Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean

A critical guide to electronic resources


- 8th - 1st century BC

Online resources

Web sites of general interest

  1. Víteliú - Languages of Ancient Italy
    Site dedicated to the knowledge of pre-Roman languages in Italy, in Italian and English, divided into different sections which briefly present the main linguistic groups known from epigraphy. There is a simplified collection of later alphabets and some transcribed epigraphs (for Etruscan only the Pyrgi tablets).
  2. Wikipedia - Etruscan Language
    Particularly detailed and well-made Wikipedia page, with the history of studies, classification, elements of phonology, information about inscriptions and bibliography.
    Page on the Etruscan alphabet, with essential information, in a site which aims to present the history of writing worldwide.
  4. The mysterious Etruscans
    Fairly detailed site, in English and French, dedicated to various aspects of Etruscan civilization. The page dedicated to the language and writing is fairly simple, for teaching and learning. Also useful are the page on Etruscan proper names, the bibliography and a list of links to other sites (unfortunately not always updated).
  5. Promotora Española de Lingüística (Proel) - Lengua etrusca
    Spanish institutional site, recognized by the Ministry of the Interior, dedicated to knowledge about languages and writing from antiquity until the modern age. The section dedicated to Etruscan is developed over several pages, touching on writing, language, historical geography and a basic chronology. The page dedicated to the alphabet is of particular interest: focused on epigraphic documentation, it is enhanced with an extensive collection of images of apographs and photographs of various Etruscan inscriptions, both long and short, monumental and instrumental, with related transcription and (where possible) translation.
  6. Gli Etruschi di Paolo Pastore
    This is the Etruscology section, covering several different areas, within a larger and detailed encyclopaedic site dedicated to ancient peoples and their related artefacts. The page dedicated to the Etruscan language is fairly accurate, and contains data and explanations about the direct and indirect evidence found, about the methodology used in the sector and about graphic and linguistic knowledge. The illustrations are not many but are sufficient to give an overall idea of Etruscan epigraphic material.
  7. Etruscology at its best
    Site in English and German by the Etruscan language scholar D. Steinbauer (Regensburg), it contains an introduction about the origins of the Etruscans, a summary of the grammatical knowledge to date, and a small dictionary of known words and of toponyms. The various parts of the site are supplied with references to the Neues Handbuch des Etruskischen, published by the author in 1999.
  8. ETP (Etruscan Text Project)
    Collection of Etruscan inscriptions published recently, conceived both as a continuation of the Etruskische Texte by Helmut Rix, published in book form in 1991, and as a rapid method to communicate information about new discoveries. The project is edited by Rex Wallace under the auspices of the Center of Etruscan Studies of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The inscriptions are classified based on semantic content and each is furnished with information about place found, chronology and publication bibliography. Ease of use of the site is ensured through a research system of the different fields.
  9. Paleoglot: Ancient Languages, Ancient Civilizations
    A section dedicated to Etruscan in a blog on ancient languages, containing inscriptions and commentaries on lexicon and grammar topics, with interpretations not always worthy of endorsement.
  10. Etruscan Language - Encyclopedia Britannica
    Concise but dense page from the Encyclopaedia Britannica website, dedicated to the Etruscan language and writing system.

Online documents

  1. Rasenna Blog - Etruscan Language and Inscriptions
    Blog with remarks, comments and insights on the main new epigraphic items from pre-Roman Italy
  2. Specchio etrusco
    Collection of short, popular articles on Etruscology, by Cinzia Dal Maso.
  3. George Dennis, Cities and cemeteries of Etruria, London 1848
    Complete, online transcription of the volume, ed. by Bill Thayer (Chicago University).
  4. R.S.P. Beekes, L.B. van der Meer, De Etrusken Spreken, Coutinho, Muiderberg, 1991
    English translation of Chapter 7 of the original in Dutch, dedicated to the Etruscan language.
  5. Thancvil Cilnei, Articles on Etruscan Culture, Language and Archaeology
    Online collection of short texts under the pseudonym of Thancvil Cilnei: "Etruscan Language"; "Four Short Articles on Etruscan Language"; "The Liber Linteus"; "Bilingual Inscriptions in Etruria"; "The Development of Etruscan Cities"; "The Foundation of Etrusco-Italic Cities and the Division of Urban Territory"; "The Development of Tombs within Tumuli".
  6. Roger Lambrechts, Les miroirs étrusques et prénestins
    Page presenting the engraved Etruscan and Prenestinian mirrors by the well-known Belgian scholar (taken from the Bulletin de la Classe des Lettres de l'Académie Royale de Belgique, 1995, p. 29-57).
  7. Jean-Paul Thuillier, L'alphabet et la langue étrusques
    Brief illustrative comment about Etruscan epigraphy by the French scholar, former Director of the Department of Antiquities at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.

