ABC Wednesdays is brought to you by Mrs. Nesbitt.
When I was teaching 4th grade, part of the Bible curriculum was about the history of written language dating back to Egyptian times. I learned a lot by teaching it and had a lot of fun with the kids using pictographs and hieroglyphics.
Then when I was in Italy in the fall of 2006, I visited a town named Orvieto, built on top of a mountain made of volcanic rock, on the border between Tuscany and Umbria. It has a fantastic Etruscan history. (see notes below) We visited the necropolis at the base of the mountain and there I found original hieroglyphics scratched into the openings of graves. A fascinating revelation to me, it brought to life what I'd been teaching children for many years.
From the necropolis looking up towards the city of Orvieto.
The entrance to a grave.
Hieroglyphgics scratched at the entrance to a grave.
The inside of a grave.
For those who are interested in learning more, feel free to read the following:
The Etruscan alphabet developed from a Western variety of the Greek alphabet brought to Italy by Euboean Greeks. The earliest known inscription dates from the middle of the 6th century BC. Most Etruscan inscriptions are written in horizontal lines from right to left, but some are boustrophedon (running alternately left to right then right to left).
More than 10,000 Etruscan inscriptions have been found on tombstones, vases, statues, mirrors and jewellery. Fragments of an Etruscan book made of linen have also been found. Etruscan texts can be read: i.e. the pronunciation of the letters is known, though scholars are not sure what all the words mean.
No major literary works in Etruscan have survived, however there is evidence for the existence of religious and historical literature and drama. It is also possible that the Etruscans had a notation system for music.
The Etruscan language was spoken by the Etruscans in Etruria (Tuscany and Umbria) until about the 1st century AD, after which it continued to be studied by priests and scholars. The emperor Claudius (10 BC - 54 AD) wrote a history of the Etruscans in 20 volumes, none of which have survived, based on sources still preserved in his day. The language was used in religious ceremonies until the early 5th century.
Etruscan was related to Raetic, a language once spoken in the Alps, and also to Lemnian, once spoken on the island of Lemnos. It was also possibly related to Camunic, a language once spoken in the northwest of Italy.