Richard Francis Burton.

Etruscan Bologna: a study online

. (page 10 of 14)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonEtruscan Bologna: a study → online text (page 10 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

their resemblance with the ' massive and grandiose
Roman calvaria! The chief points of similarity are
the semicircular lines of the temples ; the harmony of
the zygomatic arches, and the pronounced angular
sinus between the nose and the frontal bone ; the
great development of the superciliary arches ; the
square, horizontal orbits ; the posterior position of
the auditory meatus ; the greater bi-parietal
diameter ; the heavy mandible ; and, finally, the
strong attachments of the muscles. Most of these


crania are dolichocephalic ; one is decidedly brachy-
cephalic as a German. The bones vary from the
very massive to the remarkably thin, and the first
points which struck me were the shortness of the
lower bi-temporal diameter, the long square face,
and the flatness or compression of the parietes,
which every traveller remarks in the Bedawin, the
flower of the Semitic race. Compared with the
valuable series of Umbrians in the Museum of
Natural History, and with another assortment not
yet prepared for exhibition, the Etruscans assert
themselves as the ' rerum domini,' and they give to
the ' vividus Umber' the mild aspect of a vassal
wanting animal force, the prime requirement of an
imperial race.

Prof. Calori has given a detailed account of 28
skulls in his folio of 169 pages. It is abundantly
illustrated by 1 7 tables, with the skulls reduced
throughout the atlas to half-lengths and quarter-
sizes. The lithographs, by C. Bettini, are sightly and
artistic. The volume is entitled ' Delia Stirpe che
ha popolato 1'antica Necropoli alia Certosa di
Bologna e delle genti affini : Discorso Storico-
Antropologico ' : Bologna, tipi Gamberini e Par-
meggiani, 1873. Of this magnificent work, 're-


markable for its material execution,' only 62 copies
were printed, at the expense of the City of Bologna ;
and Dr. Barnard Davis, who was, like myself, for-
tunate enough to receive a copy, inserted a short
notice of it in ' Anthropologia ' (No. i, pp. 104-5).
Needless to say this Edition de luxe should be fol-
lowed by a popular one.

Thirty-five pages (pp. 28-62, chap, iv.) are
allotted to the questions, ' Chi fossero gli Etruschi,
donde, quando e come venissero in Italia ? ' and the
answers are peculiarly unsatisfactory. The learned
anthropologist examines and rejects the Lydian or
Mseonian legend related to Herodotus, concerning
the Tyrrheni taking ship at Smyrna. This theory
has lately been revived by travels in Lycia, Phrygia,
and other parts of Asia Minor; but it relies mainly
upon superficial resemblances of dress and orna-
ments, of games and other customs, and of archi-
tecture, and ancient monuments, as the Sardis
Mound, the tomb of Porsenna (Chiusi), and the
Cucumella of Vulci. Glancing at the Pelasgic origin
assigned by Hellanicus Lesbius, he notices at some
length the terriginous theory of Dion Halicarnassus,
the profoundest writer on Italic subjects. The
latter, in contradiction to the general consensus of


antiquity, twenty-two classical authorities, denies the
Lydian legend, because Xanthus, a Greek of Sardis
and nearly contemporary with Herodotus, was silent
upon the subject ; and because the Rasenna l of his
day ' do not use the same language as the Lydians,
nor do they worship the same gods, nor resemble
them in their manners and customs.' But these
are negative proofs. Strabo, the contemporary of
the Halicarnassian, assures us that the Lydian
tongue had died out of Lydia ; and we may
reasonably conclude that, after distant wanderings,
and the Italianisation of a thousand years, the
Etruscans might greatly modify, in fact almost
change, their faith and their social habits. Nor must
we forget that the Etruscans declared consanguinity
with Sardis on the ground of an early colonisation
of Etruria by the Lydians (Tacit. ' Ann.' iv. 55). I
see, therefore, no reason why we should reject the
Lydian origin, or even the derivation of Tyrrhene
from Tyrrha, the Lydian Torrha (Miiller, ' Etrusk.'
Einl. ii. i).

