ERobert52 at ERobert52 at
Fri Feb 5 23:24:38 UTC 1999

JoatSimeon at writes:

> [MCV]

>>Etruscan was spoken in Greece and Western Anatolia before 1200 BC, closer to
>>Semitic than IE.

> -- this is, to say the least, not generally accepted.

One does not have to believe Herodotus' story that the Etruscans originated
in Lydia. Nor is there any reason for associating them with Troy other than a
vague (chance?) similarity of the name.

However, the Etruscans, or their ancestors, are associated with the area, in
particular with the island of Lemnos, and anybody who says they aren't
indigenous to the area (e.g. Mallory) has to account for the following:

Etruscan and Lemnian are closely related (I think it is safe to say this is
generally accepted), so Etruscoid peoples had a presence in the area at
the time of the main Lemnos inscription (6th century BC?). But, Etruscan
and Lemnian are not the same language (also not a controversial point of
view), so we are not talking about a temporary trading post because they
would more likely have used proper 6th century BC Etruscan and written in
the correct alphabet. There is no reason to think it is some wandering
artefact gone astray like the 'Zagreb' mummy because there are also fragments
of pottery that may confirm Lemnian as a local language. (Or at least Larissa
Bonfante thinks so; Massimo Pallottino thinks the fragments are not helpful

The degree of similarity between Etruscan and Lemnian is of the order one
would expect for languages with a common ancestor several hundred years
previously, e.g. 1200 BC. That one of its daughter languages should arrive or
develop in one relatively small island in the middle of the northern Aegean
without having or having had a presence elsewhere in the vicinity is unlikely.

This does not of course mean that the Proto-Tyrrhenian homeland can be
located here with any confidence (insofar as 'homeland' is a useful notion in
times of much sparser populations than today). Nor does it say anything about
any remote relationship that might exist with IE or Indo-Anatolian or anything

Secondly, that apart, the Etruscans were in close touch with Semitic speakers
anyway as the Pyrgi tablets prove.

Ed. Robertson

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