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A team of researchers from the University of Florence, discovered an Etruscan temple on Monte Giovi, the mountain of Jupiter, at whose summit almost a thousand meters above sea level, the Etruscans studied lightning to interpret the will of the gods and predict the future, reported La Stampa.
Still today we know very little about the Etruscan religion and about this particular temple, one of the few sacred places in Etruria that has survived to this day, taking six years of work to find it.
The site is located on a plateau in the mountain range that separates Mugello from the Florence plain, on the Etruscan city of Fiesole. Aerial photographs had already revealed the presence of a rectangular embankment at the top, and in the 1970s "three small iron and bronze arrowheads were found in the area," explained the archaeologist who leads the project Luca Cappuccini.
The new excavations have brought to light three different layers of occupations in different periods. In the oldest there is a small structure with a paved area around it where a lituus was found (lituo) on the ground, an iron instrument used by priests to establish the boundaries of a sacred area.
This is one of the oldest in the world and one of the few discovered in a temple, since most of these objects have been found in the tombs of the priests.
«The lithium was broken and buried in the ground in the middle of the paved area. For this reason we suppose that this place was an «auguraculum», a heavenly temple, a place used to interpret the will of the gods«, Assured Cappuccini.
The religion of the Etruscans
«The Etruscans divided the sky into 16 parts, each one corresponding to a different divinity. For this reason it was important for the Etruscans to observe natural phenomena such as lightning, ”he explained.
It is very likely that the temple was dedicated to Tinia, the Etruscan version of Jupiter and Zeus. He was not the only divinity who threw his "arrows", lightning bolts, towards men, but he was the most important and probably also gave his name to the mountain called "di Giove" by the Romans.
The discovery does not solve many mysteries that still surround the religion of the Etruscans and what we know about them is thanks to the Latin texts. The rays were most likely studied with respect to their shape, position and color, but we do not know what meaning each of these characteristics had.
The results of the investigation, which began with the excavations in 2010, have been published in a book entitled ‘Monte Giovi. «Fulmini e saette»: gives rise to worship of the fortress of the height in the Etruscan territory of Fiesole‘.
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