1 Rasne and Resne have been found on Etruscan urns (Dennis, i.,
xxxii.). The late Dr. Hincks identified in the Perugian inscription
Tesne Rasne with ' Etruscan land ' ; cei with ' and,' and tesnteis with
' inhabitants.' As yet no Graeco-Etruscan bilingual inscription has
been discovered.


The Professor finds analogies with Egypt, as we
might expect from the records of the ' Tursha ' in-
vader. The three Etrurian Federations of Twelve
Cities suggest that of Lower Egypt, which had
Memphis for capital ; but this is also found in the
Twelve of the Achaean League. He then examines
the religion, apparently a pantheistic and polytheistic
naturalism, composed of three orders of gods, one of
immortals and the rest mortal. The first were the
' Diisuperiores et involuti,'the/?z#2/fo7of St. Augus-
tine, the primitive Matter (Hebrew, BoJm ; Egyptian,
Muf), which, uniting with generative force (Ba'al,
Amon, or Kem), the nisus formativus, became
Natura naturans, whence Natiira naturata. These
mysterious deities begat the consentes or complices
so called because they are born and die together the
' conciliarii ac principes summi Jovis.' This work-
ing committee of Twelve, like the Triad of the Brah-
mans and the Greeks, and the Duad of the Persians,
contained six males and six females, the ' Saktis '
symbolising, in the faith of India, Active Energy.
Lastly, from these twelve emanate the Genii, whom
the Professor compares with the Vishwadevas of the
Hindus, and whose action is good (Penates and
Lares}, bad (Larva), and indifferent (Le/tiures,


Lastz, and Manes or ghosts) : they may be reduced
to the dualistic form of beneficent and malevolent
Genii, superintended by Jove and Vejovis, Hormuzd
and Ahriman. Thus he deduces an Egypto- Phoe-
nician or simply a Phoenician system ; and, quoting
Seneca, ' Tuscos Asia sibi vindicat/ he opines the
Rasenna to be Aryans who had adopted a Semitic



I would here remark that while the cosmogony
of the Etruscans is Asiatic, the vast scheme of their
religion, numbering upwards of 200 gods and super-
naturals, connects them with Persia, with India,
and even with Greece. Moreover, they appear not
to ignore the creative Deity, the Demiurgos of the
cosmic system of Genesis. Their '^Esar,' translated
by all classical authorities ' Deus,' would be the
finial of the temple of faith, but the monotheistic
element is, as usual in polytheisms, kept out of
sight. ' Speak not of God to the mob,' said the
Pythagorean ; whereas Moses took the Deity out of
the hands of ,the priests, and made the idea the
property of the world. I have elsewhere noticed
how a notion of unity underlies the idolatry of
polytheistic peoples in Asia, and even in savage
Africa ; and, judging by the analogy of the former


with the civilisation of Egypt and Assyria, Greece
and Rome, I have little doubt that it was universal.
Here, therefore, despite the professional flavour of
the passage, I will not join issue with him who says :
' We may take comfort in the thought that the
Heavenly Father, whom they (the Turanians) igno-
rantly reverenced, did not leave them without some
faint witness of Himself, but dimly guided them to
a glimmering knowledge of the Eternal Goodness,
and gave them also, in their darkness, the solace of
that blessed hope of immortality which is the stay
and refuge of the Christian life.'

The language is then touched upon, with results
as meagre. Our author notices the several theo-
ries : the Semitic (Hebrew and Chaldee) of Janelli,
Tarquini, and Stickel ; the Iberian, or Basque;
the Keltiberian ; the Keltic (Etruria Celtica of Sir
W. Betham) ; the Teutono-Gothic ( Bardetti, Durandi,
Bruce Whyte, and Dr. Donaldson, in his ' Var-
ronianus'), 1 and the high German or Gothic of
Lord Crawford and Balcarres. The last-mentioned
author (Etruscan Inscriptions Analysed, Translated,
and Commented upon : Murray, 1873), makes the

