X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Fri Mar 16 05:41:42 UTC 2001

In a message dated 3/15/2001 3:01:29 AM, acnasvers at writes:
<< In the USA it isn't hard to find folks who insist they are descended from
their Sunday-school heroes, seizing on the flimsiest superficialities to
establish their own membership in the fabled Lost Tribes. >>

I'd double-check this one.  One does not hear an awful lot about personal
genealogical descent from the Lost Tribes, except maybe for late at night at
certain Irish-American taverns on the westside of Manhattan.  And even there,
the debate usually deal with more productive questions, like whether those
Tribes were actually Lost or merely Misplaced.  My guess is that outside the
state of Utah and among members of the Mormon faith, the overwhelmingly vast
majority of Americans do not even know who the Lost Tribes were.

As far as Etruscan origins go, certain things might be worth mentioning:

- There is (as far as I know) no evidence of anything but Villanovian
settlements in Etruscan regions before somewhere around 800BC.  The first
clear evidence of a foreign presence afterward is Greek.  But when
identifiably Etruscan settlements emerge they have some features that do not
seem Villanovian or Greek at all.  These features are however identifiable
with other locations around the Mediterranean.

- Many elements of the so-called "orientalizing" of later Etruscan culture
feature things emphatically not Greek or Early Roman, such as bucherro
pottery, which clearly establish some kind of ties with Asia Minor.  There
are other elements that suggest ties with Crete or the southern Mediterranean
coast.  These elements are not peripheral to Etruscan culture.  Their
eastern, non-Greek character had a pronounced effect on scholars from the
earliest finds and they are still plain to see in Etruscan artifact

- What is odd about the Etruscan settlement on Lemnos is not the stele.  What
is odd is that it is on Lemnos, without an apparent serious stronghold
structure, dangerously in the very teeth of a very Greek sea.  I have seen
different earliest dates for the settlement itself.  (And how early this
settlement would be scientifically dated would make a difference.)

I understand that there were over a hundred cremation burials in the
necropolis, including men and women.  The women's graves contain early
bucherro pottery and the male graves contain weapons, including
characteristically Cretan axes and daggers.

What the stele tells us is the settlement appears to have had a strong
Etruscan connection.  It does not tell us why these settlers were there.
Even as a trading colony, it is a fish out of water.  The strong implication
is I think some kind of a license or patronage allowed the settlement to be
there.  One wonders if the coming of the Persians had something to do with

- Putting aside the question of who the Etruscans were for a moment, the
Etruscan language appears to the have been strongly centered in Italy from
all the evidence we have.

If it came from foreign parts, it could have come with very few carriers, but
it would have had to provide indigenous people a very good economic or social
reason to adopt it.

If it represented a large migration, we would like to see evidence of the
language elsewhere, other than in a small colony in a sea of Greeks.

On the other hand, if it was a local language adopted by immigrants from Asia
Minor and points east and south - or even Greeks - we might see the very same
footprint as in the cases above.

The origin of the Etruscan language may not tell us where some or many of the
people we know as Etruscans came from.

-  The adoption of the Greek alphabet seems to be a thing somewhat taken for
granted in all this.  But what were the mechanics of this process? How much
bi-lingualism do you need to even understand the concept?  How do we envision
converting a whole "people" without an alphabet to writing (and reading)
using the Greek method?  Would it help if many of them at first also spoke
and wrote Greek?

Steve Long

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