These laminated sheets of gold called the Pyrgi Gold Tablets are one of the oldest books in the world

Anita Durairaj

The Pyrgi Gold Tablets are a set of three golden plates that date to the beginning of the 5th century BC. The tablets were first discovered in 1964 during excavations at the ancient site of Pyrgi in Italy.

Although the tablets are individually displayed, book experts consider the three tablets to constitute one of the oldest surviving books in the world. There are holes around the edges of the tablets which indicate that they might have been bound together into a book.

From a linguistic point of view, the tablets are important because two of the tablets are written in the Etruscan language and the third is translated into Phoenician.

The Etruscan language was used by the ancient Etruscan civilization in Italy while the Phoenician language was used by the people who lived along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean (today this includes parts of modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and Israel). Phoenician is also a Canaanite language that is in the same group as the biblical language, Hebrew.

The tablets provide evidence of bilingual text as far back as the 5th century BC. They are also historically important because it indicates that the Phoenicians had influence in the Western Mediterranean region.

As for the writings on the tablets, they record the foundation of a temple and its dedication to an Etruscan goddess.

With the writings, researchers have been able to use the Phoenecian language to interpret and study the Etruscan language.

The tablets are currently preserved in the National Etruscan Museum in Rome, Italy.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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