The Etruscan term tular inscribed on certain stelae has been known for several centuries and is often translated as “border, limit”. It allows us to interpret as Etruscan landmarks a number of inscribed stones, dated between the 6th and 1st centuries BC. J.-C.
A RELIGIOUS ORIGIN
The common point between all these inscriptions comes from the same religious conception of the limitation of the territory, subject to beliefs and ancestral rituals specific to the Etruscan civilization. A text said to have been written by an Etruscan priest, Arruns Veltymnus, appearing in the collection of texts of Roman surveyors ( Gromatici veteres ) tells us that the practice of boundary marking has its roots in the prophecy of Vegoia and the interaction between the god Jupiter and humans:
“Now, when Jupiter reserved the land of Etruria for himself, he decided and ordered that the fields should be measured and the lands bounded. Knowing the greed of men as well as their greed for land, he willed that all things should be brought to an exact knowledge by means of terminals.
The rest of the text announces the disastrous events that will shake the eighth century of Etruscan civilization, following the displacement of the old boundaries: stricken with a curse, those who, out of greed, have violated the sacred limits, will be severely punished by the gods.
BOUNDARIES OF THE ETRUSCAN COUNTRY
A total of 18 terminals inscribed with the word tular have been discovered in bordering areas between the Etruscans and other peoples: north of Tuscany (Ligurians), in the Po plain (Greeks and Veneti), in Umbria (Umbrians) and even as far as Tunisia, near Carthage! The latter are more recent ( 1st century BC) and delimited the private properties of families of Etruscan emigrants who had fled Italy and the civil wars.
The landmarks were mainly used to set the limits of the territory of a city. One of them, discovered near Cortona, contains the term “rasnal”, which can be interpreted in the light of the testimony of Dionysius of Halicarnassus who affirmed that the name given to themselves by the Etruscans in their own language was “ Rasena ”. It would then be a marker delimiting a territory larger than that of a city, perhaps that of a league of several cities.
Etruscan cippus from Cortona “TULAR RASNAL”
Source of the photograph:
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden