One of the more interesting
Venetic archeological items with writing on it, is one of the several
found near Padua, Italy. These items appear to be memorials, and
involved a relief image accompanied by a short sentence. Located
in the Museo Archeologico in Padova, it has been assumed these items
had a funerary purpose as they are identified as "stele funeraria".
However, this may be wrong. Translations of the texts by A.Pääbo
suggest that these are actually celerations of important events. For
example he translated text associated with one of them showing several
war chariots as celebrating the departure of an army into the
mountains. Funerary inscriptions, moreover, followed a typical formula,
that these do not follow.
The inscription appears to caption a relief image (see photo above)
showing what appears to be a peasant, handing a duck to a
distinguished-looking man with a cane. A.Pääbo argues that this image
depicts an important 'father', perhaps a religious man that was a
precendent for the tradition of "Pope" in subsequent Christianity. The
inscription around the image, when converted into Roman alphabet from
the Venetic alphabet reads (including the dots) pupone.i.e.gorako.i.e.kupetaris
The appearance of some of these words in other inscriptions allows us
to divide it into the following words pupone.i.
.e.go rako.i. .e.kupetaris
Most of the inscriptions have images and messages that seem to concern
horses and travel by horses, and which feature an expression
ECUPETARIS. It has been easy for linguists who assume the Venetic
language was in a Latin-like language, to see in this word, Latin equus
for horse. However, the word appears to be tacked onto the end, and to
be something analogous to 'bon voyage' or 'have a good journey'.
Of course, it can be assumed it wishes a good journey into heaven, but
A.Pääbo believes the images celebrate a major event in the lives of
this community. The accompanying text is like a caption.
The fact that the text appears to caption the relief image, opens doors
to deciphering the Venetic without assuming any linguistic affiliation.
So far, attempts to decipher Venetic inscriptions in general has been
unable to decipher them directly, but have projected a known language,
like Latin, Slavic, etc onto the inscriptions. Most results do not fit
well with the nature of the objects and context, according to
archeologists who are more attentive to the nature of the object and
the context in which it was found. Thus, for any archeologist in the
know, the past attempts to project Latin or some other language onto
the Venetic, are not believable.
In this case, the image and text departs from the others in lacking any
image of a horse. This tends to undermine assumptions that
ECUPETARIS contains the word for 'horse', and supports the other
assumption - that it is simply a 'good-bye' or 'bon voyage'. In that
case, the image can be interpreted that the community recieved a visit
from a distinguished religious or political leader, and the visit wa
celebrated with this relief image at the time of his departure. The
duck could be a symbolic statuette, but given the peasant has fish
hanging from his belt, it is likely a real duck. In ancient times it
was not unusual that someone heading out on a journey of several days
by cart would carry a chicken or duck in a cage, to serve as a meal
along the way.. .
The ideal in deciphering is to try to interpret the text directly from
the image and context instead of forcing a known language like Latin or
Slavic onto it.. Interpreting the text directly from the image, we can
presume that the text probably identifies the actors in the image - the
peasant giving the duck, the duck, and the elegant recipient. Because
words like PAPPA and today's POPE are almost universal to refer to a
'father' individual, it is believable to assume the first word pupone.i.
refers to the
distinguished elder in the image. It is also believable that the ending
- indicates the duck is being given 'to' this person - a dative or a
similar case ending indicating the act of giving 'to' the
'father'. Secondly it is most probable that the word for
'duck' is in the sentence too because the act of giving the duck is
central to the image. We can of course consider that the word may
be something like 'gift', so we need something more to narrow it down.
Assuming that perhaps the word for 'duck' survived in languages in the
northern Italy area, .they looked at some dictionaries of languages in
the area, and found Slovenian raca
for 'duck'. Becuse this word is not found in other Slavic languages, it
suggests ancient Veneti assimilated into Slovenians and kept some of
their own words, including rako
The word form also brings to mind English drake
. The word in the sentence is
and it is
assumed this is a partitive here, with the meaning 'a duck'.
That leaves two words - .e.go
of these words appear often in other inscriptions. The latter .e.kupetaris,
as already mentioned, appears often tagged onto the end, and appears
likely to mean something like 'bon voyage', 'happy journey'. The
also appears often.
It is most prominent as the initial word on obeliques marking
tombs. Traditionally scholars assumed .e.go meant the same as
'I', and so all
those tomb markers were translated as 'I am [rest of the inscription
assumed to be a proper name]' Of course, it is peculiar anywhere
in the world for a tomb marker to be inscribed as if the deceased is
identifying himself. Most tombstones in humankind refer to the deceased
entering an eternal sleep. Hence the common expression today of 'rest
in peace'. Even in early Christianity when Latin was used,
tombstones might have the Latin HIC
meaning ‘here rests’. If we turn to a Latin
dictionary we find that iaceo
is a solitary word there in the meanings given above. Most Latin words
in the similar form iaco-
concern arrogant boasting, hurling, throwing, etc. It follows that iaceo
is not Latin but borrowed,
possibly from Venetic itself. (the Veneti predated Rome).
Thus, it is obvious that the word .e.go meant 'rest, remain',
especially since its repetition at the start of a tombstone
inscription, is analogous to 'rest' as in 'rest in peace'
But does this mean the inscription is a tombstone? No. The idea of
'rest' is not exclusive to death. We can today say 'I am taking a
rest'. Or 'let the duck rest with the father'. And that is how we
interpret the .e.go
Thus the translation, developed directly from the object, is something
the Father, let remain the duck. Happy journey!
From this interpretation, it
seems the community said 'goodbye' to a distinguished political or
religious elder visting from afar, and gave him a duck for the journey.
It is possible that giving a departing visitor a duck was a standard
But who was this visiting elder? Where did he come from? Is it possible
that in pre-Roman times, centuries before the rise of Rome, there
existed religious institutions perhaps among the Etruscans, if not
Veneti, where the religious leader was known as 'Father' and the actual
word was PUPO. This is believable, since when Christianity arrived in
early Roman times, it did not create a new institution, but continued
existing institutions. Indeed, Christianity grew in Europe, from taking
over existing non-Christian institutions. Obviously the PUPO in the
image was not Christian, but could have been an earlier religion, even
Judaism. The Venetic inscriptions themselves reveal a worship of
the early mother goddess Rhea.