By London Swaminathan
(I have already written in Tamil about the Roman- Tamil trade contacts that existed two thousand years ago. Scores of references are there in Sangam Tamil literature about the Yavanas, which is corroborated by Greek and Roman writers of the first few centuries of modern era. Thousands of Roman gold coins of first few centuries were discovered throughout South India. The book “Roman Karur” by eminent historian and archaeologist Dr R Nagasamy gives detailed accounts of this in English. Recently pots of gold coins of Roman origin have been discovered in Anantha Pathmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvanathapuram. When the inventory is released we may have more details about such contacts. The following article is completely different from it which deals with Etruscans, a mysterious culture of Northern Italy. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Who are Etruscans?
Etruscans were the people who occupied Etruria, Italy between 8th century BC and 2nd century BC. Etruria is the modern day Tuscany and part of Umbrian Italy. They ruled Rome from 616-509 BC. Roman civilization was greatly influenced by Etruscan culture. Etruscan language is not fully deciphered. Still the origin of Etruscans is debated.
In the eyes of Greek writers and their Roman successors Etruscans were different from them. They were blamed as pirates
Though lot of things about Etruscans remain mysterious we can’t miss the striking similarities between Hindus and the Etruscans. We see Tamil and Sanskrit words in Etruscan language. We will look at them in bullet points.
1.Origin of Etruscans: They were Tamils(Termilai) and descendents of Pulasthya Rishsi (Pelasginians/Philistines)
2.Birds for predicting future: Like Tamils, they also used birds for predicting future (also read my post in the blog “ Can Birds Predict Your Future?”)
3. Cremation and burial of ash in Urns: This is a Hindu custom followed from Vedic days.
4. Musical instrument Lyre/ Yaz, Kombu: Etruscans used musical instruments which looked like Indian (Horn, also known as Kombu Vadhyam in Tamil) lyre (also known as Yaaz in Tamil)
5. Swastika symbol: Swastika symbol, used by the Hindus till today, was found in their jewels. North Indian Hindus still print Swastika in their wedding invitations, Pujas, Havans and other auspicious ceremonies.
6. Language: We come across words of Sanskrit and Tamil origin
7. Many Gods: Etruscans were polytheistic
Now I will give you more details:
Origin from Pulastya Rishi and Tamils:
There were three theories about the origin of Etruscans. Greek historian Herodotus said that Etruscans came from Turkey. Modern DNA research has proved he was right. Western Turkey was called Lydia. This area was full of Sanskrit names in the olden days. Herodotus said that the ancestors of Etruscans were forced to leave Lydia after 18 years of hard times. They left Lydia under the leadership of Tyrrhenus, son of King of Lydia.
Virgil and others thought they were another branch of Pelasginians. They were the same people who attacked Egypt in 1200 BC. Egyptians called them Sea People. This word came from the Indian Rishi Pulastya. He was one of the seven seers mentioned by the Vedas. Pulastya was the forefather of Rakshasas, Kinnaras, Vanaras and Yakshas. Megasthanes called the people of Ceylon “ Palesgini”, according to Dr KK Pillay. Indian scriptures and Mahavamsa also called the Ceylonese people Yakkas (Yakshas) i.e descendents of Seer Pulastya. They were called Philistines in the Bible.
The original name of the Lycians was Tremilai or Termilai and it may be equated with Dramila/ Tamils/ Dravida according to KK PIllay (Ref. taken from Aryatarangini by A Kalyanaraman page 224).
In short, Sea People, Pelasginians,Termilai, Tremilai, Philistines of the Bible, Pulastyas, Yakshas are one and the same. We can easily trace them to a common source. Since they were interested in trade, they went to different countries.
Cremation and Burials
Like Hindus, Etruscans also followed the custom of burial and cremation. When they cremated the bodies, they kept the ash in urns. They believed in afterlife like Hindus. Their tombs looked exactly like tombs in Turkey, which proved Herodotus was right. They left jewels, furniture etc. in the tombs for the future life of the departed souls.
Birds Used for Prediction
Boulon is the word for bird. It is similar to PUl in Tamil.
Tamils believed that flights of birds or their sounds (calls) can predict good and bad things that is going to happen. Even today their traditional calendars (Panchang) publish those details every year. No two cultures in the world come so close as the Tamils and the Etruscans. Etruscans had such a calendar.
