period when the Illyrians rulled these lands. It is impossible to say whether these people came from the Middle East via Asia Minor, following the sea route, which would point to the Liburnian connection, or via land, which would perhaps point to the Sarmatian connection.

But the fact remains that there was once an Asseriati tribe in Illyria, and their city of Asseria. There is also a high probability that the toponyms Lycia in Asia Minor and Lika in Croatia are connected.

But perhaps the biggest problem is that nobody takes Slavic medieval scolars seriously. Virtually all of them claimed that the Slavs settled the Balkans and the Meditteranean region from Babylon, before spreading to the north of Europe during the Roman times. Could this theory explain why there are no traces of Middle Eastern languages in ancient Illyria?

I covered this topic in another article. See here.

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Astronomical Interpretation of the Main Relief of the Yazılıkaya Chamber A

The Hittite Rock Sanctuary of Yazılıkaya is a large rock-cut sanctuary located about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) northeast of Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite Empire. It is the largest known Hittite rock monument and is one of the most important ritual sites of the Late Bronze Age in Anatolia.

The sanctuary consists of two open-air chambers cut into the bedrock. The larger chamber (Chamber A) is decorated with reliefs of deities, including the Storm-god Teššub, the Sun-goddess Hebat, and the Weather-god Tarḫunna. The smaller chamber (Chamber B) is decorated with reliefs of the king and queen, as well as other figures.

The sanctuary is oriented so that the sun shines directly into Chamber A on the spring equinox. This suggests that the sanctuary was used to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

In a very informative online lecture titled: “The Sun, the Moon and the Stars, as seen by Hittites and Luwians”, a geoarchaeologist Eberhard Zangger provided a very convincing astronomical reading of the the Chamber A relief.

In short, the deities in Chamber A of the Yazılıkaya sanctuary depict the 12 lunar months of the year, the 30 days in each lunar month, and the 19-year Metonic cycle, which is a period of time after which the solar and lunar calendars align.

However, when discussing the central relief, which depicts a group of the most important deities, he identifies them without a correlating astronomical interpretation. In this article, I will offer my own perspective on this matter.

Teshub – Orion & the Spring Equinox

Teshub (also spelled Teššub, Te, and Teya) was the Hurrian god of the storm, as well as the head of the Hurrian pantheon. He was one of the oldest Hurrian deities and is considered a “pan-Hurrian” god. He was depicted as a bearded man wearing a horned helmet and a long robe. He was often depicted holding a lightning bolt in his right hand and a thunderbolt in his left hand. He was responsible for securing the growth of vegetation by sending rain.

The main attributes of Teshub are the same as those of other storm gods, such as Adad, Baal, Zeus, Jupiter and Perun, to name a few. In astronomical terms, these deites usually represent the Orion constellation, which descends facing the Earth during the rainy months of the spring. The “raised arm” of the Orion constellation is often visible in the depictions of these deites, which sometimes have one arm raised, or they hold a an extended object, such as a bow, a mace, or a thunderbolt.

In this particular scene, Teshub stands on the shoulders of two deities, labeled as Namni and Hazzi, which usually come together, and which are considered to be mountain gods. However, in my opinion, they represent the Gemini constellation. Due to the phenomena known as Precession of the equinoxes, the spring equinox was in the Gemini constellation roughly between the 7th-5th millennia BC. Then, around 4,700-2,500 BC, it moved to Taurus. The consteallation of Taurus is usually connected with Orion, and that is why many of these storm gods have assosications with bulls (Zeus, Shiva, Baal…).

In other words, this image clearly depicts this continuity – the Orion constellation, as a marker of the spring equinox, stands on the shoulders of the Gemini – the previous marker of the spring equinoi.

Hebat – Virgo & the Summer Solstice

Hebat (also spelled Hepa or Hepatu) was the Hurrian queen of heaven, and a goddess of healing and fertility. She was the consort of the weather god Teshub and the mother of the storm god Sharruma. She was often depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a horned crown and a long robe. She was holding a lotus flower in her hand, which was a symbol of fertility and rebirth.

