10 Apr 2010

Erecting an Etruscan temple

I couldn't help but notice when I browse through Google's 3D Warehouse looking for interesting historical 3d models that there is little mention of Etruscan-related anything, let alone a sample temple. Madness, I say! How many millions of people online and not a single person inspired for something more on that topic? Egad, talking about global depression.

Oh well, no worries. If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself. The above is my first attempt at architectural (re)construction, an Etruscan temple. Don't worry, it'll get more ornate as time goes on. I'm doing this primarily for my own selfish reasons. I want to visualize a temple and understand its components, understand how Etruscan rituals might have been performed in it, what religious nicknacks it was filled with, what ornamentation would be appropriate to the period, building methods, etc. Making this 3d model is an awesome learning opportunity that forces me to ask deeper questions for myself that I may not have pondered until I undertook this project. Besides, I really find using the simple and free-to-use Sketchup program to be a very intuitive tool to use, quick and easy to share with the online world.

Below is the plan and pic (source: http://intranet.arc.miami.edu/rjohn/EarlyRome.htm) that I'm basing things on, something that might be useful to others that want to try this fun exercise out for themselves:


  1. Well, no Etruscan temple?. That won't do Google, that just won't do!.

    Don't forget the colours!. (On another cool blog ;) )


    I was quite amazed, first time I heard about that.

  2. I find the design of the three entrances (the middle is slightly higher than the two sideways entrances) rather interesting. We know that such "tripartite" design was common in the Myecean and Minoan era, in the Aegean region, but it was not necessarily replicated in later Greek temples.

  3. Higginsweorx: "Don't forget the colours!"

    I couldn't forget that. I hardly think Etruscans had a drab taste in colours. ;o) That comes later once I ironed everything else out.

    Interesting link, by the way. (Here is the link in clickable form for easy surfing.) It looks almost Babylonian. And here's our proud Trojan from a different angle.

  4. Bayndor: "I find the design of the three entrances (the middle is slightly higher than the two sideways entrances) rather interesting. We know that such 'tripartite' design was common in the Myecean and Minoan era, in the Aegean region, but it was not necessarily replicated in later Greek temples."

    Yes! I find it interesting from a mythological standpoint as well. I assume that this 3-cella temple is a certain kind of temple in honour of the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno & Menerva). In Etruscan religion, the Triad was composed of the gods Tinia, Uni and Menerva which can be traced right back to the Babylonian astrological triad of Shamash 'sun', Ishtar 'Venus' and Sin 'moon', which just so happen to be the three brightest bodies in the sky.

    Notice now the sun's quadriga (ie. chariot) on top of the roof representing the sun at zenith? Unfortunately while Nancy de Grummond carries on the biased Indo-Europeanist tradition by labeling Tinia as a "sky god" as if literally equivalent in all aspects to Roman Jupiter, the rest of us should realize that he's more accurately the god of the daytime sun. He sits in the center, of course, as head of the pantheon.

  5. Upon posting that, I just thought of another possible trinity, the trinity of Tinia himself into Tin Cilens, Tin Thufl and Tin Thneth, which is recorded on the Piacenza Liver.

  6. Glen, could you explain -or link to- what these three names mean?.

  7. Technically it's no secret if you peruse my online Etruscan dictionary (now with 4009 entries, yay!).

    But to save you the pain of searching, in a nutshell:

    Tin Thufl: "Sun of Oaths"
    Tin Cilens: "Sun of Darkness"
    Tin Thneth: "Thundering Sun"

  8. Ah, brilliant. That's your work, innit?. Well done.

    Very interesting....but that's in a nutshell alright.

    "Tin cilens"-> the "tin" element is the "sun" and "Cilens" yields "deity".

    I'm at a loss here...where's the "darkness" idea?.

  9. You misunderstand. Cilens doesn't *mean* 'deity', rather it is the *name* of a deity, literally meaning "darkness".

    Cilens was the Etruscan god of night and darkness. Use this search string: cil* (* = wildcard). When you enter that into my dictionary, it returns a list of related words like cilθ 'night, darkness'. You may find this latter word also by simply typing cilth or by using the special buttons for the Greek letters. I designed this prog for ease of use.

    Anyways, Tin Cilens is related in part to Roman Veiovis, sometimes known as the "Anti-Jove". But none of the published Etruscanists realize all this yet. Shhhhhh! ;o)

  10. On further thought, I need to definitely write a blog about the Etruscan solar trinity here.

  11. Thought as much.

    "Ease of use"...if you say so.

    I did understand "Cilens" to be a name though. But to go frolicking in this Etruscan language which is so different from Latin, Hebrew or Greek*...guess that's your point isn't it?. I did not know where to start. ;)

    I think you should definately write a blog about the Solar trinity. Very interesting.

    (*Languages I think I know a little of)

    So...Tin Cilens would be "Sun, shining in the Darkness", "Night-Sun">something like that?. Or does it have something to do with eclipses?.

  12. Higginsweorx: "'Ease of use'...if you say so."

    Unconstructive sarcasm. All commenters here are assumed to be adults and, as such, know exactly where to start: Google or the library. Nobody will coddle you here so get started. Once you find samples of Etruscan texts easily available online they may be copied and pasted en masse directly into my dictionary program. It is indeed quite easy to use but it won't butter your toast for you.

    "So...Tin Cilens would be 'Sun, shining in the Darkness' [...] Or does it have something to do with eclipses?."

    No, I suggest simply "Sun of Night" or "Sun of Darkness" but one other possible interpretation is to treat it as a hyphenated name "Tinia-Cilens". Regardless, the Roman equivalent is Veiovis (please read the link). He is the sun during the night as it travels in Aita, the underworld, shining over the dead before rising again in the morning. This is why he's sometimes called the Anti-Jove.