The Etruscan language (The Etruscan culture appeared in Italy ~1,000 B.C.) can be treated as a viable language dating c. 1,200 B.C., probably based in Anatolia, when major climatic changes forced Indo-Europeans on the march. Some left Anatolia "because of a long drought," and about the same time in the Rig Veda we see the Aryans singing hymns to their gods, including the now dry Sarasvati river, having to do with the god Indra killing the dragon that holds back the rain and waters of the Sarasvati. The Sarasvati is an old river that, according to the Rig Veda, descended from the Himalyas to the sea. The Sarasvati river ran parallel to the Indus river and included ancient ruins now known as the Harappa Civilization. The rites of the Sarasvati among the Hindus, of inviting the gods to a banquet, to appease the gods so they will be favorable, is essentially the same rite we see among the Sumerians, Egyptians, the Greeks, Etruscans and others. Of these ancients and others the Thracians are of interest because in the Illiad they were well-known for their horses (as were the Etruscans and Trojans), were allies of the Trojans — no doubt spoke a language familiar to the Greeks and the Trojans — and built tombs similar to the Etruscans. In the Illiad Achillês sold one of King Priam's sons to the Thracians. Much of the Etruscan mythology refers back to the Trojan War.
Thracian mural from the Kazanluk Tomb. Thracians were important players in the Trojan War era.
The Etruscans show a rich heritage in their artifacts and tombs having to do with the Trojan war. The date of that war is believed to be about 1,180 B.C, the same time the Hittite empire met its demise and it may be the same time when the Ayans of the Rig Veda marched into the Indus Valley and Sarasvati river basin, although Hindu scholars tend to subscribe to a date ~ 1,500 B.C. or earlier. We can say that the warriors of the Rig Veda were equipped with iron and spoke of iron fortresses. While the word for iron may have included "bronze" it is clear from the Illiad that the time of its war is an Iron Age period, when it speaks of iron weapons and particularly the lump of iron that was thrown in the games around the tomb of Patroclüs. In the Illiad, Book XXIII, "The Funeral of Patroclüs," we are told that "..Achilles brought out a lump of roughcast iron which that mighty man Eëtion used to hurl. When he killed Eëtion, he brought it away with ther est of the spoils. He rose now and said: 'Rise, you who wish to contend for this prize. Any man will have enough here to use for five revolving years, even if his fat fields are far away. No shepherd or plowman will need to visit the city for iron, there will be plenty at home.'"
The Etruscans are a key to understanding the history that has been passed down to us. They had (no doubt long-standing) trade relationships with Phoenicia and Egypt, as well as Western European Celts and Iberians. They became a center in mining and trading iron and may very well have aquired iron smelting technology from Anatolia. They also were known for their workmanship in gold, the raw material of which they may have gotten from Iberian, Thracian, Anatolian, British and Egyptian resources. They were sea-traders and in the story of Dionysus, whose homeland was believed to be Thrace or Phrygia, the Etruscans are remembered as pirates. Apparently a Tyrrhenian ship kidnapped Dionysus and his "nurses" from the island of Icaria. The sailors began to fight over the youth, since he was quite handsome, and the captain of the ship, Acoetes, did as much as he could to protect the young man. Suddenly in spite of a stiff breeze in its sails, the ship stood still and then ivy and grapevines began to entangle everyone on the ship; then wild beasts — panthers, lions and bears — suddenly appeared on deck. Some say that the captain was eaten by a lion. In any event the terrified sailors jumped off the ship and turned into dolphins. As for the dolphins, having once been humans, from thereafter friendly to human beings. Dionysus placed one of them among the stars to commemorate his triumph and, no doubt, as a warning to pirates. Dionysus' travels carried him to many parts of the world, including India and Egypt. Among his many adventures he is said to have routed the Amazons before Heracles made his famous expedition to their country. Dionysus got involved in the war between the gods and the Giants. Led by his braying asses, satyrs, seleni and Hephaestus, Dionysus rushed upon the Giants, but was turned back by the monster Typhon, and flew to Egypt. He and the other gods took refuge there disguising themselves as various animals. Dionysus took the form of a goat. While he and his army or followers were in Egypt they were lost and without water in the desert. Someone spied a stray ram and followed it. It vanished but on the spot where it was they spied a spring. To commemorate this event, Dionysus established a shrine of the ram-headed god Ammon and also placed the ram in the stars as the constellation aries. Dionysus and his followers returned to Olympus after Zeus had thrown the island of Sicily on top of the monster Typhon, who had been chasing them.Our job is to reconcile what we can see in Etruscan artifacts and murals with the Etruscan writings, together with the mythology about which we know they would have written. In this process the Battle of the Amazons script above, which uses words common to other scripts, is an important confirmation of the translations of other Etruscan scripts. For instance, the Etruscan word for king, RVI (written as OVI), roi, is the same as in French. As will be evidenced from Indo-European Tables 1 & 2 the Etruscan language is very close to Latin but has Italian, French and Galic shadows. Of interest with regard to more current data added to this study is the fact that the Table of Declensions reflects declensions that are familiar to Greek declensions.
