The Cippus of Perugia
The travertine cippus, or marker stone, was found in 1822 on the hill of San Marco, near the town of Perugia.
The base of the cippus is larger and rougher, and originally must have been embedded in the ground: only the smooth, finished part was exposed, with the exceptional Etruscan inscription.
Layout and alphabet
The Etruscan inscription is written in the alphabet used in northern inland Etruria, and particularly in Perugia, in the 3rd-2nd centuries BC. It reads from right to left, covering 24 lines on the front face and continuing for another 22 lines on the left side (following the right-to-left Etruscan writing system).
At least four paragraphs can be identified on the front face, with "breaks" after lines 8, 11 and 19.
Line 1 stands out by being centered and having larger letters.
Line 12, characterized on the right by a pause in the writing, is the completion of line 13: the stonecutter continued line 13 in line 12, shifting it toward the left, following a known customary expedient (seen in the inscriptions on the wrappings of the Mummy of Zagreb); he foresaw this to maintain the original unity of the sentence.
On the left side, line 9 has an error correction (anticipating of a letter of the next line: è abraded, then t at the head of the line, in anticipation of è at the head of line 16), a sign that the stonecutter had to copy a text but followed different rules than those used for writing the original document.
On the left side the words are separated by a dot, whereas on the front this seems to have been done only to emphasize parts of the text (peoples’ names, formulas, etc.). A symmetry in the placing of similar or assonant words suggest a poetry-like rhetorical structure.
The text is the transcription of an archive document: a legal deed between the two families of the Velthina (already known in Perugia) and the Afuna (from the Chiusi area) regarding the sharing or use of a property upon which there was a tomb belonging to the noble Velthinas.
Lines 1-2: these mention a judge or witness ([t]eurat) named Larth Rezu, in whose presence a pact (vachr) is made (ame) between the two families.
Line 5: contains the concept of "Etruscan" or "public" (rasnes), in connection with the source of the right to which reference is made.
Lines 5-6: the word "naper" before the numeral XII probably indicates a square measure.
Line 8: explicitly mentions the boundaries (tularu).
Lines 20-21: refer to the Velthina tomb (Velthinathuras thaura).
The inscription ends on the left side of the cippus with the expression "it is written" (zichuche), in ratification of the transcription of the pact.