Institutions, centers for study and research

  1. The linguist list - The Etruscan Language
    Pages dedicated to the Etruscan language within a large database about the languages of the world (ODIN: Online Database of INterlinear Text), edited by Eastern Michigan University. The site is also a portal to the news from the world of linguistics and as a collection of study materials. At the moment there are no online documents for Etruscan.
  2. Les miroirs étrusques et prénestins
    Online database dedicated to Etruscan mirrors published in the Corpus Speculorum Etruscorum, edited by the Université Catholique de Louvain, based on a project planned by Roger Lambrechts and continued after his death by Marco Cavalieri. The database, which can be searched once the user registers, contains a list of published engraved mirrors which is being completed, with illustrative material, including a space for the epigraphic documentation often present on this type of material.
  3. Charun. Corpus informatico delle urne etrusche e dei loro contesti
    Integrated database of hellenistic Etruscan urns, with find data, bibliography and history of studies, a large epigraphic section and integrated search features, particularly suited to prosopographic studies of late Etruria. The project, edited by Francesco De Angelis for the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, is still (2009) being completed; to date only the urns from a large series of contexts from the area of Chiusi have been input into the database. Even in its incomplete state, however, the site promises to be an indispensable addition to the study of Etruscan urns. At the moment the database is offline.
  4. CNR - ISCIMA: progetto CAIE
    In the ongoing research at the Istituto di Studi per le Civiltà del Mediterraneo e dell'Italia antica at the CNR [Institute of Studies on the Civilizations of the Mediterranean and Ancient Italy at the National Research Council of Italy], the CAIE (Corpus Automatizzato delle Iscrizioni Etrusche - Automated Corpus of Etruscan Inscriptions) project is particularly important. At the moment there is not yet a web-based version, even partial (see also:

Academic materials

  1. Wikiversità - Etruscologia e archeologia italica
    Part of the project of the "open university" of Wikipedia, providing online materials structured like those of a university course. This Italian page is under construction; there is also a section being planned on the Etruscan language.
  2. Summa Gallicana
    Page in Italian and English dedicated to the Etruscans, within a rather heterogeneous encyclopaedic lexicon edited by Elio Corti, with texts mainly taken from Wikipedia.
  3. Etruschi - L'alfabeto e la lingua: un presunto mistero
    Brief essay in Italian about the Etruscan language, useful as research material for school students.
  4. Museo di Castiglion Fiorentino
    The notebook no. 1 (quaderno didattico n. 1, in Italian) published on the website of this museum offers a page about Etruscan writing, based on some documents exhibited at the museum. The text is mainly didactic and is part of a positive series of initiatives aimed at facilitating interest in Etruscan history in school pupils and enthusiasts.
  5. Archaeological guide to Veii
    Online edition of the guide to the ancient Etruscan city of Veii, by Alessandra Reggi and Rita Turchetti, with contributions by distinguished specialists. The chapters on the site of Casale Pian Roseto (p. 38) and on the sanctuary of Portonaccio (pp. 57-59) are particularly relevant to the field of the Etruscan language and writing system.


