Etruscan Dancers, Acquarossa

Etruscan Dancers, Acquarossa


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Etruscan society

Etruscan society is mainly known through the memorial and achievemental inscriptions on monuments of Etruscan civilization, especially tombs. This information emphasizes family data. Some contractual information is also available from various sources. [1] The Roman and Greek historians had more to say of Etruscan government. [1]


Ancient Roman Dance

Dances in ancient Roman were described in recovered texts and have been pictured in Roman art. They seem to have been performed mostly for entertainment purposes. Often, the focus was on different elements, such as comedy, love, or even fear.

In the ancient Roman era, dancers were considered professionals but with low social status, not respected artists of religious nature as seen in Greece at that time. Additionally, dance was not a sacred public function, as in Greece, but looked down on as a low form of entertainment.

In the countryside of the Roman Empire, people danced for their own entertainment. Wealthy Romans did not partake in dancing themselves. Instead, they would hire dancers to perform as party entertainment for them.

Several of the dance entertainers were actually slaves from Greece. Under the rule of Emperor Nero, dancing became a disrespected activity, and eventually dancing for the theater was banned due to the request of the Christian church.

Roman dance style was influenced by the various styles of Etruscan and Greek dance. Pyrrhic dances, for instance, were created by Greek dancers but made popular by the Romans.

Dancing priests and other clergymen that were members of the nobility participated in war dances wearing full armor with a shield and a staff. They also engaged in fertility dances sometimes to honor the gods.

In this way, dance originated in ancient Rome as a religious practice. Romans at this time believed that all of the body must be engaged in the dance and under the influence of the religion. Noble matrons and senators’ children engaged in this type of dancing.

Romans also began to act out theatrical scenes through dancing, which was called pantomiming and did not involve speaking. Their roles were to tell stories through body movements, gestures, and the masks that they wore.

Because of their mutual influence, dancing styles in Greece and Rome were very similar. They used a specific musical tempo with the standard four beats per measure. Dances were often performed in the form of a line in which the leader of the line was the best dancer.

Like the Greeks, Romans also danced to appease the gods. Their costumes in both civilizations were generally standard clothing for daily wear, but sometimes depending on the dance itself might have included a few additional accessories.

The Pyrrhic dance was introduced into the Roman Games by Julius Caesar. It was generally danced by children in the Dionysian style of dance. In Spartan times, boys from the ages of 15 and up would engage in this dance, often while holding weapons.

Gymnastic styles of dance were performed in Spartan times to celebrate battles. Because of this, it always included battle weapons and was designed to show off the soldiers’ athletic ability and synchronized movements.

One dance that was commonly performed by both men and women was the Bibasis. This dance style involved jumping up and down and striking the feet behind. It became a competition, in that successful strokes were counted and compared.


How Etruscans reached the afterlife: orgasm, blood, and erotic dance

The Etruscans lived in what is today Tuscany, Italy, and the island of Corsica from about 700 years BCE.

The region was eventually conquered by the Romans and their culture was gradually assimilated into Roman culture. But the Etruscans have had an influence on us long after their time, via Roman culture and architecture.

Emirutus professor, Rasmus Brandt, from the University of Oslo, Norway, has lived in Italy for 30 years and has given students tours of the beautiful tombs that the Etruscans left behind.

The Etruscans decorated the tombs with images of dancing and partying, erotism, and brutal action. And Brandt has long wondered what the pictures actually mean. He now believes that he may have figured it out.

Brandt studied Etruscan art left in tombs dating from 2,600 to 2,200 years ago. He thinks that the erotic rituals, blood rituals, and dancing dipicted in the artworks, were designed to bring the soul safely to the kingdom of death.

The three phases of death

The Etruscans left no written sources. So, modern historians depnd on records left by the Romans and Greeks when studying their culture.

"Instead, I've tried to understand the Etruscans from the Etruscans," says Brandt.

The key, he says, is to understand death as a transitional ritual that consists of three phases:

  1. The separation phase, which occurs at the moment of death when the soul is released from the body.
  2. The transition phase, when the soul sets out on its perilous journey across the border of death to the kingdom of death.
  3. The reunification phase, when the soul comes to the kingdom of death and meets its ancestors and celebrates with a big party.
The soul's journey across death&rsquos borderlands

The critical phase in the Etruscans' perception of death is therefore about the soul's migration after death and before the soul enters the kingdom of death.

&ldquoDuring this migration, the soul is exposed to dangerous and dark forces such as sorrow, hunger, distress, sickness, fear, and even war,&rdquo says Brandt.

