by Mel Copeland
This table began as a comparison of Etruscan words to other Indo-European words, and it is clear that the linkage to Etruscan illuminates some new patterns in Indo-European word relationships. Perhaps in the final analysis of this work we will learn more about the placement of certain languages within the Indo-European family. More so, it may be that Etruscan provides us a bridge into the past, allowing us to see the formative stage of some of the languages. After all, Etruscan is a language frozen in time, having been unread and untouched, as it were, for these past two thousand years. The reader should also note that the Etruscan vocabulary upon which this table is based is a working vocabulary. It is composed from extant Etruscan writings. The table is not, therefore, an artificial compilation of word relationships of one language to another; rather it is an exposé. I have exposed two classifications or orders of languages which have an affinity to Etruscan. The first order I have colored in red to expose western Indo-European, Latin relationships. Another order I have colored in blue to expose Indo-European languages favoring an eastern relationship. The blue links may, in fact, expose an older, perhaps Eastern, branch which would have included Greek, Sanskrit, Etruscan, French/Gaelic and Albanian sources. Those words colored in green show a group that appears to be in the middle of the original Indo-European family based in the steppes of Russia, north of the Black Sea. Although the traditional view in classifying Indo-European languages is through the assortment of Satem and Centum languages, this table may put that order in question, particularly with regard to Albanian and French. The table will continue to grow in length as more words from the Etruscan vocabulary are added. The table has been summarized as Indo-European Table 2.
It should be noted that the foundation of the Etruscan vocabulary is based upon the isolation of individual words and phrases – without at first regard for meaning – and the establishment of grammatical patterns, where shifts in the affix of words could be discerned. These shifts resembled the Indo-European declension pattern, and the over-all pattern was – and continues to be – that of a language related to Latin.
The next step in analyzing the Etruscan scripts was to apply a comparative translation to Latin, French, Italian and English; the result being the Vocabulary / Glossary. Once a working vocabulary had been established, allowing consistent translations of words and phrases from one script to another, creation of this table became feasible. And as this table takes form a more refined translation of the Etruscan scripts will be obtained. While Etruscan is a dead language and there is no Rosetta Stone available so far, to assist in the translation, we do know that a fair translation is possible with confirmation of consistent shifts from the related languages to Etruscan.
is also quite evident through this table is the
proximity a language may have to Etruscan. When we see
what appears to be a "borrowed word" in Etruscan from
another language, we realize that any borrowing that may
have taken place in the exchange would have ocurred more
than two thousand years ago. Again, the Etruscan
language ceased to exist by the time of Cicero. No one
in his time could speak or read Etruscan. Yet, he took
pride in his Etruscan hereitage. He was born 106 BC, in
Arpinum, Latium (now Arpino, Italy) and died Dec. 7, 43
No language is separate from its artifacts, and perhaps the most significant artifact we can realize from an ancient civilization is its own record. The Etruscan tombs left enormous treasures, filling museums and private collections world wide, but in spite of all the beautiful works they left behind, there is no curator alive today who can tell you what the Etruscans actually thought. A curator or teacher can quote Cicero, perhaps the greatest Roman statesman, but no curator or educator can quote a writing of one of his ancestors. But now we are in a position to do that.
This table already shed light on a curious, often repeated phrase involving the appellation, ATIIERI, ATIIERIE, ATIIERIV, etc. The appellation appeared to be, "Ati gerius" and I translated it as being the ancestoral patriarch Attis/Atys of Lydia, and the devotees in the script being the sons/daughters of Atys. Applying the Albanian word for father, Ate, and Albania njeri, beginning, leaves also the translation, "father of the beginning," i.e., god. Atys, the consort of the mother-goddess Cybele, was a vegetation god of Asia Minor (Phrygia) who symbolized rebirth and the renewal of the seasons. The diety became popular in Rome in the 2nd century AD. Atys, a king of Lydia, is also the name of the father of Tyrhsenus, who led half of the Lydians in their realm to Italy, as a result of a drought following the Trojan war. The Greeks called the Etruscans by the name of Tyrrhenians or Tyrsenians, after the name of the Etruscan leader, Tyrsenus.