In my opinion, she represents the Virgo constelaltion, which is often depicted as a beautiful young woman, and related to rebirth and fertility. In the past, when the spring equinox took place in the constellations of Orion and Taurus, Leo was the marker of the summer solstice.

However, in those earlier days, when the spring equinox had taken place in the Gemini constellation, the summer solstice took place in Virgo. As a queen of heaven, she was not easilly replacable, so she was simply added on top of Leo, the next astronomical marker. This is not a unique representation. The Phrygian goddes Cybele, and Indian Durga were also associated with lions, for this same reason.

Allanzu and Kunzisalli – Aquila & the Autumn Equinox

Alanzu and Kunzišalli were two Hurrian deities who were associated with the moon. In this scene, they stand on a double-headed eagle. The double-headed eagle represents autumn equinox in the constellation of Aquila – the eagle. The duality of two heads relates to the equal length of day and night that takes place during the equinox. The Aquila constellation lies above the Scorpio constellation, and it used to mark the autumn equinox in the same period when the spring was in Taurus and summer was in Leo – 4,700-2,500 BC.

After 2,500 BC, this role will be assigned to Libra, the next marker, that also represents the balance of day and night during equinox.

However, identifying the Allanzu and Kunzisalli amongst the constellations is not an easy task, as there are no pairs of androgenous figures in this part of the sky. Perhaps, they were an ancient represenation of the Sagittarius, which had marked the autumn equinox before Aquila.

Sarruma – the Winter Solstice

Sarruma was a Hurrian god of mountains and war. He was the son of the weather god Teshub and the sun goddess Hebat. He was often depicted as a young man wearing a horned helmet and a long robe. He was holding a spear in his right hand and a shield in his left hand. In the scene above, he stands on an animal identified as a leopard.

The fact that Sarruma must have been a marker of the winter solstice should be quite obvious by now. He is also depicted as the smallest one in the group, perhaps relating to the idea of the shortest days of the year. However, identifying him with a specific constelation is not an easy task – but the region of the sky in question is without a doubt that of Aquarius and Pisces. It is interesting that Shiva, with his bull Nandi (Orion and Taurus), as well as Dyonisus/Bacchus (also Orion) was often depicted on a skin of a leopard. This is perhaps points to the same astronomical symbolism, now forgotten.

Final thoughts

As explained at the beginning of this article, the chamber A of the Yazılıkaya rock-sanctuary is filled with astronomical symbolism. It would be therfore unusual if the main relief of that chamber does not relate to the same idea.

In this article, I shared my own view of the possible astronomical correlations. If I am right, this is just another proof the immensly long continuity of astromonical knowledge, which had been handed over from one generation to another, and adapted whenever the stars changed their positions. The rock santuary of Yazılıkaya is officialy dated to the second millenia BC, but even the author of this lecture recognises the fact that this knowledge must have predated 3,000 BC.

As for the purpose of the chamber A, while I agree that it could have served as a calendar, it is also possible that it functioned as a kind of lecture hall. In this capacity, it may have been a sacred place where new initiates had the opportunity to acquire this ancient astronomical knowledge.

The lecture “The Sun, the Moon and the Stars, as seen by Hittites and Luwians” is available here.

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On the Mysterious Avar Inscription from Vukovar, Croatia

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a peculiar artifact that had been featured in a Facebook group dedicated to metal detecting. This group serves as a hub for enthusiasts from across the Balkans, sharing their uncoverings. The author of the post asked for help with identification of the object.

The item in question bears a resemblance to an amulet, featuring an inscription in an unidentified language. It was unearthed in the vicinity of Vukovar, Croatia. This is the original photo:

After reaching out, I managed to obtain another picture that offers greater clarity of the inscription. Regrettably, by the time this second picture was taken, the object had already been cleaned. Unfortunately, this cleaning process led to the disappearance of a few lines from both the drawing and the inscription. This is the second image:

The last piece of information that I have is that the other side of the amulet is blank – there is nothing on it.