"That means that people who were involved with the burial rituals had to help the soul move on,&rdquo he says.

But how do you get in touch with these transcendental powers, as Brandt also refers to them?

He argues that the Etruscans did this by putting themselves in a kind of hypnotic state, either through ecstatic dance or erotic play. This, he says, is exactly what is portrayed in the Etruscan tombs.

Orgasm was an important part of the ritual

Brandt believes the art left in Etruscan tombs shows how the moment of orgasm was absolutely central for the transition from life to death.

&ldquoAt the moment of orgasm, you are outside of yourself. You are in a kind of trance,&rdquo says Brandt. &ldquoThis allowed the participants to come into contact with the dark forces the souls of the dead met on their way to the kingdom of death.&rdquo

The form of the sexual encounter didn&rsquot seem to matter &mdash the pictures in the tombs dipict various types of sexual acts, both heterosexual and homosexual. Brandt argues that it was the act of orgasm that mattered, not the manner in which it was achieved.

Blood gives eternal life

Blood may also have been an element that the Etruscans used to ensure that the soul reached the kingdom of death and gained eternal life.

In many places in the world, blood was an important part of animal and human sacrifices, and in funeral rituals.

Brandt is particularly focused on one Etruscan image. It shows a bloody man whose head is covered as he is attacked by a dog. The scene is interesting, he says, because there is another man who has a leash on the dog, and who is clearly orchestrating what is happening.

&ldquoThe scene creates both fear and laughter,&rdquo he says.

He believes that the Etruscans saw laughter as protecting people from the dark transcendental forces that tried to come into the world of the living.


The Unknown Story of the Greeks Who Shaped the Latin Alphabet

Etruscan painting of dancers and musicians, in the Tomb of the Leopards, Tarquinia, Italy. Photo credit: Wikipedia
The Latin alphabet is undoubtedly the world’s most recognizable form of written language, whose history goes back in time to the eras of ancient Greek and Roman dominance of the entire Western world.
In its modern form, with its many variations and alterations, the Latin alphabet is officially used by an amazing 131 sovereign nations, and it is also a co-official script form in twelve other countries.
Even in the countries which do not use it officially, most of their people not only recognize it, but they can also read it, mainly due to the global influence of the English language in our time.
However, the exact origins of the Latin alphabet now used by billions of people are relatively unknown, and very few people are actually aware that the Latin alphabet itself finds its roots in an older form of Greek writing.
The Origins of the Latin alphabet
The giant Greek inscription running all around the interior of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
It is widely accepted in the linguistic community that the Latin alphabet is a product of a long and complicated journey which ultimately has its roots back in the hieroglyphic tradition of ancient Egypt.
However, its most obvious and prominent influence derived from the Greek alphabet itself.
It was no other than the Euboean variation of the Greek alphabet, used on the island of Euboea (Evia) in Greece, which ultimately created what we now call the ”Western Greek alphabets.”
The western Greek alphabets shaped, in their turn, the Etruscan alphabet, the direct predecessor of the alphabet used by the Romans to write the Latin language.
The Euboean alphabet was used by the Greeks who lived in the cities of Chalkis and Eretria beginning in the early years of Greek antiquity.
The Greek Colony of Cumae and How it Shaped the Latin Alphabet
The Acropolis of Cumae as seen from the lower city. Photo credit: Wikipedia
The ancient Greeks of Chalkis were the first to make colonies on the mainland of today’s Italy.
As early as in the 8th century BC, Chalkideans sailed to Italy and established the first Greek colony on the peninsula, the city of Cumae (Κύμη).
In what is now an ancient site near the town of Cuma (whose name was derived from ancient Cumae) lies the secret of the creation of the alphabet which is currently used by most of humankind.
Cumae was not only the first colony the Greek settlers established, but it also became one of the most vibrant and powerful in the centuries before the Roman conquest.
The boundaries of Etruscan civilization.
The Greeks of Cumae spread their Greek culture throughout Italy and introduced the Euboean alphabet, the one their ancestors were using on Euboea, Greece, to the local people.
The Etruscans, whose civilization came into direct contact and interrelation with the Greek settlers, were heavily influenced by Cumae and the rest of the nearby Greek settlements.
Thus, from approximately 650 BC up until around 100 BC, the Etruscans adopted and used the Euboean alphabet introduced to Italy by the Cumaean Greeks, to create a written form for their own, Etruscan language.
The meanings of most Etruscan words are still unknown today, comprising one of largest conundrums in the world of linguistics. Perhaps one day a Rosetta Stone enabling researchers to decipher the meanings of the Etruscan vocabulary will be found. However, the letters they adopted for the writing down of their language are perfectly recognizable.
The Etruscan Alphabet
Restoration of the Etruscan script found on Nestor’s Cup, an eighth-century BC wine cup discovered in 1954 on the island of Pithekoussai, today’s Ischia in Italy. The text was written from right to left.
The alphabet adopted by the Etruscans was almost identical to Euboean Greek, which in its turn, was very similar to the Greek alphabets used at that time in ancient Greece.
However, it did have some differences both in terms of its phonetics and in the shape of its letters.
By simplifying things a bit, we could say that the appearance of the Euboean, and consequently the Etruscan alphabets, that could be described as a mixture of what we know today as the Greek and Latin alphabets.
The Etruscans, of course, added their own elements, shaping the Euboean alphabet in a way that would suit their own language, thus creating the precursor of the alphabet the Romans would eventually use.
For example, while most of the Greek alphabets used the letter ”Π” to depict the sound of ”p,” the Etruscans wrote that letter in a way that was closer to today’s shape of ”P,” paving the way for the formation of what we know today as ”P” and ”p” in English.
The same happened with other ancient Greek letters, such as the letter sigma depicted as ”Σ,” which was written by the Etruscans in a way that was closer to today’s ”S” rather than the Greek ”Σ”.
The Latin Alphabet as a Variation of the Etruscan
Latin inscription in the Colosseum of Rome, Italy. Photo credit: Wikipedia
Following centuries of becoming more and more instrumental in Italy’s cultural development, the Etruscan alphabet became the father of the Latin alphabet itself.
The Romans, along with their complete conquest of the Italian peninsula, adopted the Etruscan alphabet to use it as a written form of their own, Latin language, which soon became the lingua franca of Italy, eclipsing the Etruscan language and other dialects.
These other languages would eventually become completely extinct.
The Romans, of course, shaped the Etruscan alphabet in a way that would suit their own Latin language’s needs. For this reason, they reshaped some of their letters and introduced new ones over the passage of time while abolishing others.
The Romans kept letters which originally belonged to the Greek alphabet, but were later abolished by the Greeks, such as the letter ”F,” which was originally known as ”digamma.”
The Romans did not hesitate to introduce new letters to their alphabet as well, as soon as they were heavily influenced by the rich culture of Greece following the Roman conquest of Greece.
Prominent examples of this influence include the letters ”Y” and ”Z,” which did not exist in the Latin alphabet until the Romans realized that they needed them to transliterate Greek words that their language was adopting.
Epilogue