1 He judges it, however, Pelasgian corrupted by Umbrian, and
mixed with the oldest Low German (Scandinavian).



sequence Japhetan, Aryan, and Teutonic, and iden-
tities the Tyrrhenoi, not with ' High Dutch,' but
with the Tervingi or Visi-Goths, the Thuringi of
Central Germany, and the Tyrki of Scandinavia.
Furthermore, we have the Slav (Volensky) ; the
Armenian (Robert Ellis, B.D., Peruvia Scytkica,
Triibner, 1875) ; the Sanskrit (Bertani) ; the Graeco-
Umbrian (Lepsius) ; the Rhseto-Romansch 1 (Steub,
1843) ; the 'Indo-European' (Prichard) ; the Archaic
Greek (Gori and Lanzi) ; and, finally, the Aryo-Italic
(Mommsen, Conestabile, Fabretti, and Corssen,
Ueber die Sprache der Etrusker, 2 vols. Leipzig
1874), like the Oscan, Umbrian, Euganean, and
other rude dialects of the ancient peninsula this
theory supports the Italic origin of Dion. Halicar-
nassus (Micali). After many modest professions
of incompetence, our Professor ends (p. 56) with
opining that ' i Fenici ' were the ancestry of the
Etruscans, and he complicates the question by con-
siderations of descent from Ham and Shem, which

1 In the cognate Euganean tongue, whose alphabet is considered
the oldest of the three Etrurias by Prof. Corssen, and most like the
Carthaginian, Count Giovanni of Schio points out the thoroughly
Aryan words mi (I), eka or ekka (hie), siithi (sum], and cerus manus =
Creator Sonus, the former from the root ' Kar,' doing or making, the
latter recognised as the opposite of the Latin immanis.


are somewhat old-fashioned in these days. He also
finds the Phoenicians in Sardinia and Sicily, perhaps
in Corsica and Illyria ; he traces them to Western
Italy, as at ' Punicum,' in the territory of ' Agylla,' 1
as the Phoenicians called Caere ; in Rusellae, from
Rosh-El, head (-land) of God, and in Telamon
(Tell-Amun), the Hill of Ammon. This is far
from convincing. Niebuhr says : ' People feel an
extraordinary curiosity to discover the Etruscan
language,' and adds that ' he would give a con-
siderable part of his worldly means as a prize if it
were discovered ; for an entirely new light would
then be spread over the ethnography of ancient
Italy.' The want, I fear, is far from being satisfied.
But we may attribute some importance to the
general aspect of Etruscan civilisation, its immense
superiority to that of the peninsula generally, and
its difference, not only in degree, but in kind, from
the social condition of the old Italic races. Their
cosmogony is evidently Genesitic ; while their zodiac
and their astronomy, which could fix the tropical
year at 365 d. 5h. 40 m., and their architecture,

1 Mommsen makes Agylla Punic and Semitic. Mr. Isaac Taylor
(P- 347) wonderfully derives it from Osmanli awlu, a court, and
eyl (or *'/), a country, as in Rum-Elia, the land of the Rumi.

O 2


especially the Doric, which we know to be Egyptian ;
the winged goddess ; the modified sphinx, the eagle-
banner, and a host of other Nilotica, must have
come, not from Italy, then barbarous, but from civi-
lized Mizraim or Chaldsea.

For the date of the Etruscan emigration we
have the suggestion, that it might have begun about
the seventeenth century B.C., when Semiramis,
the Imperatrice di molte favelle, had overrun the
so-called Holy Land, Egypt, and Ethiopia (B.C.
1975). The incursions of Joshua, son of Nun,
into ' Canaan ' (B.C. 145 1) may also, as legend informs
us, have tended to scatter other Tyrian and Sidonian
colonies over the western world.

Professor Calori declares (p. 64) that the
anthropologist must not found his theories upon
legend and language ; he studies the crania and
the skeletons of extinct races, and thus he raises
his own edifice with a secondary regard for history
and linguistic deductions. Our anthropologist sup-
ports, on the whole, Professor Nicolucci's Phoenician
type of Etruscan craniology, for which that dis-
tinguished student supplies some points of resem-
blance. Yet he hesitates to pronounce an opinion,
remembering that the race was probably anything


but pure at the time when it left its Asiatic home ;
in fact, he does not, after the fashion of certain
other writers, offer himself as CEdipus to the Etrus-
can sphinx.

