29926 - Etruscan Epigraphy (1) (2nd cycle)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Basic knowledge of etruscan language and of cultural and historical writing transmission dynamics.


Course contents

The course begins on March 18, 2019 and takes place on Wednesday (11-13, Seminary Room of San Giovanni in Monte 2), thursday (13-15, Fumagalli Room), friday (9-11, Fumagalli Room).

The course provides the main features for reading and understanding Etruscan inscriptions, through the diachronic analysis of the writing phenomenon in Etruria. The course consists of an in-depth study of the Etruscology and Italic Archeology, offering a perspective of specific research and capable of integrating the knowledge of the socio-political structures and cultural features of Etruscan civilization.

Onomastic system and society from the orientalizing period to the archaic period. Introduction: acquiring and diffusion of the writing practice in Etruria. Learning and changing the alphabet phases and the development of different alphabets. The problem of the Etruscan language. Morphological and syntactical functions: the inflexion of names and verbs. Writing as a sign of social prestige. Origin of onomastic system and social structure during the orientalizing period. Onomastic system and social mobility. The archaic period and the overcoming of demos.  Epigraphic documents from sanctuaries: formularies, contents and value of the votive inscriptions. Etruscan epigraphy as source for the reconstraction of the religion.

A Laboratory on Etruscan Epigraphy (Dr. A. Gaucci) is available and it's recommended for those students who want to deepen their knowledge of inscriptions. 


All the books are available at the library of the Department of History, Cultures and Civilization - Archaeology section, Piazza S. Giovanni in Monte, 2 Bologna

- H. Rix, La scrittura e la lingua, in M. Cristofani (a cura di), Gli Etruschi una nuova immagine, 1984 (o successive ed.), pp. 199-227;

- V. Bellelli-E. Benelli, Gli Etruschi. La scrittura, la lingua, la società, Roma 2018;

- Gli Etruschi maestri di scrittura. Società e cultura nell'Italia antica (Catalogo della mostra), Milano 2016 (le schede degli oggetti inscritti).

- For those students not attending classes also two of these books: D.F. Maras, Il dono votivo. Gli dei e il sacro nelle iscrizioni etrusche di culto, 2009 (solo la parte I, escluso il catalogo); E. Benelli, Lingua ed epigrafia, in G. Bartoloni (a cura di), Introduzione all'Etruscologia, 2012, pp. 419-446; E. Benelli, Iscrizioni etrusche. Leggerle e capirle, 2007.


Teaching methods

The reading of inscriptions and the analysis of their contexts allow the student to fully understand the historical value of the texts in the broader picture of Etruscan civilization.

Students, if interested, can integrate lessons with practical activities such as workshop activities offered by the Departments and, in particular, can join excavation activities in the Etruscan town of Marzabotto (Bologna).

Assessment methods

The evaluation consists on an oral examination, during which the teacher is going to ask questions, related to those topics and inscriptions illustrated and debated at lectures and/or found in the bibliography.

The assessment of students is based on their ability to refer the acquired knowledge by using the field-specific terminology and by framing consistently a specific topic in its related period.

Those students who demonstrate to have a systematic perspective of topics covered during lectures and/or in the above-mentioned bibliography, mastering them critically, also by using field-specific terms, will be given a mark of excellence. A mnemonic knowledge of the subject with the ability to sinthetize/analize, with correct, although not always field-specific command of the language will be rewarded with a 'fair' mark. Those students who demonstrate minimal knowledge of the subject, showing gaps and/or inappropriate command of the specific language will be given a pass mark or just above the pass mark. Significant knowledge gaps, insufficient field-specific language, lack of those abilities to frame correctly the covered topics and to orientate themselves among the bibliographical materials will not be given a pass mark.

Teaching tools

During the lessons visual aids will be widely used, especially slides and projections from computer. Explanatory paper materials, concerning specific subjects of the course, will be handed out in classroom

Office hours

See the website of Elisabetta Govi