Etruscans believed that Gods speak to mortals through nature. They even interpreted thunder and lightning. This is in the Hindu Upanishads. The famous parable of Three “Da” sounds of Thunder is in the Upanishads. Another story about five elements trying to lift a blade of grass is also in the Upanishads.
Etruscans used livers of sacrificed animals to find their future. Mesopotamians had similar beliefs. Like Vastu Shastra allocate different corners for different Gods, they have different areas for different gods in the liver. A Bronze model of a sheep’s liver from Piacenza (150 BC) gives 52 names of divinities, mostly abbreviates. Many of them were repeated.
Etruscans believed that their religion were revealed to them by seers. This is what exactly Hindus say about the Vedas.
Etruscans were a deeply religious people like Hindus.
They had religious calendars like Hindu Panchang. Like Hindu scriptures they specified which sacrifices should be done for which Gods on what days.
Polytheism was practised by Etruscans like modern day Hindus. Manifestation of divine power in different forms was appreciated by the Etruscans.
They had three tiers of Gods: 1. Lesser deities of local origin, like the Gram Devtas of Indian villages 2.Ruling over them were higher deities and 3.Greek Gods were adopted by the Etruscans. Items 2 and 3 have got similarities with Indo-European Gods (Hindu Gods)
Dionysus, Seneca said that they believed in 40 different Gods. The same god was worshipped in different forms on different occasions to achieve different things or to appreciate different aspects of divinity. Lot of these deities entered Roman pantheon later.
Griffins also were found in tomb sculptures. These are creatures found in Indo European language speaking areas. Mitanni civilization had such griffins.
Language and Alphabet
Etruscans wrote from right to left like we have it in Indus seals and other Semitic inscriptions.
Etruscans got their alphabet from the Greeks and modified it to suit their sounds. Romans borrowed it from the Etruscans. Now we have three sounds for K in English: K, C, Q. This is because Etruscans’ language had fine distinctions. They used different sounds for different words like we see 4 Ka, 4Sa, 4Ta etc. in Sanskrit. Tamil also has such fine distinctions for L,R and N (three different L, 3N and 2Rs in Tamil).
The longest Etruscan manuscript was from the linen cloth found wrapped around a mummy. It has 1200 words. This is called Liber Linteus of Zagreb. Another example of Etruscan writing is the Tile of Capua which has got 62 lines. Three gold foils, known as The Pyrgi Lamellae, have inscribed lines in Etruscan and Phoenician. These jewels were dedicated to Goddess Astarte. Etruscans called the same Goddess Uni. Votive offerings like these are offered to Hindu Goddesses (Example: Sankarankoil Gomathy Amman, Madurai Mari Amman).
Astarte is identified with Goddess Inanna, Ishtar, Aphrodite and goddess of Egypt. This clearly shows that the same Goddess was worshipped in different areas of the world (Asia, Africa, Europe) with different names. Hindus can understand them better than any other community in the world, because they travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to worship the same gods and goddesses with different names in over 108,000 temples ( Please read my post: How many temples are in India?).
Though 13000 Etruscan inscriptions were discovered, scholars have identified only a few hundred words. The language remains mostly un deciphered. The inscriptions were short like Indus seals. More over Etruscans did not leave us any literature.
Muni (tomb)= it may be muni (ghost or saint or manithan)
Ais/eis= God (Sanskrit: Eswaran,Aiswarya)
Favi= grave or temple (Avi in Tamil is spirit of the dead)
Clan=son= kula in Sanskrit
Locumno=king=Ilango in Tamil
F sound came into Europe from Etruscan; this is in Sanskrit.
Latin words in Etruscan
Latin and Sanskrit come from the same roots. Latin words found in Etruscan are nepos/nephew/neft.
Cousin and wine (vinum) are other words..
Latin also borrowed words from Etruscan: elementum, literae, stylus, cera.
All these words are about writing and letters .Elementum,( e)literate are similar to EZUTHU (write, writing) in Tamil.
Because of the sound changes, lot of Greek words were written with varied spellings in Etruscan:
Thraiambos(Gk)=Triumpus (Lat)=Triumphus(Etruscan). This is from Sanskrit Triambakan/Shiva who burnt three cities of demons with his three eyes. In fact we have a three headed demon in the Etruscan statues.
Fun Loving People
The Etruscans were a fun loving race. They had dance and music, banquets and parties. We see beautiful scenes in the 2800 old paintings on the walls of their tombs. They had gender equality. Men and Women enjoyed the same rights which we see in ancient Vedic culture. The musical instruments displayed in the frescoes were similar to Tamil’s Horn (Thaarai, Thambattai, Kombu Vadhyangal) and Lyre (Yaaz).
