Tag Archives: history

Trekking across Tuscany to discover Etruscans sites

Hiking across Tuscany to discover Etruscan sites

FLORENCE, ITALY – Slow-tourism is what inspires the many trekking tours that stretch across the Region. For this reason Florence TV, the institutional TV of the Florence metropolitan area, shoot a video with suggestions and information.

Toscana Terra Etrusca is a 90 km route that runs through the Tuscan colourful countryside, woods, olive fields and vineyards. A panoramic walk that invigorates body and soul while promoting the discovery of Etruscan ancient sites.

Funded by the Tuscany Region, Toscana Terra Etrusca is a special pedestrian itinerary set up by the Metropolitan City of Florence as part of the Tuscan Hiking Network R.E.T

The trail starts from the via Francigena, between Fucecchio and San Miniato and follows the typical scenic routes, through olive fields, vineyards, and the dry-stone walls scattered along the Tuscan hills. Passing through Cerreto Guidi and Vinci, hikers will be able to reach the Archaeological Area of Pietramarina, the fortified ruins of an ancient religious site.

Not to be missed is the13 km path from Capraia leading to Limite, where the Etruscan settlement on the hills of Montereggi will offer a breathtaking panoramic view of the Arno Valley. Also on this trail is Tomba dell’ uovo in Pulignano, an Etruscan tomb which was discovered in 2002.

Continuing along this path, the tour crosses over the area of Prato, leading to the necropolis of Prato Rosello, the Archaeological Museum of Artimino, and the Etruscan tumulus of Boschetti and Montefortini in Comeana.

The next destination is Signa where we recommend a visit to the Aquarium inside the Museum of Straw. Moreover, a bike trail along the River Arno is accessible from Parco dei Renai. From the station of San Donnino, in Campi Bisenzio, the route detours to Rocca Strozzi where an archaeological museum is due to be opened. The trail then continues to the archaeological site of Gonfienti in Prato, which is renown to be the legendary Etruscan City of Camars.

Back on the banks of the River Arno, the bike trail will run to Parco delle Cascine, where the National Archeological Museum was inaugurated in 1871. The trail stretches as far as Fiesole, Here the Archeological Museum located by the Roman Theatre will enthral visitors with its historical atmosphere.

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The Etruscan stele was embedded in the foundations of a monumental temple where it had been for more than 2,500 years. (Credit: Mugello Valley Project)

Artifact from lost culture found in Mugello

FLORENCE, ITALY – Archaeologists in Mugello have discovered a rare sacred text in the Etruscan language that is likely to yield rich details about Etruscan worship of a god or goddess.

The lengthy text is inscribed on a large 6th century BCE sandstone slab that was uncovered from an Etruscan temple. A new religious artifact is rare: most Etruscan discoveries typically have been grave and funeral objects.

“This is probably going to be a sacred text, and will be remarkable for telling us about the early belief system of a lost culture that is fundamental to western traditions,” said in a press release archaeologist Gregory Warden, co-director and principal investigator of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which made the discovery.

The slab, weighing about 500 pounds and nearly four feet tall by more than two feet wide, has at least 70 legible letters and punctuation marks, said Warden, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, main sponsor of the project.

Scholars in the field predict the stele (STEE-lee), as such slabs are called, will yield a wealth of new knowledge about the lost culture of the Etruscans. The stele has at least 70 legible letters and punctuation marks, likely with new words never seen before. The Etruscan civilization once ruled Rome and influenced Romans on everything from religion to government to art to architecture.

Considered one of the most religious people of the ancient world, Etruscan life was permeated by religion, and ruling magistrates also exercised religious authority.

The slab would have been connected to the early sacred life of the sanctuary there. The architecture then was characterized by timber-framed oval structures pre-dating a large temple with an imposing stone podium and large stone column bases of the Tuscan Doric type, five of which have been found at the site, Warden said.

Scientists examine the Etruscan stele, weighing about 500 pounds and nearly four feet tall by more than two feet wide.

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Conservation and study of the stele, with full photogrammetry and laser scanning to document all aspects of the conservation process and all details of the inscribed surfaces, is underway in the next few months at the conservation laboratories of the Tuscan Archaeological Superintendency in Florence by experts from the architecture department of the University of Florence. The sandstone, likely from a local source, is heavily abraded and chipped, with one side reddened, possibly from undergoing burning in antiquity. Cleaning will allow scholars to read the inscription.

In two decades of digging, Mugello Valley Archaeological Project has unearthed objects about Etruscan worship, beliefs, gifts to divinities, and discoveries related to the daily lives of elites and non-elites, including workshops, kilns, pottery and homes. This wealth of material helps document the ritual activity from the 7th century to the 2nd century BCE, including gold jewelry, coins, the earliest scene of childbirth in western European art, and in the past two seasons, four 6th-century bronze statuettes.

Etruscans were a highly cultured people, but very little of their writing has been preserved, mostly just short funerary inscriptions with names and titles, said archaeologist Ingrid Edlund-Berry, professor emerita, The University of Texas at Austin.

“So any text, especially a longer one, is an exciting addition to our knowledge,” said Edlund-Berry, an expert in Etruscan civilization. “It is very interesting that the stele was found within the walls of the buildings at the site, thus suggesting that it was re-used, and that it represents an early phase at the site.”

The Poggio Colla site is in northern Etruria. Most inscriptions have come from centers further south, Edlund-Berry said. The stele was officially reported during a scientific exhibit of the Tuscan Archaeological Superintendency starting March 19, Shadow of the Etruscans, in Prato, Italy.

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