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE: I managed to buy it off and I donated it to the museum in Vinkovci, Croatia. This museum hosts the largest Avar collection in Croatia. They confirmed that the artefact is authentic and promissed to publish and exhibit it. They will also keep me posted with updates, and I will update this article when that happens.

The Magical Deer

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the central representation of a deer or a stag. The Vucedol culture, which thrived in the region around Vukovar during the Eneolithic period, demonstrated a deep connection to the natural world, and the deer played a vital role within this context.

Deer were often depicted in various forms of Vucedol art, including pottery, sculptures, and even sacred burials. Their frequent presence in artistic representations suggests that they held symbolic importance beyond their material value as a food source. It’s possible that deer were associated with deities, spirits, or cosmological concepts within the Vučedol belief system.

However, this concept is better known from the Scythian art of the steppes. The deer held a vital role in Scythian art, signifying both practical and spiritual elements. As skilled hunters, the Scythians relied on deer for sustenance, highlighting their survival abilities. The deer’s presence also had a spiritual dimension, potentially linking to the divine or cosmic realms. Deer was often engraved on precious items, showcasing status and reverence within the Scythian society.

The Mysterious Script is Kárpát-Medencei Rovásírás?

Initially, my thoughts leaned towards a connection between the inscription and the Linear scripts of the Mediterranean, considering the established links between the Vucedol people and the Minoans. However, upon closer analysis, the characters bear a resemblance to a blend of Old Hungarian and Khazar script, suggesting a more recent origin for the object.

Indeed, the majority of the letters bears resemblence to the Old Hungarian script known as Rovásírás. See here. This script bears the name of the minority known as Szekely. See here. The true identity of the Szekely is unknown, but nowadays it is assumed that they were of Hungarian origin, although they were always considered as a separate group.

However, the name Szekely predates the official arrival of the Huns to the Balkans. It can be etymologicaly linked to the ancient Siculians, who lived on the Balkan side of Adriatic since at least second century AD, as attested in the Ptolemy’s Geography. And perhaps, this name is even more ancient than that, and can be traced to the group of sea peoples known as Shekelsh, attested in the 13th century BC. Sicily was named after them. See here. It is quite probable that Szekely, Sicukians and Shekelsh are all just a variations of the name of the Scythians. These names laso sound like Saqaliba, which was an Arabic medieval designation for Slavs / Sklavins.

In any case, there is one major problem with this being an Old Hungarian inscription – a few letters present on this amulet do not correspond to the Szekely script. Instead, they bear resemblance to the Khazarian rovas script and, ultimately, to the Old Turkic runes found on the steppes.

The Old Hungarian script was first attested in 720 AD. On the other hand, the first notable incursions of the Huns into the Balkans occurred in the late 4th century AD, around the 370s and 380s. Is this inscription a missing link between the original Old-Turkic alphabet and the more recent Old-Hungarian?

It just might be, because there is another ancient script that predates the Szekely Rovasiras. It is known as Kárpát-medencei rovásírás. See here. There are only a handful of inscriptions preserved. Those inscriptions were translated in Old Hungarian, Slavic and Turkic languages.

The language of the Avars?

I believe that this object could have been made by Avars. The history of the Pannonian Avars is indeed related to the Balkans and the region around Vukovar, Croatia. The Pannonian Avars were a nomadic people who established a powerful confederation in the 6th and 7th centuries AD. They played a significant role in the history of the Balkans during this period.

The Avars established their Kaganate, a political and military entity, in the Pannonian Basin, which includes parts of modern-day Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia. Vukovar, located in modern Croatia, was indeed within their domain during their rule in the region. See here.

Indeed, in one of these inscriptions, I might have discovered the same sequence of letters. More info about this inscription here.