When one is involved with an archeological study, one must observe and record the data without manipulation and let the results speak for themselves. This is the spirit in which this study was founded and offered. The original results of this study on the Etruscan language were recorded in Table 1 below. Table 1 shows the Etruscan vocabulary in a spread-sheet, mapped with other Indo-European languages. I have color-coded the entries in Table 1 with red, green and blue, to show in graphic form the similarities between words and groups of words according to the three color codes. The table has Etruscan on the right-hand column and the columns to the left of it move, as it were, from west to east. "Red" marks the words which seem to be focused in the western Indo-European mix of languages, with Latin at its center. I call this group, "Latin-Etruscan." "Green" marks words that have affinity to the Germanic, Celtic, Baltic, and Slavic side of the spectrum, among which English is the focus for that group. "Blue" is used to mark words which tend to flow through the eastern side (Sanskrit) of the Indo-European family. What I am looking for through these color codes is a pattern, a few strands, like strands of DNA, that can point to language groups. We find that the strands transcend the commonplace characterization of the "satem" and "centum" group designation for the selected groups of Indo-European languages.
Studying the Etruscans and their Indo-European relations through Table 1.
Indo-European Table 1 is a map showing the relationships of the words found in the Etruscan vocabulary. Because the Etruscan language is frozen in time (~500 B.C.), it is a good reference on the evolution of related Indo-European languages. Just as we now utilize maps of genetic movement through populations, so too can we map the flow of words through populations using a map similar to Table 1.
A major effort is now being exercised in mapping languages. Thus, Table 1 follows, and is a part of, that effort; and there are many discoveries in Table 1 which are fascinating and bear further investigation. Watching the table evolve I am most curious in the part Albanian is playing in it. While one can see a distinct and dominating "red line" running through the table showing Etruscan words and their relatives, mainly Latin, French and Italian, Albanian comes into view as a link between the Italic languages and the Germanic tongues. Those who are proficient in English will appreciate how many Albanian words in Table 1 are familiar to English speakers. Albanian is particularly interesting since the language has survived since before Roman times, and the placement of the Albanian homeland has always been in dispute. Several ancient cartographers placed Albania north of the Caucaus mountains. To see such a map click here: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/eastern_roman_empire.jpg.
The Albanians occupy an area which used to be called Illyria. Some of the people from that area moved across the Adriatic sea into Northern Italy, near Venice, and southern Italy (Apulia), and to this day a dialect of Albanian survives in those regions. The people that occupied Illyria in the first millennium B.C. buried their dead in dolmens and barrows (tumuli), and similar constructions can be seen in Apulia. The Etruscans modified the barrow by digging into the tufa and adorning the tomb with wonderful frescos and reliefs.
The Albanians have been in the cross-roads of history, having been occupied by the Greeks, the Romans, and the Turks (They were under Turkish rule for 500 years), and in spite of the long occupations by each conqueror, their language has survived. In Table 1 you can discern Albanian words which are no doubt from Latin, a few words that are close to Greek, and a lot of words which relate to English roots. Albanians, after a manner of speaking, have experienced — perhaps more so — cultural mixing like the ancient English speaking group(s). Like English, in spite of all the external influences and attempts to displace the root language, the root remains and is quite discernable. We can call those roots "cognates," words that have a similar sound and meaning between two or more languages. Mapping the cognates can reveal how a language spread. Again, since we know that Etruscan is a dead language and has remained as such since before Cicero's time (43 B.C.), we have in Etruscan a [scientific] blind against which we can measure the other languages in Table 1.
What is shown in Table 1 is a map of three Indo-European linguistic strands: an Eastern (Blue), a Middle (Green), and a Western group (Red). The Slavic language group, which is in the main represented in Table 1 by Polish, appears in the "green" zone. Sanskrit, Avestan and Persian I placed in the "blue" zone. What is interesting about Table 1 is that some of the solid "green" and "red" zone languages have words that fall into the "blue," Sanskrit zone. German and Gaelic — including Old English — fall solidly into the (Green) zone, and French, Italian, Etruscan and Latin represent the strongest band in Table 1: the red zone.
As in Albanian and English, the Poles have been occupied by Roman and Germanic interests; so it is no surprise to see a strong representation of those languages in its language. French has from the beginning had a most curious interplay in the Etruscan Vocabulary and Table 1, for there are many Etruscan words whose only cognate is, at the moment, found only in the French language. Some of these cognates tie into the Green strand through Gaelic. Italian cognates also fit into this French-Etruscan map, and many of the cognates fit into the "blue," Eastern field of the Indo-European language map of Table 1.
The Gaelic (Celtic) languages, while fitting solidly into the "green" field of Table 1, seem to have a stronger bias towards the "blue," Eastern field. Welsh, of those Celtic languages most represented in Table 1, harbors a perspective of a group of people with a long-standing presence in the center of the Indo-European migration patterns.
The Welsh, like the Albanians, come from an area which has been a cross-road of civilization. They trace their origins to the Cimri and their traditions, as with the other Celtic peoples, link the Cimri to the Cimmerians, who were the Scythians of the Black Sea area. The Welsh are important in terms of linguistic study, because they were the last of the Celtic peoples to become subdued by the Saxons and the Normans. The mountainous region of Wales became, in fact, a last point of refuge for the Celts fleeing from the invasion of the British islands. Generally, when being pressed by the expansion or invasion of another group of peoples, a group ends up in the more remote, inaccesible and inhospitable regions of their territory. Thus, the Welsh, like the Albanians, who may have occupied the ancient lands of Colchis, north of the Caucaus mountians and now occupy the mountainous regions of the Dalmatian (Illyrian) coast, retain linguistic characteristics of the early Celtic population, least impacted by the Germanic and Roman invaders. Even during the time of the Norman occupation of England (beginning with the battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D., of William the Conqueror), the Welsh continued to maintain their sovereignty and unique Gaelic dialect. Wales held out until the Act of Union of 1536, when it was formally joined to the kingdom of England. The Celts who had settele in Ireland, in fact, had sought Wales as a refuge, when they were invaded; they also invaded the western coast of the island now called England and settled there, leaving the name, Scot, and what we now know as the Scottish dialect. The inhabitants of Scotland during the period of Celtic settlements in the British Isles were Picts. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
"The Picts (from Latin Picti,'painted'), [are] one of an ancient people who lived in what is now eastern and northeastern Scotland, from Caithness to Fife. Their name may refer to their custom of body painting or possibly tattooing.