We now come to the most valuable part of the
volume (pp. 65 to 161), the technical description
and comparison of the skulls, Umbrian, 1 Etruscan,
and Felsinean (from the Certosa), which are com-
pared with those of many other races, Phoenician,
Jewish, Keltic, and modern unhappily the Boii or
Lingones are absent. The dichotomic classification
of Retzius is adopted. Crania with a cephalic index
of 80 and more are brachycephalic, below 80 they
are dolichocephalic; 2 and the various subdivisions,
as orthocephalic or transitional, mesati or meso-
cephalic, sub-dolichocephalic, and sub-brachycephalic
are ignored, except in the concluding remarks

1 Dr. Paul Broca prefers les Ombres (Umbrians) for the ancient,
opposed to les Ombriens, the modern races, of Umbria.

2 Dr. J. Barnard Davis (Thesaurus, xv.) says : ' Where the breadth
is to the length in proportion of 0-80 or more to roo, the skull is
placed in the brachycephalic category ; where it is below that pro-
portion, or less than 0-80 to roo, in the dolichocephalic.' I have re-
tained the learned author's three terms cranium, for the whole skull
and face ; calvarittm, wanting the lower jaw ; and calvaria, when
only the vault of the skull, the cap or calotte, is in question ; but I
hesitate to adopt the letters, e.g. A (internal capacity), B (circum-
ference), C (fronto-occipital arch), etc. etc.


(No. 5). The cranial capacity is measured as usual
by sand, when the cranium permits ; in other cases
the Professor uses the rule of Broca and Beltrami :
' Multiply the three axial diameters of the ellipsoid,
and divide by ^f .' The relations of pre^auricular to
post-auricular are obtained in two ways : ist, divide
the horizontal circumference by the bi-auricular arch ;
2nd, divide by the same arch the fronto-occipital
curve, and measure the proportions in front and
behind it ; or, better still, the whole vertical circum-
ference, dividing it by the chord which is the base
of that arch in other words, by the transversal
bi-auricular diameter.

I. Professor Calori begins with the Umbrians,
of whom he had collated 15 pure specimens in
the Anthropological Museum from the Contado di
Camerino, where the Etruscans are supposed not to
have penetrated ; and where the Romans did not
rule till the decadence of Etruria : he compares them
with a much larger number, the modern descendants
of Umbria and the Marches, not including Ancona
which is Greek. The proportions of the long are
8 to 7 short heads or 53 per cent. : this figure is
notably different from the actual inhabitants, who
show 29 30 : 100. He describes and figures five


skulls (Nos. 1-5, plates i.-iii.), one cranium and four
calvaria, almost all deficient in some part.

(a) The old dolichocephalic Umbrian has a mean
cephalic index of 75*07, which in the Roman be-
comes 7770. The average cranial capacity is 1,375
cubic centimetre ( = 8 3 '9 1 4 cubic inches), which attains
1,558 c.c. ( = 95-082 cubic inches) in the Roman, and
1,506 c.c. ( = 91-908 cubic inches) in the Kelt. The
latter shows a marked difference from the former;
he is not only more dolichocephalic, but also, like
the Keltiberian, he is parieto-occipital, instead of
being parieto-frontal. Amongst the 19 Umbrians the
post-auricular form prevails over the pre-auricular,
and the pre-auricular is more highly developed
horizontally than vertically. (Nos. 1-2, Tables
i.-ii.). The sutures are pervious : the norma verti-
calis is either oval or elliptic. The norma lateralis
or profile (mean facial angle 79) shows a straight
and moderate forehead with the tubera frontalia^
and the nasal sinus tolerably well marked ; the arch
is regular, the occiput prominent, and one (No. 3)