Final Thoughts

It won’t be easy to date this object without a translation. I have reached out to a couple of groups that deal with Old Hungarian and Old Turkic scripts, but still haven’t received an answer. I will update this article in case I get more information.

In my opinion, this object belongs to the period when Avars and Huns arrived to the Balkans, somewhere around 3-7th century AD. The language is probably Hungarian, Avar or Turkic. For this reason, I gave up on the attempts to decipher it myself, escpecially because in these scripts the same letter can have a different sound, depending on its position. In other words, it really takes an expert to read it.

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The Novilara Stele Inscription: A New Clue to the Philistine Migrations

The Novilara Stele is a stone slab with an inscription in an unknown language, found in Novilara, a village in the Marche region of Italy. It is dated to the 7th century BC and is the only completely preserved of four texts written in an unknown language called North Picene, written in the Italic alphabet.

The Novilara Stele is now housed in the Museo Preistorico Pigorini in Rome, Italy. It was acquired by the museum in 1889.

On the back side of the stele there is a depiction of warriors and ships. Warriors are depicted in profile, and they are wearing helmets and carrying shields. The presence of warriors and ships suggests that it may have been a funerary monument.

In recent years, there has been some debate about the authenticity of the Novilara Stele. Some scholars have argued that the inscription is a forgery, while others maintain that it is genuine. The main reason for the ongoing debate is that no one has been able to translate the inscription in a way that everyone agrees on.

The inscription is generally legible, but there are a few letters that are ambiguous. The words are divided with small dashes, but sometimes they continue to the next line of the text.

The most common reading of the inscription is as follows:

mimnis. erút . gaarestades
rotnem. úvlin. parten_. ús
polem. isairon . tet
sut . tratnesi. krus
tenag . trút . ipiem. rotnem/s/si
lútúis . ?alú. isperion. vúl
tes . rotem. teú . aiten . tasur
soter. merpon . kalatne
nis. vilatos . paten. arn
uis. balestenag. ands . et
Sút. i/lakút . treten . teletaú
nem. polem. tisu . sotris. eús

My Reading and Translation of the Novilara Stele

Mimnis erútka Arestades – Aresta wrote on this monument
dotnem Uvlin Partenús – daughter of Uvlin Partenus
polem Isaidon  – from the city of Isaidon (Sidon)
tetsut Tratnesi – of the Tartessian nation
Kruntenak Trút Ipiem dotnemlútúim – King Trut Ipie’s daughters
Thalú Isperion – Thalu (and) Isperion
Vúltes dotem Teú – Vulte’s daughter Teu
Aiten Tanúr soter Merpon Kalatnenis – Aiten Tanur’s sister, Merpon Kalatnenis
Filatos Patenarnuis Balestenak – my son Patenarnius the Palestine
and zeti Sut lakut Treten – and my son in law Sut Iakut the Third
Teletaúm polem – from the city of Tell Tayinat
Tinu sotris eús – Tin, protect them.

The toponyms that appear in my translation – Sidon, Tartus and Tell Tayinat, are all in the region of modern day Lebanon. In the period when this inscription was written, this region was known as Palistin (hence Balestenak). Moreover, Palistin was reffered to as Patin/Pattin from the 8-7 century BC. Perhaps this is where the name Patenarnius comes from.

The official reading compared to my reading:

mimnis. erút . gaarestades – mimnis erutka arestades
The letter G is marked as C in the text. I read it as K. I also break the words differently as double AA sound seem unconvincing and a small mark on the stone can simply be a result of aging.

rotnem. úvlin. parten_. ús – dotnem uvlin partenus
The differences between the letters D and P are very subtle in all ancient scripts. The words parten us sound more natural together.

polem. isairon . – polem isaidon
Once again, P=D

tetsut . tratnesi. – – Same as the original
krustenag . trút . ipiem. – Same as the original

rotnem/s/silútúis . – dotnemlutium
The author was not sure how to read this word. I reffered to the picture of the inscription.