"Probably descendants of pre-Celtic aborigines, the Picts were first noticed in AD297, when a Roman writer spoke of the 'Picts and Irish [Scots] attacking' Hadrian's Wall. Their warfare with the Romans during the occupation was almost continual. Then or soon after, they seem to have developed two kingdoms north of the Firth of Forth, a southern and a northern; but by the 7th century there was a united 'Pict-land,' which already had been penetrated by Christianity. In 843, Kenneth I MacAlpin, king of the Scots (centred in Argyll and Bute), became also king of the Picts, uniting their two lands in a new kingdom of Alba, which evolved into Scotland.
"The Pictish kingdom is notable for the stylized but vigorous beauty of its carved memorial stones and crosses. The round stone towers known as brochs, or 'Pictish towers,' and the underground stone houses called weems, or 'Picts' houses,' however, both predate this kingdom."
The practice of tatooing among the Indo-Europeans can be traced back to the Scythians, and this practice was found also among the Tocharian graves. Archeologists have commented on how the Tocharian fabrics matched Scottish tartans, and a similar relationship exists with some Baltic groups. Archeology, it seems, is confirming the traditions and ancient reports of the Celtic peoples. For the Celtic tradition, according to Jean Markale, The Celts, Uncovering the Mythic and Historic Origins of Western Culture, Inner Traditions International, Rochester Vermont, 1993, recounts emmigration to the British Isles from the Baltic lowlands. Markale opens his argument with the early Celtic myths of a flood and traces the mythology to the raising of the sea-level along the Baltic states. A later invasion of refugees from the Baltic states, invading the Celtic (British) Isles, was that of the Angles and the Saxons, and following them from Normandy were the Normans of William the Conqueror.
When the British Isles were being invaded, displaced populations sought refuge in Wales and then crossed the English Channel to Brittany (Amorica). The beginning of this immigration to Brittany was with the first Roman invasions of Gaul. The Gauls (Celts) of France maintained close links with the British Celts, particularly through trade, and Brittany became a last place of refuge for the Welsh. Thus, we can see the Welsh language being represented in Brittany as "Breton," and Brittany becoming another place of refuge for the vestiges of the Celtic language.
From an over-view the Celtic language is related to Latin and Etruscan, and it reflects a position solidly positioned in the "green" zone of Table 1, but interfacing more with the "blue" zone than Latin or Etruscan. This relationship bears more significance when we take into consideration what we know about the Celts, from the ancient historians and Celtic mythology and culture. When we add data from the Tocharians to the map the more eastern bias of the Celtic language to that of Etruscan becomes significant. We know that the Etruscans were in Italy about 1,000 B.C., and that is about the time of early Celtic emmigration from the Baltic states to the British Isles. And this movement of the Celts may have been a continuing expansion of several hundered years up the Danube river from the Crimea or Black Sea area in general. This brings us back to the Trojan war about 1180 B.C. and the break-up of the Hittite empire — one of the earliest Indo-European peoples — in Anatolia about the same time. About 900-800 B.C. the Scythians roamed Central Asia from slightly east of the Altai Mountains in Inner Mongolai to the Black Sea region. After they arrived in the Crimea they drove the Cimmerians out of that region. Cimmerians assaulted Urartu (Armenia) about 714 B.C. and were repulsed in 705 B.C. by Sargon II of Assyria. Being turned aside by Sargon II, about 695 B.C. the Cimmerians conquered Phrygia, taking Sardis, the Lydian capital, in 652 B.C. Alyattes of Lydia threw them out about 626 B.C., after which the Cimmerians ceased to be heard from again. A group of them may have settled in the center of Anatolia, Cappadoica, but Celtic mythology also suggests that they may have ended up along the Baltic coast, as the Cymry. The Baltic coast, by the way, was a source of amber, the precious tears of the gods that was treasured from the Mycennean age to this day.
It is believed that the Celts "spread over much of Europe between the second and first centuries B.C. Their tribes and groups eventually ranged from the British Isles and northern Spain to as far east as Transylvania, the Black Sea coasts, and Galatia in Anatolia and were in part absorbed into the Roman Empire as Britons, Gauls, Boii, Galatians, and Celtiberians. Linguistically they survive in the modern Celtic speakers of Ireland, Highland Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, and Brittany" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). The oldest archeological evidence of the Celts comes from Hallstat, Austria. "..more than 2,000 graves were found at Hallstatt. The majority fall into two groups, an earlier (c. 1100/1000 to c. 800/700 BC) and a later (c. 800/700 to 450 BC). Near the cemetery was a prehistoric salt mine; because of the preservative nature of the salt, implements, parts of clothing, and even the bodies of the miners themselves have been discovered" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). This culture reflects the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age culture of central and western Europe. Its earliest phase, A, shows Villanovan influence. Villanova is a site near Bologna, Italy. "The Villanovan people branched from the cremating Urnfield cultures of eastern Europe and appeared in Italy in the 10th or 9th century BC. The earliest burial rites were usually with cremation; the ashes of the dead were placed in a decorated pottery ossuary of a biconical, or two-storied, form and covered with a bowl. The lid of the urn was sometimes a pottery imitation of a helmet, either the knobbed bell helmet of eastern central Europe or the crested helmet of northern Europe, theVillanovan helmet par excellence.