It is obvious that without the first Greek colonies of Italy and their massive cultural influence in the region, today’s world of the written word might have been completely different.
However, one must never perceive the evolution of languages as a static and unique process in any way.
Linguistic influences, adaptations and alterations take centuries to create a wholly ”new product” in the form of an alphabet or a language thus one cannot simply say that the Latin alphabet is simply a variation of the Greek.
We should all bear in mind that the Greek alphabet itself, a form of written text that shaped Latin so profoundly, was itself nothing more than a product of the evolution of the Phoenician alphabet, which in its turn, finds its roots in the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt.
The journey of any alphabet or language is far more complicated than we could ever even imagine, leaving us plenty of room for deep scientific research which can unveil the truth behind one of humanity’s most basic needs: to speak and write to forge a connection with others.


The Mysterious Ais: The Etruscan Religion

The Etruscan religion that formed from the Iron Age practices of the Villanovan culture, was heavily influenced by the Greek mythology, and also shared similarities with the emerging Roman culture . The religion was polytheistic, and a heavy emphasis was placed on the power of the deities – the Etruscans believed that all visible phenomena were divine manifestations.

But their pantheon didn’t differ too much from that of their neighbors. The gods, called ‘ais’ in the Etruscan language, were split into three layers. The lowest layer was reserved for the common, indigenous deities – Usil the god of sun, Tivr the moon god, Laran the god of war, and his consort Turan the goddess of love and fertility.

Statues of Usil the god of the sun, 500-480 BC. (Sailko / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

In the second ‘layer’ are the Greek deities that were clearly adopted under the early influence: Pacha, Aritimi, Menrva – the Etruscan equivalents to Bacchus, Artemis, and Minerva. The highest aspect of the Etruscan pantheon was the trinity that ruled over all: Tinia the god of the sky, his wife, Uni, and the goddess of earth – Cel.

