First secret from ancient stone tablet revealed


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First secret from ancient stone tablet revealed

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/first-secret-from-ancient-tablet-revealed/


A close-up of a stele found at Poggio Colla, a site of religious ritual for the ancient Etruscans.

MUGELLO VALLEY PROJECT

An ancient tablet recently unearthed in Tuscany has revealed its first secret: the engraved name of a goddess linked to fertility.

The 500-pound (227 kilograms) stone slab, or stele, was unearthed earlier this year at Poggio Colla, a sixth century B.C. site built by the Etruscans. The stele bears a long inscription in a language that has not been used for 2,500 years, project archaeologist Gregory Warden, a professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told Live Science in April.

Now, translation is underway and archaeologists have discovered that the tablet references the goddess Uni. [Photos: The Tomb of an Etruscan Prince]

“We can at this point affirm that this discovery is one of the most important Etruscan discoveries of the last few decades,” Warden said in a statement. “It’s a discovery that will provide not only valuable information about the nature of sacred practices at Poggio Colla, but also fundamental data for understanding the concepts and rituals of the Etruscans, as well as their writing and perhaps their language.”

etruscan-stele.jpg

The 500-pound stele, partly cleaned, bears the name of the Etruscan fertility goddess Uni and the head of the Etruscan pantheon, Tina.

MUGELLO VALLEY PROJECT

Mother goddess?

Uni was an important goddess linked to fertility. Previously, the most famous find at Poggio Colla was a piece of ceramic depicting a woman squatting to give birth, perhaps suggesting that a fertility cult worshiped at the site, according to Warden.

The Etruscans were a heavily religious society that started around 700 B.C. in modern-day northern and eastern Italy. They flourished until they were absorbed by Rome, a gradual process that took place between 500 B.C. and 100 B.C.

There are at least 120 characters on the Poggio Colla stele, making it the longest Etruscan inscription ever found on stone and among the longest three sacred texts ever discovered, researchers will report in a yet-unpublished article in the journal Etruscan Studies. The inscription might express the laws of the sanctuary, Warden said, perhaps outlining the ceremonies that took place there. Archaeologists have deciphered another word on the tablet, “Tina,” which refers to the head god of the Etruscan Pantheon (much like Zeus for the Greeks).

Striking find

Archaeologists have been digging at Poggio Colla for 21 years, and found the slab at the very end of the most recent field season at the site. It’s about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide and made of sandstone. Because the stone is scuffed and chipped, researchers are painstakingly cleaning it in order to translate the words. Etruscans left behind few texts because they mostly wrote on linen or erasable wax tablets. Understanding Etruscan religious belief and ritual is important because as the civilization was engulfed by Rome, it influenced Roman culture and belief.

Most previously discovered texts are short inscriptions on graves, according to Warden. One linen book written in the Etruscan language was found on an Egyptian mummy — recycled as wrappings. Otherwise, researchers know little about Etruscan religious rituals, other than that they were polytheistic.

Though the stele is still being cleaned and studied, a hologram projection of it will be displayed in Florence on Aug. 27 as researchers announce the translations they’ve made so far.

Original article on Live Science.

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AP documents 72 mass graves in territory freed of IS


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LORI HINNANT and DESMOND BUTLER,Associated Press 30 minutes ago

Lightning strike kills more than 300 reindeer in Norway


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Lightning strike kills more than 300 reindeer in Norway

Lightning kills over 300 reindeer in Norway
Lightning kills over 300 reindeer in Norway 02:05

Story highlights

  • 323 wild reindeer killed after being hit by a single lightning strike
  • The carcasses were scattered across Norway’s mountain plateau, Hardangervidda

(CNN)More than 300 reindeer have been killed by a single lightning strike at a Norwegian national park.

Pictures released by the Norwegian Environment Agency on Sunday show 323 carcasses scattered across a small, isolated area in Hardangervidda National Park. The plateau-like park in south-central Norway is home to Europe’s largest herds of wild reindeer, according to its website.
One of the agency’s inspectors discovered the dead animals over the weekend after a storm passed through.
Wild animals are occasionally struck by lightning, but the agency has never seen so many killed at once, spokesperson Kjartan Knutsen told CNN.
“We have never experienced such numbers before. This is very large,” Knutsen said. He said the wild reindeer were huddled together because of heavy weather on Friday, when the strike occurred.
“That’s why it’s possible for the lightning to kill so many,” he said.
The Norwegian park is home to Europe's largest herds of wild reindeer.

Humans rarely visit the remote area. The dead reindeer were found by one of the agency’s inspectors because Norway is in the midst of its annual wild reindeer hunting season.
Knutsen said five reindeer were still alive when the inspector came across the scene, but they had to be euthanized.
He said the agency has now begun taking samples from the dead animals as part of a health survey.
“We know they were killed by lightning, but this testing is for science,” he said.
The dead reindeer were still on site Monday. While the agency usually does not remove animals when they die in the wild, it is currently considering other options because of the large numbers, Knutsen said.
It’s not the first time a large herd of animals have been killed by lightning. In 2005, 68 cows were killed in Australia by a single bolt.