"The Villanovans living in Tuscany also used the terra-cotta hut urn, which imitated a hut of wattle and daub on a frame of poles. The hut urn is characteristic of northern European urn fields, whereas the two-storied urn may be related to similar urns from Hungary and Romania.
"The Villanovans controlled the rich copper and iron mines of Tuscany and were accomplished metalworkers. In the second half of the 8th century the Villanovans of Tuscany were influenced artistically by Greece; also, inhumation became the predominant burial rite, as it did during the same period in Greece." (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
The Villanovans went through an Orientalizing phase (which prompted scholars to speculate that the Etruscans, who sprouted from the Villanovan culture, have an oriental origin, from Anatolia or further east. According to Massimo Pallottino,
"During the more evolved phase of the Villanovan culture notable changes began to appear which anticipate the splendour of the subsequent Orientalizing phase: there was the spread of inhumation and the appearance of the first chamber tombs, the use of iron became more general, and decorated motifs (scarabs and amulets of Egyptian type, Greek painted pottery and its imitations, etc.). The passage from Villanovan to Orientalizing was therefore neither radical nor sudden. Many aspects of the Orientalizing phase (the great architectural or pseudo-architectural tombs themselves, black bucchero pottery, ornaments and jewellery) were well within the scope of indigenous culture, though they might well have been stimulated by external influence, both eastern and Greek, and especially by economic prosperity. Individual objects and motifs were imported from Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, Rhodes and from Greece in general; others came from even more distant lands, Mesopotamia or Armenia (Urartu). A characteristic type of decoration mingled Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Syrian, Aegean and near Eastern motifs, at times in hybrid compositions; another took over friezes composed of real and fantastic animals as found in luxury articles of Cypro-Phoenician origin, but re-worked and spread mainly by the Greeks themselves in the course of the seventhy century B.C. The main impression gained when considering Etruscan tombs of the Orientalizing period and their sumptuous contents is that the essential forms of the culture they represent had their roots in a local tradition, whereas the spirit and outward appearance of the decorative elements were acquired and may be attributed to eastern 'fashion.' If we ignore for the moment the composite character — indigenous and exotic — of Etruscan Orientalizing, and examine only its imported elements, it becomes clear that they are not confined to Etruria, but are more or less present in many other Mediterranean lands, beginning with Greece itself, where no Tyrrhenian immigration could possibly be suspected.
"After the Orientalizing phase of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., Etruria received a large measure of cultural and artistic influences from the Greek world (Ionia at first, and later Attica). A much more decisive alteration of the old indigenoius culture took place under this influx: it even affected religion and everyday life, as is clearly shown by the Greek gods and myths that penetrated Etruria...Nor was there a sudden change in burial rite from cremation, typical of the Villanovan period, to Orientalizing inhumation. In southern Etruria, the earliest Villanovan stages already produced a mixture of trench (fossa) graves and cremations in well (pozzo) graves. Inhumation gradually established itself during the later Villanovan phases, and this phenomenon took place during the eighth century not only in Etruria but in Latium too, where no Etruscan 'arrival' has been postulated. In addition, it appears to be limited entirely to southern Etruria, while the regions of the interior (e.g. Chiusi) preserved the prevailing rite of cremation during Orientalizing times and for all the successive phase of Etruscan civilization" (The Etruscans, Massimo Pallottino, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 71,72; first published as Etruscologia by Ulrico Hoepli, Milan, 1942).
At the eastern end of Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland a site was excavated which represents the Late Iron Age culture of European Celts, called La Tène. Its earliest phase dates from about 450-390 B.C. and is marked by influence from Greco-Etruscan imports. The early Celts in Europe can be thus located as traders between the Greek and Etruscan civilizations, which were dominant at that time, and Europe to the north of them. If we compare this archeological evidence to the first recorded history of the Cimbri (Cymbry):
"The Cimbri make their first appearance in recorded history around the year 113 B.C. for it was then, according to Greek and Roman historians, that a disastrous tidal wave forced them to leave their home in Cimbrica Chersonesus (the Jutland peninsula) and hasten southwards with their women and children to make new settlements.
"They went first towards the Danube where they encountered the Boii who had settled in Bohemia. 'The Boii, who once dommanded the Hercynian forest, were attacked by the Cimbri but drove them back.' (Strabo, VII, 2.2) Thrown back on the volcae who promptly drove them into the land of the Taurisci, they travelled on into Pannonia 'an the land of the Scordisci, a tribe of Galatian or Gallic origin and then to the land of the Tauristi or Taurisci, another Gallic tribe.' (ibid.] Encountering fierce opposition in that area, the Cimbri were forced back into Noricum and made their way as far as Noreia.
