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FSU Etruscan expert announces historic discovery at ancient site

Tallahassee, Fla. -- Digging on a remote hilltop in Italy, a Florida State University classics professor and her students have unearthed artifacts that dramatically reshape our knowledge of the religious practices of an ancient people, the Etruscans.

"We are excavating a monumental Etruscan building evidently dating to the final years of Etruscan civilization," said Nancy Thomson de Grummond, the M. Lynette Thompson Professor of Classics at FSU and director of the university's archaeology programs in Italy. Within the building, de Grummond's team located in early June what appears to be a sacrificial pit and a sanctuary -- finds remarkable for the wealth of items they are yielding that appear to have been used in religious rituals.

Nearly every summer since 1983, de Grummond has taken groups of FSU students into Italy's Tuscany region to participate in archaeological digs at Cetamura del Chianti, a site once inhabited by the Etruscans and ancient Romans. In the final days of this year's program, de Grummond and her students unearthed what she calls "the most thrilling" find she has seen in 23 years at Cetamura.

She explained that the Etruscans, who once ruled most of the Italian peninsula, were conquered and absorbed by the Romans in the second and first centuries B.C.E. ("Before the Common Era"). Prior to that time, however, they were a highly advanced civilization that constructed roads, buildings and sewer systems and developed the first true cities in Europe. They also built large, complex religious sanctuaries -- which may have been the purpose served, in part, by the Cetamura structure.

"The building has a highly irregular plan, with stone foundations 3 or 4 feet thick," she said. "One wing of the building is about 60 feet long, flanking a space that has walls running at right angles. Some walls run on a diagonal to the grid, or are curved. There are paved areas alternating with beaten earth floors an
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Contact: Nancy Thomson de Grummond
ndegrumm@mailer.fsu.edu
850-644-0303
Florida State University
29-Jun-2006


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