When we attempt to reconstruct the diffusion of the Indo-European populations from the steppes north of the Black Sea into Europe and Asia, we have very few things to use. There are artifacts and myths, and if we are lucky a sample of their clothing and remains. We can reconcile those things to the historical records ancient writers, such as Herodotus, left behind. We also have the corpus of sacred texts from various groups. In India there are the Vedas, written in Sanskrit, a dead language (like Latin) that recall stories dating circa. 1,200 BC. The verbal record of Homer, the "Iliad," dating from about 600 BC, tells a little about the Mycennean civilization and the great war involving Troy, a story dating from about 1,200 BC. We have the Persian sacred texts called the Avesta, or Zend-avesta, which is the sacred book of Zoroaster, a Persian prophet of 628 BC. The Mycennean civilization left a body of scripts, known to us as "Linear B," which turns out to be a corpus of tablets, dating about 1,200 B.C., found in ancient Greek fortifications containing inventories and communications involving warfare. Archeological remains of cities from 1,200 BC to about 800 BC reflect a Meditteranean littoral under siege. The ancestors of the Indo-Europeans were quite warlike and continue their warring tradition to this day. Their religion reflected this.
Perhaps in their struggle to eke out a livlihood as a pastoral folk, the ancestors of the Indo-Europeans became more philosophical about life, death, duty and patronage and the affects man could have upon the gods who seemed to control all things. Living in small clans and villages they were destined to be more democratic, relying upon a council of elders to regulate their routines. Heading up each group would be an elected chief or regent.
Among the earliest Indo-Europeans there were the Kurgan folk who lived on the steppes north of the Black Sea about 3,500 BC, arriving in the Aegean and Adriatic regions about 2,300 BC. The Kurgans buried their dead in mounds, or barrows. The word kurgan means “barrow,” or “artificial mound,” in Turkic and Russian. A similar people were the Scythians, a red-headed people whom Herodotus describes in considerable detail. They also practiced mound burials, and the practice spread to Italy, among the Etruscans, and up the western coast of Europe, from Spain to Britain and Germany. The remains of many of their barrows, which have been eroded, can be seen as dolmens to this day. These people spent a lot of their time piling up stones, creating great stone alignments and barrows, the most famous of which is Stonehenge, dating from about 3,000 BC. Along the Mediterranean littoral the Indo-Europeans built great cities, the earliest of which were of the Hittites, whose capital, Hattusus, was just north of what is now Ankara, Turkey. They became a dominant power by 1,340 BC., involving themselves in a great battle, the battle of Kadesh, with Egypt (Seti I and Ramses II) in 1299 BC. By 1190 BC, about the time of the Trojan war, the Hittite empire ceased to exist.
While it is tempting to think that all of the "barrow" folk were Indo-Europeans, there are barrows, or dolemns, found in many places of Asia, including Korea and Japan. Some of the people who left these barrows, beginning about 5,000 B.C., may be Indo-European kin-folk.
languages selected for comparison to Etruscan include
the peoples discussed above. The early Hindu language,
Sanskrit, Avestan (early Persian), Serbo-Croatian and
Belarussian (old Slavic languages), Sudovian (believed
to be an old Baltic language), Greek, Albanian (also
believed to be an old branch of the Indo-Europeans),
Latin; and Scottish Gaelic, Breton Gaelic, French and
Italian form another group for comparison. English
serves a particular measure in the comparison since it
contains many borrowed words from the Gaelic and
"Romance" languages. The foundation of English is low
German and its relationship to Albanian in the working
vocabulary of this table is interesting. The table is in
several sections. Another language, Romanian, is being
added to the Indo-European Table, courtesy of
Constantin Cucu, whose contribution we have recorded as
The basic glossary, Etruscan_glossaryA.xls
is the most current document - updated before all other
documents - to reflect changes in the Etruscan
of current research into the comparison of Finno-Uralic,
Georgian (Kartvelian) and Hurrian-Urartian to the
Indo-European family, we have inserted words from these
groups as available.