As allies of the Taurisci, the Romans demanded that the Cimbri leave the region, whereupon the Cimbri opened negotiations with the consul Papirius Carbo and asked to be granted land. These talks were rudely interrupted by the Romans whose demand the Cimbri ignored. The Cimbri then continued their way westward and finally settled in the region of the Main where they were joined by the Teutons, the tribe with which their name has been coupled ever since" (The Celts, pp. 37-38).
In the Etruscan scripts the word, 8VIA, Script Q278, may be a reference to the Boii. The suffix, "ia," tends to reflect proper names in Etruscan, as in Helen of Troy's name, Elinai in the Divine_Mirror.html (See Etruscan GlossaryA.xls and Etruscan Grammar.xls). In the Tomb of Orcos is the name of Phersipnei (Persephone), showing a shift in the suffix from "ai" to "ei."
Table 1, of course, has a lot a work ahead of it before it can really show the true relationship of these peoples to one another, where they were located in their steppe home-land. If we introduce the Scythians into the mix, about 1,200-900 B.C., moving west from Inner Mongolia, which is when there was a climatic change causing the flooding on the Baltic coast, for example, and probably droughts in other places, we may be able to explain the movement of the groups occupying the same grass-lands as being initiated by climate change.
An unusual example of climate change ~1,200 B.C. is recorded in the Mt. Bego and Valcamonica rock carvings in the Alps. A site describing these rock carvings is at http://rupestre.net/alps/bego.html. Mt. Bego occupies a higher elevation and consists of rock engravings of warriors, plowing scenes and lots of swords, all dating from the late Neolithic to the Bronze Age. The lower altitude Valcamonica rock engravings date from the iron age, and it is speculated that the cessation of rock engravings at Mt. Bego by the time of the Iron Age is due to the fact that the climate got colder. Today both regions are covered by snow and ice from October-November to June, and the engravings, now in national parks, may be viewed in the summer. The cessation of engravings on Mt. Bego would be explained by the fact that the ice field failed to melt at the end of the Bronze Age and early Iron Age. This colder climate correlates to drought-like conditions. Droughts cause people to seek better pastures. When people move they can displace other peoples in their path. When people move they migrate rather quickly.
The most recent people to have moved across the steppes from the east are the non-Indo-European Huns or Magyars and before them the nomadic Turks, whose capital was in Mongolia. Before them came the Mongols under Ghengis Khan.
The early Indo-Europeans moved quite quickly from Asia to Europe, and we can measure how quickly they could have moved by the examples of the invasion of the Mongols.
Ghengis assumed the title of khan in 1206 A.D., and by 1223 his armies had spread from Mongolia over the Caucaus mountains. In 1258 Ghengis' brother, Hülegü, occupied Baghdad; Kiev fell in the winter of 1236-37 and Hungary was invaded in 1241-42, and the Golden Horde during the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries controlled everything from the Ob river in Siberia to Moldavia, Hungary, including the Crimea, and its southern extremity from the southern reaches of the Caspian Sea (opposite the Iron Gates) to Lake Balkhash. This was the western half of the Mongol empire. The other, eastern, reached from the Il-Khanid Empire covering Iran and Iraq to Mongolia. These people moved on wagons bringing their families with them, as the Mongols do to this day. And they covered the lands from Mongolia to Kiev and Bagdhad in about 50 years. We can use this to view how the Celts moved about, since they also took their entire tribe in wagons from one place to another in Europe.
In their engagements with each other and the Romans the various tribes of the Celts had their wagons, with all their families, criss-crossing Europe – like the early American pioneers heading west in their wagon trains from St. Louis, Missouri. The Celts sacked Rome and they occupied the sanctuary of Apollo, whom they worshipped as their sun god, in Delphi. And just as one can read in the Illiad, how the great warriors each went into battle with his own horse-teamed-chariot, so too was it a tradition for the Welsh and other Celts.
Unlike the other hordes, the Celts moved also by sea (a necessity, it seems, to get to the British Isles). This also seems to be a characteristic of the Greeks (we have the story of the Argonauts, the companion work to the Illiad) and the Etruscans. About 1,200 B.C. many people began raiding and plundering settlements along the Mediterranean littoral. These were recorded by the Egyptian pharoah Ramesses, and included among them were Danuna (Greeks), Lukka (Lycians), Teresh (Tyrrhenians / Etruscans), Siceloi (Sicilians), Shardana (Sardinians) and Pulusti (Philistines). A site that describes the Sea Peoples is at http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/sea_peoples.htm.
Behind the tracks of the Sea Peoples we find barrows. The archeology of the barrows reflects them mainly along the coast, facing the sea. This is true of those (called dolmens) in southern Russia along the Black Sea, all facing the sea, the Illyrian and Thracian barrows which face the sea, and the Iberian and British barrows that occupy a precious vista at the head of a valley or on a headland overlooking the sea. While their heritage may have been rooted in the steppes, where their barrows (called kurgans) would be used as special landmarks, the Indo-Europeans that took to the sea, put their barrows facing the sea (where possible). But then they had centers, such as Tara in the center of Ireland, where barrows of knights and kings and queens were centered. Similar centers for barrows can be seen in the Russian steppes and in various places in Europe.