From this elaborate pantheon a complex system of priest and officials arose. The most important religious figures of the Etruscan society were the netsvis, the so-called haruspex, were made the center piece of daily life and social events.

The most prominent form of religious practice was divination from the liver. These priests would sacrifice sheep and examine the bumps on the liver – these would be studied to divine on important happenings. And perhaps it is this well-attested custom of animal sacrifice that ties so perfectly with the nature of the Pyramid of Bomarzo.


Etruscan Innovations

But in many ways Etruscan art was different to that of Greece. For instance, the roofing techniques found in Etruria were not in Greece, and this can be taken further as we examine Etruscan dwellings in general. An Etruscan funerary urn (8th century BC) depicts a wattle and daub hut most un-Greek in style. Also, even if some materials and techniques may have had Greek origins, we still have a good deal of subject matter that is uniquely Etruscan.

Funeral urn depicting a wattle and daub hut , 8th century BC. , Museo nazionale di Villa Giulia , Roma ( Public Domain )

For instance, there is little exaltation of local heroes in the art and no attempt to use it as a tool of fear or propaganda. This may be one of the reasons why the Etruscans are thought mysterious to modern archaeologists and dangerous to Greeks and Romans, as they felt identity was more precious than all else.


Etruscan Dancers, Acquarossa - History

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    Hasselblad 503CW, Makro Planar 4/120 mm

    Print auf Ilford MG FB Classic

    Selentonung MT 1, 1+20, 40 sec

    Lichter etwas angebleicht,

    Vario Schwefeltoner MT 3 (50+50+900)

    Hasselblad 503CW, Distagon 4/40 mm

    Print auf Foma Retrobrom Sp 151

    Selentonung MT 1, 1+20, 45 sec

    Lichter etwas angebleicht,

    Vario Schwefeltoner MT 3 (50+50+900)

    Digitalaufnahme vom Originalabzug 40x50 cm, 2003

    Print auf Ilford MG Warmtone

    Hasselblad 503CW, Distagon 4/40 mm

    Print auf Foma Retrobrom Sp 151

    Selentonung MT 1, 1+20, 35 sec

    Lichter etwas angebleicht,

    Vario Schwefeltoner MT 3 (50+50+900)

    Interdiction de reproduire cette photo à des fins commerciales

    Motrice ABDe 2/4 1 de 1911, démolie en 1973

    La ligne du Biasca Acquarossa à été inaugurée en 1911 à l'écartement de 100cm, sa longueur était de 13,8 Kilomètres, elle a été supprimée le 29.09.1973.

    Late Gothic frescoes (dated ca. 1510), seen in the church San Carlo di Negrentino, Canton of Ticino, Switzerland.

    Thank you for your visits / comments / faves!

    Interdiction de reproduire cette photo à des fins commerciales

    Motrices ABDe 2/4 1 et 3 de 1911, la motrice ABDe 1 démolie en 1973, la motrice ABDe 3 a été exposée en gare d'Acquarossa quelques années, puis démolie.

    La ligne du Biasca Acquarossa à été inaugurée en 1911 à l'écartement de 100cm, sa longueur était de 13,8 Kilomètres, elle a été supprimée le 29.09.1973.

    Interdiction de reproduire cette photo à des fins commerciales

    Motrice ABe 4/4 4 vendue en 1973 au M.O.B. après fermeture de la ligne, démolie en 2019

    La ligne du Biasca Acquarossa à été inaugurée en 1911 à l'écartement de 100cm, sa longueur était de 13,8 Kilomètres, elle a été supprimée le 29.09.1973.

    Fresco from the 15th century, seen in the church San Carlo di Negrentino, Canton of Ticino, Switzerland.

    The fresco shows three of the twelve apostles.

    Thank you for your visits / comments / faves!

    Interdiction de reproduire cette photo à des fins commerciales

    Motrice ABe 4/4 4 ou 5 vendue au M.O.B. après fermeture de la ligne démolie en 2019

    La ligne du Biasca Acquarossa à été inaugurée en 1911 à l'écartement de 100cm, sa longueur était de 13,8 Kilomètres, elle a été supprimée le 29.09.1973.

    Interdiction de reproduire cette photo à des fins commerciales

    La ligne du Biasca Acquarossa à été inaugurée en 1911 à l'écartement de 100cm, sa longueur était de 13,8 Kilomètres, elle a été supprimée le 29.09.1973.