?alú. isperion. – thalu isperion
The author was not sure how to read this symbol that looks like a Greek “theta”. I read it as such.

vúltes . rotem. teú – vultes dotem teu
Same as above.

aiten . tasur – alten tanur
After reffering to the image of the inscription, I believe that this is an N, not S.

soter. merpon . kalatnenis – Same as the original
vilatos . paten. arnius – Same as the original, except that “patenarnius” is together.

balestenag. – balestenak (becase the original letter is C)

ands . et – and zet

Sút. i/lakút . treten . – Same as the original
teletaúnem. polem. – Same as the original

tisu . sotris. eús – tinu sotris eus
Once again, I think that this is an N, not S.

In other words, my differences in reading are very subtle, but they significantly change the reading, making it much more comprehensable.

The explanation of my translation of the Novilara stele

Mimnis erútka Arestades – Aresta wrote on this monument

Mimnis is a cognate with the Oscan “memnis”, and Latin “memento”, meaning monument, thing of a memory.
Erutka could be a cognate with Latin “erudit” which originally designated a person who can read and write. This word for writing is also a cognate with the word “rune” and Slavic “rezati, urezati” – meaning “to carve in”. See here.
Arestades then must be a personal name, probably Aresta, as from the next line we see that it is the female who wrote it.

dotnem Uvlin Partenús – daughter of Uvlin Partenus
The word “dotnem” is a form of Slavic “duti/doti” – “daughter”. The English word has the same PIE root. See here.
Uvlin Partenus is the name of her father. Perhaps all the lettes V should be read as F, so the name would be Uflin.

polem Isaidon  – from the city of Isaidon (Sidon)
Polem is a cognate with Greek “πόλις” (polis) – city. See here.
Polem is also a cognate with the Slavic word “polje” – “field” which is probably in the root of the Greek word, as it cannot be the oposite. “-polje” is a common suffix in Slavic toponyms. See here.
Isaidon probably reffers to the city of Sidon in Lebanon. The Arabs called it Ṣaydūn. See here.

tetsut Tratnesi – of the Tartessian nation
tetsut would be a form of PIE “tewtéh₂“, meaning “tribe, people”. See here.

Kruntenak Trút Ipiem dotnemlútúim – King Trut Ipie’s daughters
The first word Kruntenak is obscure. I could be wrong, but I see it as a compound word from Slavic “kruna” – “crown” (cognates) and tenere – to hold. See here. In other words, “crown-holder” – king.
Trút Ipie – A personal name
dotnemlútúim – ”daughters” – plural of “doti”.

Thalú Isperion – Thalu (and) Isperion
The names of the daughters

Vúltes dotem Teú – Vulte’s daughter Teu
Vulte (or Fulte) – a personal name.
dotem Teú – daughter Teu.

Aiten Tanúr soter Merpon Kalatnenis – Aiten Tanur’s sister, Merpon Kalatnenis
Aiten Tanur is a personal name. Aiten could be a cognate with the Greek Athens.
soter – The word “soter” means “saviour” in ancient Greek. See here. However, judging by the context, I believe that here it means “sister”. See here.
Merpon Kalatnenis – the name of the sister. The name Merpona also appears in the Rhaetic inscriptions (in my translation). See here.

Filatos Patenarnuis Balestenak – my son Patenarnius the Palestine
Filatos could be a cognate with the Latin “filus” – son. See here.
Paternarius Balestenak – The name of the son. Balestenak probably meant “from the Palistin”. This word also sounds like the Slavic toponym Bela Stena (white rock). See here.

and zeti Sut lakut Treten – and my son in law Sut Iakut the Third
The word and is the same word as the English “and”. This word appears in other, officialy accepted readings of the Iberian peninusla. In Lusitanian inscriptions it is marked as “indo” and “indi”. The neighbours of the Lusitanians were the Tartessians. Their name sounds similar to Tratnesi from this isncription. More on that later.
zeti – This could be a cognate of Slavic “zet”, meaning “son in law”. See here.
Sut Iakut – a personal name.
Treten – the third, from a common IE root.

