I decided to title this entry in mocking tribute of those formulaic book titles such as Those Mysterious Etruscans by Agnes Carr Vaughn, The Mystery of the Tuscan Hills: A Travel Guide in Search of the Ancient Etruscans by Morris Weiss, Zacharie Mayani's La fin du mystère etrusque and all the numerous other books out there that quite purposely use the keyword "mystery" to earn a cheap buck or ratings. Even the New York Times is in on this subtle marketing scheme: Exploring the Etruscan Mystery. And of course I'm joining along by using "mystery" in this article to earn cheap blog ratings, hahahaha. We are all slaves to irony, aren't we?
Anyways, when drowning in the large ocean of passive entertainment and mystery, a lot of us are forgetting how refreshing it can be to seek out knowledgeable answers and to actively engage in learning and questioning. So as always, I want to bring up some questions I think are important that no one seems to be asking online yet.
I have an issue with this "mystery" of Sovana and its Etruscan origins. I'm still trying to track down any possible information on this, but there isn't much to go on from what I read. You see, if we take a cold, hard look at the city name *Sveama that is hypothesized to be the Etruscan version of Latin Suana (which in Italian is now known as Sovana), this name is in fact based on the attested personal name Pesna Arcmsnas Sveamaχ in the mural inscription TLE 298 of the Tomb of François (Vulci). Since Rumaχ and Velznaχ which are also mentioned in this tomb's inscriptions seem to mean "Roman" and "Volsinian" respectively, it seems reasonably secure that Sveamaχ is also based on an urbonym *Sveama.
But this is the thing. I'm trying to figure out exactly why Sovana is assumed as well as other problems. Is this the only possibility available? Or was it something that was assumed to be true in ad hoc fashion way back in the 19th century when linguistics was still a budding science? And how on earth do we explain the phonetics here? The pronunciation of a name like *Sveama should be something like /'swejəma/ (/j/ is regularly introduced within vowel sequences like ea because of what can be observed in spelling variations in other similar words). So how do we go from /'swejəma/ to Suana and how does an /m/ just interchange with /n/ like that? Do we really know who Pesna even was and what his significance is?
So far it's suspect and vague, although I'm not completely disbelieving of the claim... yet. However, there is little information on early Suana because, lo and behold, it's yet another convenient "mystery" according to experts in the field. I thought I would let you all in on that and maybe one of you might have an idea to share that I haven't considered.
 When experts place question marks next to the name and its connection to Sovana, I personally get uneasy about believing the claim blindly. (e.g. Halloway, The Archaeology of Early Rome and Latium (1994), p.6)
(Nov 22 2007) See Sovana, the town of Historical Fluff, apparently.