The Celts venerated the barrows as a place of the Netherworld. They readily — outrageously — gave up their lives believing that there is an after-life, where they would dwell in the sidh. The Etruscan tombs are similar abodes of the dead, and there may be a similar morbidity in their view of death to that of the Celts. A Welsh tradition expressed the idea that if one were to lower a small child through a hole in a dolman, it would lead to good-fortune for the child. It so happens that dolmans along the coast of the Black Sea in Southern Russia (see www.admiral.ru) have the same holes in the front, often accompanied with a stone carved in the shape of a plug to fit in the hole. Since dolmons were used as family tombs, used over and over, and some re-occupied a few centuries later, it follows that entry into the tomb would have some ritual significance. In the modern world we carry on a similar ritual with regard to the burial of our leaders, with great ceremony and pomp, a period of mourning, and the placement of the leader beside other great leaders in a hallowed tomb. There is a communion with the dead hero that we experience, and this communion may describe how the ancient Celts, Cimmerians, Scythians and Etruscans related to their dead and their tombs, and why so many tombs exist. Westminster Abbey, for instance, is a center for the repose of modern British heroes and royalty. How we view it and continue its tradition. It may very well be no different than how the ancient Celts viewed Tara or Stonehenge — or how the Etruscans viewed the cities of their dead — or how Achilles viewed his fallen comrade, Patroclüs, in the closing chapters of the Illiad.
Table 1 was conceived as a means to map my findings on the Etruscan language with regard to other Indo-European languages. It has become a tool with which to explore more than I anticipated. I did believe that if the Etruscan myths were true their language would be a key to understanding the languages of the ancient Lydians and Phrygians – and Trojans as well. I have always been curious as to the language Achilles may have used against Hector, the Trojan prince, as he chased Hector around the walls of Troy. We know the language represented by the Mycenaean Greeks about 1,200 B.C. was ancient Greek. We don't know what language the Trojans spoke; nevertheless, the Mycenaean and Trojans spoke to each other. At the end of the Illiad, for instance, King Priam appears in the hut of Achilles to claim the body of his son, Hector. Both kings and their entourage spoke without need for an interpreter. Homer goes out of his way, in fact, to point out how the many nations that are allied with Troy are made up of different language groups. At least one nation, the Carrians, from the southeaster coast of Turkey, Cilicia, is described as "being of barbarian toungue."
In Homer the story of the Argonauts and Ovid's Metamorphosis, the people involved in the Trojan War practiced cremation, as a rule, the raising of burial mounds which could often be used as landmarks and places for look-out stations (towers) and the holding of games around the mound after the burial. It is also noted in the Illiad, with regard to the raising of the barrow of Patroclüs, that a turning post around which the chariot racers would turn was a "boundary" which is called "menhir" today. Also, in the raising of the barrow of Patroclüs the bard describes exactly what we find in other European barrows: a stone circle marking the perimeter of the tomb, that would hold in the dirt, the placement of stones to form the barrow, and the sacrifices, such as a bull, placed on the edge of the barrow.
The burial of Patroclüs is the oldest description that we have of an Indo-European mound burial. So it is worth repeating (1):
Illiad, book XXIII While the Trojans were mouring within their city, the Achaians made their way to the ships beside the Hellespont. Most of them dispersed to their own vessels, but Achilles would not let the Myrmidons disperse until he had addressed them in these words:
"Your horses have done good service today, my brave comrades; but we must not unyoke them yet. Let us go, horses and chariots and all, to mourn for Patrolcüs, for that is the honour due to the dead. When we have consoled ourselves with lamentation, let us unharness them and take our meal."
Then he led the cavalcade three times round the body, all mourning and crying aloud; and Thetis lamented with them. The sands were drenched with their tears, their armour was drenched, so much their hearts longed for that mighty man. And Peleidês led their lamentations, as he laid his manslaying hands on his true friends' breast:
"Fare thee well, Patroclüs, even in the house of death! See now I am fulfilling all that I promised! I said I would drag Hector to this place and give him to the dogs to devour raw; and in front of your pyre I would cut the throats of twelve noble sons of the Trojans, in payment for your death."
Then he did a vile outrage to royal Hector: he stretched the body on its face in the dirt beside the bier of Menoitiadês.
After that all took off their armour, and unharnessed the loud-whinnying horses, and sat down beside the ship of Achilles in their thousands. There he provided a fine funeral feast. Many bellowing bulls fell under the knife, many sheep and bleating goats; many tusker boars bursting with fat were stretched out to singe over the fire. Around the dead body the blood of the victims poured out in cupfuls was running all over the ground.
Meanwhile Prince Peleion [Achilles] was being led by the Achaian chieftains to Agamemnon. They had trouble to persude him so deep was his sorrow for his comrade. At the King's headquarters orders were given to set a cauldron of water over the fire, that his body might be washed clean of the bloodstains, but he flatly refused and swore to it:
"No, by Zeus highest and greatest of gods! It is not lawful that water may come near my head, before I lay Patroclüs on the fire and build him a borrow and cut off my hair! For no second sorrow like this shall come upon me so long as I am among the living. Yet for this present we must consent to the meal which we hate. Then tomorrow, my lord King Agamemnon, shall be for bringing firewood and providing all that is proper to send the dead down into the dark. The fire shall burn him quickly out of sight, and the people shall return to their work."
They did accordingly: the meal was prepared, and all partook and found no lack. When they were statisfied, the others retired tor est; but Peleidês lay with many of his Myrmidons, in the open air on the shore of the sounding sea, while the waves washed on the beach, lay groaning heavily until sleep fell upon him: a deep sweat sleep that soothed the sorrows of his heart, for his strong limbs were weary with that long pursuit after Hector about the city of Ilios.