1 In many West African skulls, especially at Dahome, I remarked
the absence of the tubera frontalia, or rather their conversion into a
tuber frontale, a central boss, whose sides sloped regularly away in all
directions. This form is most common in women, and it gives the
face a peculiarly naive and childish expression, the reverse of intel-


has a large fontanelle ; the zygomatic arches are
of middling strength and curve, the anterior nasal
spine is well developed, and there is a slight alve-
olar prognathism. The norma facialis (front view)
shows a fine broad brow, a large glabella, quad-
rangular orbits, horizontal or oblique, and the general
squareness of the old Italic skulls, especially
inherited by that ' quid novum ' the improved
Roman. We see this in the statues of the
Emperors, and we can hardly wonder at it when
we remember the origin of the Luceres (Tusco-
Umbri). The norma basilaris (or occipitalis) gives
a well-developed occipital crest and semi-circular
lines, whilst the foramen is central.

(b] The brachycephalic Umbrian skull (plate iii.)
is described as ' esquisitamente bello': c. i. 8179,
thus not very short ; average cran. cap. only 1,409
cub. cent. ( = 85*987 cubic inches) ; post-auricular
equally developed horizontally and vertically, whilst
the pre-auricular preponderates in the former direc-
tion hence the brachycephalic is less pre-auricular
than the dolichocephalic. The sutures are mostly
open and the vertex is oval ; the profile (facial angle
80) is elegant, and in one most elegant ; the fore-
head is straight, with strongly marked sinuses, and


is rather high than otherwise. The zygomata are
moderate : orbits horizontal, squarer and somewhat
smaller than in the dolichocephalic ; nose not pro-
minent, occipital tubercle hardly marked, and foramen
posterior ; there is a slight alveolar prognathism,
with perpendicular teeth. Finally, the Professor
notes the essential differences between the brachy-
cephalic Umbrian and the Ligurian (plate viii.).

II. Of the Central Etruscan skulls (9), five are
described and figured (Nos. 6 n, plates iv.-vii.).
In these dolichocephalism is more common than
amongst the Umbrians ; Nicolucci gives 37 : 100 ;
Zanetti 23 : 100; and Calori somewhat reduces
the latter figure.

(a) Of the three dolichocephalic, the average
c. i. is 75*63, which Nicolucci marks 76'oS. It is
thus a medium between the Umbrians (75*07), and
the Romans (7770). The cran. cap. is (mean)
1,375 c.c. J in three specimens (Nos. 6,7 and 8) it rises
to 1,629 c. c. (~99*4I5 cubic inches), the Umbrian
being 1,375 an ^ the Roman 1,558; the maximum is
large and almost equal to the Keltic. The post-
auricular constantly prevails. Sutures all pervious
and wanting Wormian bones. Vertex ovoid, and in
one there is a slight carena bisecting the brow. The


profile has a facial angle averaging 75'5O. Forehead
almost straight or slightly oblique, generally some-
what depressed and compressed ; temples flat, and
lower part of brow narrow ; orbits now square, then
circular, here horizontal, there oblique ; face longer
than in the Umbrians and notably broader in corre-
spondence with the zygomata ; nasal bones suggest-
ing aquilinity, and chin various.

This type is pronounced to be different from all
the Italic crania, Ligurians, Pelasgians, Oscans, Um-
brians, and Romans. It cannot be compared with the
old Egyptians (17 specimens), with the Helvetians,
or with the modern Italian Jews (6 specimens). The
latter are much more dolichocephalic ; they are larger,
and the face is long, whilst that of the Etruscan is
broad. There are certain points of resemblance with
the modern Sards (22 specimens), supposed to be
Phoenicians, such as the proportions of the pre-
auriculars to the post-auriculars, the cranial arch
and the frontal height. This latter approaches the
Egyptians and Phoenicians, but it is very different
from the Jews. The Phoenician analogies, whom the
Professor will call ' Hamitico-Semites,' are given
with considerable detail (pp. 111-121). He cannot
say that the dolichocephalic Etruscan is either a


Semite or a Phoenician, but the nescio quid of the
expert suggests Egypto-Phoenician. In conversation,
Prof. Calori also compared them with the Cartha-
ginianised Sards, especially the modern skulls dating
from the last three centuries.

