Italic context

In the 8th century BC, these Italic speakers — Latins (in the west), Sabines (in the upper valley of the Tiber), Umbrians (in the north-east), Samnites (in the South), Oscans and others — shared the peninsula with two other major ethnic groups: the Etruscans in the North, and the Greeks in the south. The Etruscans (Etrusci or Tusci in Latin) were settled north of Rome in Etruria (modern northern Lazio, Tuscany and part of Umbria). They founded cities like Tarquinia, Veii and Volterra and deeply influenced Roman culture, as clearly shown by the Etruscan origin of some of the mythical Roman kings. The origins of the Etruscans are lost in prehistory. Historians have no literature, no texts of religion or philosophy; therefore much of what is known about this civilisation is derived from grave goods and tomb findings. The behaviour of the Etruscans has led to some confusion. Like Latin, Etruscan is inflected and Hellenised. Like the Indo-Europeans, the Etruscans were patrilineal and patriarchal. Like the Italics, they were war-like. The gladiatorial displays actually evolved out of Etruscan funerary customs. Future studies of Etruscan and more excavations in the region will no doubt clarify the origin of Rome and the Romans even more. The Greeks had founded many colonies in Southern Italy (that the Romans later called Magna Graecia), such as Cumae, Naples, Reggio Calabria, Crotone, Sybaris and Taranto, as well as in the eas

ern two-thirds of Sicily, between 750 and 550 BC. Umbrian is an extinct Italic language formerly spoken by the Umbri in the ancient Italian region of Umbria. Within the Italic languages it is closely related to the Oscan group and is therefore associated with it in the group of Osco-Umbrian languages. Since that classification was first formulated a number of other languages in ancient Italy were discovered to be more closely related to Umbrian. Therefore a group was devised to contain them, the Umbrian languages. Umbrian is known from about 30 inscriptions dated from the 7th through 1st centuries BC. The largest cache by far is the Iguvine Tablets, nine inscribed bronze tablets found in 1444 in an underground chamber at Gubbio (ancient Iguvium). Two have since disappeared. The remaining seven contain notes on the ceremonies and statutes for priests of the ancient pagan religion in the region. Sometimes they are called the Eugubian tablets after the medieval name of Iguvium/Eugubium. The tablets contain 4000-5000 words. Other minor inscriptions are from Todi, Assisi and Spoleto. [edit]Alphabet The Iguvine tablets were written in two alphabets. The older, the Umbrian alphabet, like other Old Italic alphabets, was derived from the Etruscan alphabet, and was written right-to-left. The newer was written in the Latin script. The texts are sometimes called Old Umbrian and New Umbrian. The differences are mainly orthographic.