In sleep came to him the soul of unhappy Patroclüs, his very image in stature and wearing clothes like his, with his voice and those lovely eyes. The vision stood by his head and spoke:
"You sleep, Achilles, and you have forgotten me! When I lived you were not careless of me, but now that I am dead! Bury me without delay, that I may pass the gates of hades. Those phantoms hold me off, the souls of those whose work is done; they will not suffer me to join them beyond the river, but I wander aimlessly about the broad gates of the house of Hades. And give me that hand, I pray; for never again shall I come back from Hades when once you have given me my portion of fire. Nevewr again in life shall we go apart from our companions and take counsel together; but I am swallowed up already by that cruel fate which got me on the day I was born; and you also have your position, my magnificent Achilles, to perish before the walls of this great city. One thing more I say, and I will put it upon you as a chargeif you will comply: do not lay my bones apart from yours, Achilles, but with them, as I was brought up with you in your home, when Menoitios brought me quitge a little one from Opoeis to your house, for manslaughter, the day when I killed Amphidamas' son – I did not mean it, we had a silly quarrel over the knuckle-bones. Then Peleus received me, and brought me up kindly in his house, and name me as your attendant. Then let one urn cover my bones with yours, that golden two-handled urn which your gracious mother gave you."
Achilles said in answer:
"Why have you come here, beloved one, with all these charges of this and taht? Of course I will do as you tell me every bit. But come nearer; for one short moment let us lay our arms about each other and console ourselves with lamentation!"
He stretched out his arms as he spoke, but he could not touch, for the soul was gone like smoke into the earth, twittering. Achilles leapt up in amazement and clapped his hands with solemn words:
"See there now! So there is still something in the house of Hades, a soul and a phantom but no real life in it at all! For all night long the soul of unhappy Patroclüs has been by my side, sorrowing and lamenting and telling me what to do. And it was mightily like himself!"
All around were moved to lamentation when they heard his words. They were still mouring when Dawn showed her fingers of light. Then King Agamemnon sent out mules and men from the whole camp to bring firewood, under the charge of Idomeneus's man Merionês...Down on the shore they laid their logs in order, in the place where Achilles designed a great barrow for Patroclüs and himself.
When the logs were laid in their places, the men sat where they were, all together. Then Achilles ordered his Myrmidons to don their armour and harness their horses; they mounted the cars, both fighting men and drives, chariots in front, a cloud of footmen behind, thousands, and in the midst was Patroclüs borne by his comrades. They had cut off their hair and thrown it over the body like a shroud. Achilles came behind him clasping the head; his own unspotted comrade he was escorting to the grave.
At the place where Achilles had appointed, they laid him down and piled great heaps of firewood. Then Achilles did his part. He stood away from the pile, and cut off the golden tress which he had kept uncut among his thick hair for the river Spercheios, and spoke deeply moved as he gazed over the dark sea:
"O Spercheios! This is not for thee! That vow was vain which Peleus my father made, that when I returned to my native land I would consecrate my hair to thee, and make solemn sacrifice, and that he would sacrifice fifty rams without blemish into thy waters, at the altar which is in thy precinct at the same place. That was my father's vow, but thou didst not fulfil his hope. Now, therefore, since I am not to return to my native land, I would give the warrior Patroclüs this to carry with him:
The he laid the hair in the hands of his well-beloved companion. All present broke into lamentation with all their hearts; and they would not have ceased while the sun shone, but Achilles drew near Agamemnon and said to him:
"Atreidês, you are our lord paramount, and it is yours to command. There is plenty of time for the people to mourn, but just now I ask you to dismiss them from this place and tell them to get ready for their meal. All this is the business of those who are nearest akin to the dead; and let the chieftains remain with us.
Agamemnon accordingly dismissed the people, while the mourners remained and piled up the wood, and made a pyre of a hundred feet each way, and upon it they laid the body. They killed flocks of sheep and herds of cattle in front of the pyre, skinned them and cut them up; Achilles took away all the fat, and covered the dead with it from head to foot, and heaped the flayed bodies about him. Jars of honey and oil he placed leaning against the bier. Four horses he laid carefully on the pyre, groaning aloud. Nine dogs the prince had, that fed from his table; two of these Achilles took, and cut their throats and laid beside him. The twelve noble young Trojans he slew without mercy. Then he applied the relentless fire to consume all, and with a groan he called on his comrades name:
"Fare thee well Patroclüs, even in the grave fare thee well! See, I now fulfil all that I promised you before. Here are the twelve noble sons of Trojans — the fire is eating them round about you! Hector Priamidês the fire shall not have to eat, but the dogs!"
But his threat was vain: no dogs were busy about Hector, for the dogs were driven off by the daughter of Zeus, Aphrodite herself, by day and by night. She washed the skin with rose-oil of ambrosia that it might not be torn by the dragging; and Phoibos Apollo drew down a dark cloud from heaven to earth, and covered the place where the body lay, that the sun might not scorch the flesh too soon over the sinews of his limbs.
But the pyre would not burn, and Achilles did not know what to do. At last he stood well away from the smouldering heap, and prayed to North Wind and West Wind promising them good sacrifices; many a libation he poured from his golden goblet, praying them to come and make the wood quickly catch fire, to burn the bodies. (2)
Iris heard his prayers, and flew quickly to the Winds with her message.
