No matter where a person is in the world, there's a good chance that they know exactly who the Romans of the ancient world were. Before the beginnings of one of the most well-known land empires in the history of the world, the Etruscan civilization ruled the Upper regions of Italy.
Despite this group's existence in a historically rich cultured area of the world, historians have little knowledge about this particular group's culture and lifestyles beyond their elaborate burials.
Just as the Rosetta Stone helped unlock the mysteries of Egyptian hieroglyphics, Archaeologists have discovered a monument that might help provide the much needed insight into this perplexing group in history.
The researchers of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project have just discovered a 500 pound monumental marker at Poggio Colla, which is Northeast of Florence.
The monument was originally placed in front of an Etruscan temple and still has 70 legible letters and punctuation marks.
"Long inscriptions are rare, especially one this long," said principal investigator Gregory Warden. " There will be new words that we have never seen before, since it is not a funerary text. We hope to make inroads into the Etruscan language."
With this civilization existing before the Romans, historians have had difficulty understanding this ancient culture. There has been a lack of discovered legal or personal documents that could provide some insight to any of the parts of everyday Etruscan life.
"Inscriptions of more than a few words, on permanent materials, are rare for the Etruscans," said Etruscan scholar Jean MacIntosh. "This stone stele is evidence of a permanent religious cult with monumental dedications at least as early as the Late Archaic Period. Its re-use in the foundations of a slightly later sanctuary structure points to deep changes in the town and its social structure."
After the monument is properly cleaned in Florence, historians will have a chance to better understand this ancient civilization through the assistance of a Etruscan language expert and the information inscribed into this monument.
"We hope this will reveal the name of the god or goddess that is worshiped at this site," said Warden. "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."
Who knows what kind of impact this discovery can have on ancient history?