  1. Gregorian Etruscan Museum
    Web page of the Vatican Museums, containing information about some pieces exhibited, with downloadable images. For Etruscan epigraphy, the information about the "Putto Carrara" - a bronze statue with inscription from Tarquinia dating from the second half of the 4th/early part of the 3rd century BC - is of interest.
  2. Archeological Heritage Bureau of Rome
    This website has a fairly good and organized photographic archive of the materials kept in the main museums of Rome. The site has a research function and images can be either visualized or directly acquired online for studying or use on the web, in multimedia or in print publication. The incised bucchero aryballos from Volusia, south of Veii (, and an early inscription on bucchero from the Palatine hill ( are of particular interest for Etruscan epigraphy.
  3. Collection from Chiusi
    Promotional site of a 19th century collection being sold by the owners. In the introductory page, together with some data about the history of the lot of archeological materials, there is the declaration of the "exceptional interest" of the collection on the part of the Italian Ministry for Artistic Heritage and Cultural Activities. This automatically places the collection under protection, prohibits its division and confers the right of pre-emption to the Ministry in case the objects are being transferred. Notable among the objects are three bell-shaped clay cinerary urns with painted inscriptions and a jar with an etched inscription.


  1. The etruscan Liber Linteus
    Sizeable and detailed independent site in English, edited by G.Z. Bodroghy, about the Liber Linteus. It has images mostly taken from the catalogue of the exhibition "Scrivere Etrusco" held in Perugia in 1985. The possibility of reviewing the apograph of the strips in which the liber is divided and the transliteration of the texts is particularly useful.
  2. Etruscan News
    Online publication of the American section of the Institute for Etruscan and Italic Studies, housed at NYU.


  1. Font selection
    By clicking on Etruscan Epigraphic (Jack Kilmon), the user can download a TTF font which reproduces - in a regularized and not particular accurate way - the outline of the letters from the tablet of Marsiliana d'Albegna.
  2. Old Italic
    Presentation of some fonts for ancient writing systems, with links for downloading them.
  3. The Etruscan font
    The Etruscan mid/late bold font is a "squared" e regularized version of early (upper case) and later (lower case) Etruscan writing, complete with the symbols for the numerals.
  4. Etruscan alphabet
    Brief presentation of the Etruscan alphabet, with links to the Etruscan mid/late bold font.
  5. Alphabetum Unicode font
    Multilingual Unicode TTF font for the graphic transcription of ancient languages, including Etruscan and other languages of pre-Roman Italy
  6. Etruscan by Dave Bastian
    Stylized font based on the alphabetic series in the tablet from Marsiliana D’Albegna.
  7. Tastiera Etrusca Virtuale Unicode (TEVU)
    The project of an Etruscan virtual keyboard has the laudable goal of allowing the literal transcription of Etruscan inscriptions avoiding the use of diacritics and conventional signs, which are otherwise necessary for the transcription in Latin alphabet. Regrettably, though, the proposed graphic selection is also conventional since it includes mostly archaic signs (theta, ny and qoppa), non Etruscan forms (four traits my, square pi), exclusively Italic letters (sign d, iota and ypsilon with diacritics, two tailed delta ) and signs found only in the most ancient abecedaries (beta, delta). In short, the use of this system might lead to more confusion than the traditional transcription. Nevertheless, this keyboard is surely an interesting tool accessible to all wishing to become acquainted with the Etruscan and Italic alphabets. Moreover it may promote further reflection on the reading of inscriptions. In order to improve its functionality, though, the authors should make available the use of right-handed characters or the change of directionality from right to left as it is already the case in the keyboards available for other writing systems (i.e. Modern Hebrew).

Museums and collections

  1. Museum of Etruscan and Italian Antiquities
    Short page, dedicated to Etruscan epigraphy and containing a description of material exhibited, of the museum of La Sapienza University in Rome.
  2. Museo di Castiglion Fiorentino
    (See "Teaching Materials" section above)
  3. Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Marzabotto
    The website of the museum, dedicated to the excavations around the Etruscan city located in the Padana Valley, has a page on the epigraphs, with a few images of the inscriptions found there and an introductory text, brief and summary, about the epigraphy of the city.
  4. Schöyen Collection
    Website presenting a heterogeneous collection of manuscripts of early writing from prehistory to the Middle Ages, kept in Oslo and in London. Among the images on the site there are two engraved Etruscan bronze mirrors, one of which is evidently false (at least the epigraph, if not all: MS 565/2 -, while the other, based on the image, is probably authentic (MSS 565/1 -
  5. Tabula Cortonensis
    Webpage dedicated to the important Tabula Cortonensis inscription, providing information, illustrative material and a translation attempt (into Italian) by the etruscologist Massimo Pittau.
  6. Etruscan Language and Inscriptions - The Met
    Short introductory page by Theresa Huntsmann on the Etruscan collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which includes several inscriptions.