(<$) Of the brachycephalic Central Etruscan only
two skulls are given (Nos. 10 and n ; plates vii.,
viii.). They appear larger than those of the ancient
Umbrians and best agree with the old Ligurians
c.i. 80*67, and cran. cap. 1,479 c.c. ( = 90*026 c. inches) ;
in the Umbrians 1,409, and in the Ligurians 1,461.
The vertex is ovoid, but, like the dolichocephalics,
it is anteriorly narrower than in the Ligurian. The
profile (f. a. 75'5o). gives well-expressed circular
lines of temple, deep fosses, and strong zygomatic
arches with the zygomata turned outwards. The
forehead is straight, rather low, broad above and
narrow below, like ii. (a] ; it has a sign of the longi-
tudinal carena, and the sinuses are better marked
than the tubera frontalia ; the orbits are small,
horizontal, and deep, rather square than round. The
peculiarity of one mandible (No. 11*, plate viii.) is
the wearing down of the teeth, which has been
noticed in several others : the corona is not shortened,
as amongst the Guanches of Tenerife, by eating


parched grain ; it is* reduced to two large cutting
cuspides, in saddleback form. 1

III. The Certosa find, where, out of 365 fu-
neralia, 250 affected inhumation, appears more im-
portant than it proved to be. The damp, the superin-
cumbent weight of earth, and the long inhumation of
20 centuries had rendered all the Felsinean crania
useless except 16 (a total of 40), and of this poor
number only one was perfect. The Necropolis, how-
ever, served to establish the average stature of the
race ; the men measured 175 metre (= 5 feet 8-90
inches) and the women 1*58 metre (=5 feet 2 '20
inches). Certain analogies with the negro and the
pre-historic man were shown JDV the latter ; as the
proportional length of the forearm to the whole arm,
and the thigh to the leg, together with a higher
degree of prognathism. The elliptical perforation of
the supratrochlear fosses, which appeared to be con-
genital, and not the effect of marasmus senilis, also
suggested Africa, whilst the acinaciform (en lame de
sabre) tibiae, laterally compressed and acute at the
edges, are familiar in the pre-historic ~ skeletons of

1 Dr. Paul Broca gives the indicial differences of the nine Etruscans
Proper as The maximum, 8roi : 100 ; the minimum, 70-41 ; and a
mean difference of io - 6o.

2 Dr. Paul Broca, reviewing Calori and Conestabile (Ethnogcnie


the oldest types. Only two of the 250 showed the
frontal sutures so common in the Umbrian and the
Marzabotto skulls : in modern crania they average
7-10 per cent. Of the 16 a proportion of 45 : 100
were brachycephalic, Nicolucci at Marzabotto pro-
poses the figures 46-65 : 100.

(a) The eight dolichocephalic Felsineans (nos.
14-21, plates x.-xiv.) unite the characteristics of the
Umbrians, Etruscans, and Romans. In the six
males the c.i. averages 77*33, in the five females
77*28, giving an average for both sexes of 77*30.5 ;
thus they are less in length than the Umbrians and
Etruscans, much less than the Kelts, and corre-
sponding with the Romans (77*70). The average
cran. cap. of both sexes is 1,344 c. c. (= 8 2 '02 2 c.i.),
of the men 1,560 (=95*204 c.i.), a figure superior
to the dolichocephalic Etruscans and Kelts, and
equal to the Romans. The post-auricular predomi-
nates in 84 per cent In two specimens the bones
are so thick as to suggest hyperostosis. The ovoid
skulls appear anteriorly narrow on account of the

Italienne : ' Les Ombres et les Etrusques,' pp. 289-297, Vol. III.,
Revue d'Anthropologie}, separates Pre-historic (unknown) from
Proto-historic (legendary) and from Historic (written) : the latter in
its positive form began with B.C. 500 in Greece, with B.C. 300 in
Southern and Central Italy famed for proto-history, and with A.D.
300 in Northern Europe.


great posterior breadth, yet they are wider than
the Umbrians, Etruscans, and Kelts, and corre-
spond with the Romans ; the bimastoid diameter
gives greater breadth than the Umbrians, and excels

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonEtruscan Bologna: a study → online text (page 10 of 14)