Archaeologists have discovered over 3000 mirrors from Etruscan centres. Over 1000 bronze mirrors have inscriptions. The ladies must have spent lot of time in doing make up.
Mirrors have beautiful engravings on them. Western scholars interpret everything with Greek mythology. But when I looked at the pictures of hundreds of mirrors I can find matching anecdotes from Hindu mythology.
Etruscans played dice like the Pandavas of Hindu Epic Mahabharata. On the dice they wrote the words for numerals instead of dots.
Ancient Tamil women had plaited their hair into five parts called Aimpal Kunthal (five division hair). We such five prt plaits in some statues.
Writing on Epitaphs
Etruscans wrote on tombstones (epitaphs).
Tamils also wrote on stones where they cremated or buried heroes. They were called Hero Stones (Nadu Kal).
Sanskrit and Etruscan
Etruscan is an inflected language like Sanskrit.
Case singular plural
Nominative clan (son) clenar (Sons)
And Accusative clens clenarasi
Genetive (of) clensi clenarasi
Dative (to) clensi cliniiaras
Locative (in) clenthi
Common nouns have gender difference, but personal names have gender ending. It is like Sanskrit sounds:
Feminine names: Uni (Latin Juno),Menrva (Lat.Minerva), Clutsmsta (Gk.Klytem nestra), Ati, Seianti, Lasa
In Sanskrit we have Latha, Uma, Geetha, Rukmini, Shanthi, Vaijayanthi (either” “a” or “ i “ending)
Masculine names:Hercle (Gk.Hercules), Menle (Gk.Menelaos), Achle (Gk. Achilles), Zimite (Gk. Diomedes), Aule (Gk.Aulus), Taitle (Gk.Daidalos), Sime
(In Sanskrit we have “a” ending. Examples: Rama,Krishna,Siva,Harichandra)
Names of Gods end in “s” like Sanskrit “ji” –respectful suffix (Mataji, Pitaji)
Pesonal pronouns have more similarity with Tamil, Telugu etc.
First person “I” = mi (similar to Telugu)
Third person: an (avan in Tamil)
This=ita, eta ( In Tamil Ithu, athu)
More Sanskrit and Tamil words in Etruscan
Tin= Dina =day, Oesan=Ushas=morning, Masan=masa=month, arim=ari=monkey,leu=lion=Yali=mirror image of the word yali=lia; neri=water=nara, nereids are water nymphs in Greek, Narayana=water god, capra=copra=urn, husiur=sisu=child, ati=mother=aththi in Tamil, apa=father=appa in Tamil, papa= granfather, teta=grandma=but in Tamil its grandpa, mech=people=makkal in Tamil.
At a cursory glance of 100 words I found out the above words.
Numerals have some similarities with Sanskrit:
2=zal=zwei in German=twa in Sanskrit=Duo=Di= dwa= Two
4=sa=(Satur in Sanskrit)
6=huth=(Shasti in Sanskrit: H=S is a well known linguistics equation)
7=semph (sapta in Sanskrit)
9=nurph (Nav in Sanskrit)
Not all the numbers are close to Sanskrit. Scholars are not sure about Etruscan words for100, 1000 etc. But the structure is similar to Sanskrit.
In Sanskrit we say 5+20= for 25, 7+30= for 37 unlike English and Tamil (In English it is 20+5= twenty five, in Tamil also it is 20+5=Irupaththu Ainthu)
Etruscan numbers are done like Sanskrit. Eg.16= 6+10 huth zar; 17=7+10 ciem zathrum.
Greeks called the Etruscans TYRRHENIANS (closest Sanskrit word I could think of is Taitriya Upanishad). Greeks also gave this name to the surrounding sea. Romans and Greeks derided them as pirates.
Romans knew Etruscans as Etruri or Tusci (Tuscany is the area they lived).
Etruscans called themselves Rasna or Rasenna (Sanskrit Rasana= Taste)
Though there are some similarities between Hindus and Etruscans and similarity between Etruscan and Indian languages, we need more evidence to support any new theory. Since majority of the inscriptions are not deciphered, one has to wait for more information. Besides, the difference in pronunciation must be taken into account to find out the source. Even the Greek and Roman names were distorted in Etruscan. They lived only next door. A scholar well versed in several languages only can come to right conclusions. As of now, Etruscans stand out as a separate community and stand alone without any affinity to any known culture.