Collections of texts and digital libraries

  1. An etruscan vocabulary
    Brief but accurate Etruscan vocabulary list within the site "Viteliu", dedicated to the languages of ancient Italy.
  2. Lingua etrusca (vocabolario)
    Wikipedia page with a small collection of greater or lesser known words from the Etruscan language, in alphabetical order and with some attempt to translate (into Italian); the sources of these translations are varied, and not always certain from a scholarly point of view.
  3. Etruscan glossary
    Pages with a sample of an Etruscan dictionary, compiled by Rick Mc Callister and Silvia Mc Callister-Castillo, with efforts at translations and relative bibliographic references. These latter unfortunately are not explained and so can only be understood intuitively on the basis of the initials of the authors cited (e.g., "mp" = Massimo Pallottino; "mc" = Mauro Cristofani).
  4. The Etruscan People and Their Language
    Personal page by Damien Erwan Perrotin about the Etruscan Language, containing a small dictionary with more-or-less acceptable attempts to translate and to compare to Indo-European languages.
  5. Lacus Curtius: Into the Roman World
    Library of classical texts in original language (Greek and Latin) and/or in English translation, with the images and fundamental modern texts for the history of classical archaeological studies. Here can be found, e.g.: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, by William Smith; A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, by Samuel Ball Platner; Pagan and Christian Rome, by Rodolfo Lanciani; and much more.
  6. La lingua etrusca - Scritture dimenticate
    Section dedicated to Etruscan in a website on deciphering ancient languages and writing systems which contains excerpts from publications by Giulio M. Facchetti, a professor at the Insubria University. A short list of online resources for the Etruscan language is also provided.
  7. The Roman Law Library - Lingua Etrusca et Italica
    Website with resources for the Roman law: section 16 contains bibliographical material and information on the Cippus Perusinus and on the Tabula Cortonensis and a bibliographical review on Etruscan law by Giulio M.Facchetti.


  1. Massimo Pittau
    Personal website of Massimo Pittau, formerly Full Professor of Linguistics and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities in Sassari, who dedicated a large part of his research and writing to the Etruscan language. His theoretical views are evident in the titles of some of his works: "La lingua dei Sardi Nuragici e degli Etruschi" ["The Language of the Sards and of the Etruscans"] (1981), "Lessico Etrusco-Latino comparato col Nuragico" ["Etruscan-Latin Lexis compared with Nuragic"] (1984), "Origine e parentela dei Sardi e degli Etruschi - saggio storico-linguistico" ["Origin and relationships of the Sards and the Etruscans"] (1996). In the section about Etruscan there are many of his presentations available online, and some pages are comments about the most important Etruscan inscriptions.
  2. Massimo Pallottino
    Brief biographical page from Wikipedia, dedicated to the founder of modern Etruscology.
  3. Wilhelm Paul Corssen
    Entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica about this German philologist, author of "Über die Sprache der Etrusker".


  1. Etruscan Network
    Review of bibliographies and websites about various aspects of Etruscan civilization, edited by the School of Information and Library Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Although a little outdated, it is still valuable to a certain extent.
  2. Languages on the web - Etruscan
    Review of links about the Etruscan language within a site mostly dedicated to living languages.
  3. Ressources électroniques. Quelques points d'entrée spécialisés
    Repertory of specialized online resources for humanistic topics within the Bibliotheca Classica Selecta of the University of Leuven: the entry "Étrurie: culture et civilisation" contains a brief review of internet sites dedicated to Etruscology.
  4. Etruscans on the web
    Wide-ranging review in English of sites dedicated to Etruscology, edited by the Open University (British institution for distance education). Unfortunately, not always updated, especially as regards the links to the sites mentioned.