Teletaúm polem – from the city of Tell Tayinat
Polem means that wer are dealing with another city.
I believe that the best match is the ancient city of Tel Tayinat – the capital of the ancient Palistin.

Tinu sotris eús – Tin, save us. (or “to Tin, our saviour”)
Tinu is a vocative form of Tin. Tin was the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, equivalent to the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus. The invokation of his name makes perfect sense if we consider the time period of the inscription, and the geographical area where it was discovered.
Sotris – “protect/save”, from “soter” – “saviour”.
Eus – them, a cognate with French “eux” – “they”. See here.

In conclusion, the text in this inscription is a prayer to Tin, from a woman named Aresta, and for the safe passage of her family members. It is not clear if this relates to the passage to the afterlife, or a sea voyage to the other side of the Mediterranean sea. Their orgins were clearly not in Italy, but around modern-day Lebanon.

Final thoughts

The kingdom of Palistin (or Walistin) was a small kingdom located in what is now Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.

The kingdom of Palistin was founded by the Philistines, a group of Sea Peoples who migrated to the region in the 12th century BC. The Philistines were a seafaring people who came from the Aegean region. They were skilled warriors and sailors, and they quickly established themselves in the region.

The kingdom of Palistin was a powerful kingdom in its early years. It was able to withstand attacks from the Egyptians and the Assyrians. However, in the 7th century BC, the kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians. The Assyrians destroyed the capital of Palistin, and they deported many of the Philistines.

After the fall of the kingdom of Palistin, the Philistines never regained their former power. They eventually assimilated into the surrounding cultures, and their language and culture disappeared.

Were the Philistines of the Scythian stock?

As I’ve already mention in my article on the sea peoples (see here), one of the main cities of the Philistines was Ashkelon. See here. The Greek name for this city was Scythopolis – the city of the Scythians. And even the Hebrew word “Ashkenaz” designates those who have the Scythian origin.

In the light of this translation, I would like to add that even the name of the city of Sidon could have the Scythian origin. In this form “Isaidon” it sounds like the name of the mysterious Scthian tribe of “Issedoni”, whom Herodotus mentions in the 5th century BC. See here.

According to Herodotus, the Issedones lived in the region of the Jaxartes River (modern Syr Darya), north of the Massagetae. They were a nomadic people, who lived in tents and herded livestock. They were also skilled warriors, and they were known for their use of bows and arrows.

The Issedones were a wealthy people, and they were known for their gold and silver mines. They were also known for their trade with other peoples, including the Greeks and the Chinese.

The emense value of this stele lies in the fact that it opens a window into the language of the last Philistines, and perhaps the Issedoni.

The Phillistines in ancient Iberia and Italy?

As I already mentioned in an older article (see here), the name of Iberian peninsula sounds the same as the Iberia in the Caucasus. Could it be that both regions were named by the same group of people? In my translation, the word Tratnesi reffers to the city of Tartus, but with an attribute “nation” and not the “city” – polis.

Could this be the same tribe that appears in ancient Iberia as the Tartessians? And could this claim be further supported by the use of the word “and”, which is similar to the Iberian “indo/indu” and finally the English “and”?

Could it be that after their empire crumbled, those of the Phillistines who did not want to be subdued, ventured across the seas in their mighty ships, in the search of the new land?

And finally, is this migration of the Phillistines what Herodotus was reffering to, when he claimed that the Etruscan origins lie between Lydia and Egypt? Perhaps he simply knew that a large group of people had settled in Italy from that general area.

We often hear that the Latin alphabet traces its origin to the Phoenican script. But the fact is that the origin of that script lies in Byblos, modern-day Lebanon. See here.

The fact is also that the Sabines of Italy used an alphabet that shares almost 50% of the letters with the Sabeans of the modern-day Yemen. See here.

There is so much more history waiting to be discovered.

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