They were all in a party at West Wind's, and having a fine feast, when in came Iris flying and stood on the doorstone. As soon as they set eyes on her, up they all jumped and shouted out, every wind of them, "Come and sit by me!" But she said:
"No thank you, no sitting: I'm bound for the Ocean stream. There is a grand sacrifice in the Ethiopian country for us immortals, and I want to have some too. But Achilles is praying to North Wind and West Wind; he wants them to come and promises a good sacrifice. He wants them to make the pyre burn, where Patorclüs lies with the people all mouring around."
Her message given, away she flew, and the Winds rose with a devil of a noise and drove the clouds in a riot before them. They swooped upon the sea and raised the billows under their whisling blasts; they reached the Trojan coast and fell on the pyre till the flames roared again. All night long they beat upon the fire together blowing and whistling; all night long stood Achilles holding his goblet, and dipt into the golden mixer, and poured the wine on the ground, till the place was soaked, calling upon the soul of unhappy Patroclüs. As a father laments while he burns the bones of his own son, newly wedded and now dead, to the grief of his bereaved parents, so Achilles lamented as he burnt the bones of Patroclüs, stumbling up and down beside the pyre with sobbings and groanings.
But at the time when the morning star goes forth to tell that light is coming over the earth, and after him the saffron mantle of Dawn spreads over the sea, at that hour the flame died down and the burning faded away. Then the Winds returned over the Thracian gulf to their home, while the waters rose and roared.
And then Achilles moved away from the pyre, and sank upon the ground tired out: sleep leapt upon him and gave him peace.
Now the people were all gathering round Agamemnon. They made such noise and uproar that Achilles sat up and said:
"Atreidês, and you other princes, yhou must first quench the pyre with wine wherever the flames have touched. Then let us gather the bones of Patroclüs Menoitidês, and be careful to find the right ones. They are easy to know, for he lay right in the middle and the others were on the edge, horses and men together. His bones we must wrap in a double layer of fat and lay them in a golden urn, until I myself shall be hidden in Hades. But I do not wish any great mound to be raised for him, only just a decent one. Afterwards another can be raised both broad and high, by those of you who are left behind me."
They did his bidding at once. First they quenched the pyre with wine wherever it had burt and the ashes were deep; then weeping they gathered the bones of their gentle campanion, and laid them covered with fat in a golden urn, which they wrapt up in fine linen and put away safely in the hut. Round the pyre they set up a circle of stone slabs to mark the outside limit, and shovelled earth within. (3)
We are studying not only the reports of cultures that spread megalithic monuments from east to west and west to east, but also their writings and grave goods. Barrows like those of Patroclüs have been found from Siberia to Ireland, from southern India to Spain. Interestingly the Tocharians of Siberia were red-headed and buried a queen in a hollowed out tree in a grave lined with timbers in a tumulus (barrow), around which were other tumuli. A similar field of tumuli can be seen in Ireland and points in-between. It is the prevailing theory that all of these peoples spoke a common language called PIE.
The Megalithic People are remembered as people who were giants (because of their cyclopean constructions). What is interesting about the tales of some of these megalithic sites, as recorded on the Stonepages site, http://www.stonepages.com, and others, is that there are reports that the stone or stones go down to the lake or river and bathe in the evening, or they spin around or, if one passes by them at a specific time of the evening at a specific time (like Halloween or December 21), a person can die, go crazy or turn into a poet. The ancient myths, such as you see recorded by Ovid in Metamorphosis, recount how men and women and gods and goddesses changed into animals, trees and stones. Even rocks had life, such as the clanging rocks guarding the Hellespont through which Jason and others had to navigate. As a ship would be passing between them, suddenly the rocks would close together, crushing the ship and all of its passengers. The Illiad's details on the barrows and traditions of the Trojans and Greeks also refers to the stones as having life to them. One group of stones mentioned in the Illiad involves a council of the elders who sat upon "polished stones."
Easter Aquhorthies recumbent stone circle, from Aberdeenshire.gov.uk. Recumbent stone circles are most abundant in northeastern Scotland and may be remembering a tradition involving courts as illustrated in the Iliad and Njal's Saga.
Illiad, Book VII: "Hear me speak, Trojans and Achaians both, and let me tell you what is in my mind. Cronidês throned on high would not let us keep our sworn treaty; but he ordains a hard struggle for us all, until either you shall take the castle of Troy, or you shall be vanquished yourselves beside your own ships. Here among you if any one of you has a mind to fight with me, let him come forth, and be your champion against Hector.
"Here is what I propose, and let Zeus be witness on both parts: if that man shall strike me down, let him strip me and take my armour for his spoil; but my body he shall give back to be carried home, that my people may give me dead my portion of fire. But if Apollo grant me success, and I strike him down, I will strip off his armour and take it into sacred Troy, and hang it before the temple of Apollo Shootafar; but the body I will give back, that his friends may carry it to their camp, to give him funeral and build him a barrow beside the broad Hellespont. Then men will say in far distant generations to come, as they sail along the shore, 'Yonder is the barrow of a man dead long ago, a champion whom famous Hector slew.' So my fame will never be forgotten."
Etruscan Glossary with link to Excel spreadsheet Etruscan GlossaryA.xls.
Etruscan Grammar with link to Excel spreadsheet Etruscan Grammar.xls.
To view the Etruscan alphabet as used in these scripts click here, Lemnos Script.html
To the Vocabulary words > L, (no longer current; see Grammar and Glossary) which laid the foundation for Table 1.
To Vocabulary words L> (no longer current; see Grammar and Glossary)
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