    Model the russian artist Z

    . cut my ivy, it is killing me

    The church "San Carlo di Negrentino", originally dedicated to S. Ambrogio Vecchio, is located isolated facing a cliff that opens onto a vast panorama. A mule track led here from the Gotthard Pass over the Narapass to the Blenio Valley and to Bellinzona led past here near a deep gorge.

    The two-aisled church is first mentioned in writing in 1214, but goes back to an earlier time. It was created in two construction phases. The original Romanesque apse hall from the 11th century was probably extended in the 13th century in the south by a similar, but narrower room with a smaller apse. At that time the campanile was built on the north side of the building.

    The large fresco over the door depicts Archangel Michael and the "Weighing of the Souls".

    The colours really were like this. No special effects -)

    The red colour might be some kinf of algae:

    Watermelon snow, also called snow algae, pink snow, red snow, or blood snow, is Chlamydomonas nivalis, a species of green algae containing a secondary red carotenoid pigment (astaxanthin) in addition to chlorophyll. Unlike most species of fresh-water algae, it is cryophilic (cold-loving) and thrives in freezing water.[1] Its specific epithet, nivalis, is from Latin and refers to snow.

    This type of snow is common during the summer in alpine and coastal polar regions worldwide, such as the Sierra Nevada of California. Here, at altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet (3,000–3,600 m), the temperature is cold throughout the year, and so the snow has lingered from winter storms. Compressing the snow by stepping on it or making snowballs leaves it looking red. Walking on watermelon snow often results in getting bright red soles and pinkish pant cuffs. (source: Wikipedia)

    Or maybe it has something to to with iron oxide, like at the Blood Falls:


    Etruscans and the Water

    The concept of water as principle for life was first coined by the Babylonians and later on passed to other civilizations. Water was considered a sacred element and the origin of every form of life. Thus, it was associated to feminine fertility the foetus grows in the water of the mother’s womb.
    The Etruscans had a profound spiritual relationship with the water. Their bound with water involved cults practised in forests near water springs, the construction of sacred altars, and worship toward trees, stones and animals. An example is the circle of stones…


    Etruscan Dancers, Acquarossa - History

    Bright and early, we all met at 8:30 and all 18 of us packed into a private bus, which happened to be even nicer than the ones back in Seattle. After an hour bus ride, which many took advantage of as naptime or time to drastically try to finish the readings, we arrived at the Etruscan Tombs. The Monterozzi necropolis is on a 133m high hill and is 4 miles from Tarquinia, the Etruscan capital. The idea of all the history in this place is incredible the Etruscans were the main inhabitants of Italy before even the Romans came.

    As we walked out of the bus, it was a complete change from the busy, loud and narrowed spaces of Rome. In every direction, there were just vast open spaces filled with rolling hills. The area was beautiful because there were barely any modern buildings. Our professors Lisa and Shawn bought our tickets in and then let us loose for an hour and a half. Imagine all of us running around trying to get the chance to see all the tombs. Although there were many tombs, there were only thirteen tombs that were open for viewing. Since these tombs are so precious, many precautions were taken to preserve them. Originally these tombs were just mounds with dromos leading to the doorway. However, later on, the tombs were sheltered by little houses called 鏊sette” to prevent damage from rain. Going down the narrow stairs of the casette, lead us to a glass window that looked into the actual tomb. The cramped place allowed only two people to view comfortably. Humidity and light exposure was controlled with the ceiled room that contained the glass window, which the public could view through. Light buttons on the side of the window allowed for light so we could see the amazing paintings on the walls inside the tombs. The experience of just sitting on the stairs and staring into the tomb was amazing. Some of the paintings were fairly intact and I personally thought it was breathtaking to be able to view firsthand these paintings and try to make my own inference of the Etruscan culture and try to see what D.H. Lawrence saw when he visited the place.

    After getting our postcards and souvenirs, we headed on out to the bus to go to the modern city of Tarquinia. We were given an hour and a half to wander the city. The city was much quieter and less crowded than Rome. Many wandered through the stores and even went to the edge of the walled city to enjoy the breathtaking view.

    After a nice gelato break, we went into the National Museum of Palazzo Vitelleschi, which contain many great Etruscan arts. The first floor contained many Etruscan sarcophagi. The second floor contained many potteries. Most of the potteries were, however, Greek in origin that were taken by the Etruscan and put in their tombs. This floor was my personal favorite because of the interesting drawings on the potteries. The third floor had a gorgeous view of the city and contained transferred Etruscan tombs and other objects found at the sites.

    After the long day out in the sun and walking around, the air conditioned bus ride back felt fantastic.

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