Giacobbe Giusti, MONTE FALTERONA, Il lago degli idoli”




Testa votiva di uomo con barba





votive figure; Etruscan; 425BC-400BC; Chiusi; Falterona, Mount ,  British museum


Bronze votive statuette of a youth, probably once with an offering in his left hand. Etruscan 400BC-350BC.

votive figure; Etruscan; 400BC-350BC; Italy; Falterona, Mount , British museum


Bronze votive statuette of a warrior with a shield, wearing an Attic helmet and a scale cuirass. The statuette was cast whole, with the shield and helmet-crest made separately. The crest is shown attached in this image.  The stance reflects Greek Sculpture of the late 5th century BC, and the style is related to the bronzes of central and northern Etruria.

figure-fitting; Etruscan; 420BC-400BC; Italy; Falterona, Mount , British museum

Bronze figure of Herakles; corroded with separate fragments.

figure; Etruscan; Italy; Falterona, Mount , British museim

<em>Kouros</em><br />
   bronzo - h. 18 cm <br />
   Etruria, prov. Falterona - secondo quarto del V secolo a.C. <br />
   Parigi, Musée du Louvre

bronzo – h. 18 cm
Etruria, prov. Falterona – secondo quarto del V secolo a.C.
Parigi, Musée du Louvre

Parigi, Musée du Louvre 
 stipe materiale: bronzo
dimensioni: cm 14 

votiva del Falterona: offerente femminile
I bronzi degli Etruschi
Istituto Geografico De Agostini
Milano, 1985


“Nullus enim fons not sacer”
(Servius, ad Aen, 7, 84)
One day (in May 1838) In the woods
Monte Falterona a shepherdess saw emerge
on the shores of Lake of Ciliegeta (approximately
1,400 meters above sea level) the first piece of a
great archaeological discovery.
The shepherdess perhaps had not recognized
the bronze statue, which his hands had
extracted from the ground, Hercle (the Heracles – Hercules
classical mythology) but he understood that
it was a precious object.
Following this discovery it was organized in Stia
a society of “amateurs” local order
to organize further research.
The excavations led to the drying up
of the water and the discovery of
one of the richest in the world votive
Etruscan, he did take to the site
name “Lake of Idols”
(FORTUNA GIOVANNONI, 11 et seq .; DUCCI 2003
11 et seq.).
“In only one day on the banks it was
well found 335 bronzes and public
after other material is added, so as to
forming in a short time the exceptional
discovery of more than 600 pieces, including statues
Human complete, small heads, parts
anatomical (busts, eyes, arms, breasts,
legs, feet), animal figures, different
fibulas, some 1,000 pieces of aes rude (pieces
bronze irregular used as rudimentary
currency), a few pieces of aes signatum
(Pieces of cast bronze to form generally
ovoid with rough signs indicating the value) and
of aes grave (the very first coin form
round with figures that identify value
and origin) “, a coin, probably
Roman, portrayed with Janus and a temple,
“Over 2,000 arrowheads, several
fragments of iron weapons and pottery ”
(DUCCI 2003, 11).
These findings are not the flower
cap of some museum Tuscan.
Unfortunately, after being unnecessarily
Granducali offered Authority, the “members
researchers “got permission to sell
to third parties. The rich collection was sold in
block and cheaply. It was edited
an exhibition in December 1842 at
the German Archaeological Institute in Rome
and this is the last news we have of the
stipe complete.
At the British Museum the seven bronzes
from the Lake of Idols occupy a
place of honor; others are in the Louvre;
one in Baltimore and one bronze sheet is to
National Library in Paris (FORTUNA
GIOVANNONI, 16-18; DUCCI 2003, 13-15). The rest
dispersed who knows where, except, perhaps, those
which should be in stores
Hermitage in St Petersburg. The
recognition of the origin of some
finds it has been possible thanks to the descriptions
and drawings that had published the Micali
The revival of interest in the lake
Idols coincided with the emergence of
so-called “archeology of the cult” in which
recent years is attracting attention
scholars, from prehistoric to pre-classic.
“The custom, probably
background ritual or votive, to throw in the waters
metallic objects of prestige or a redemption
close to them is a phenomenon that,
at least as regards Europe, it seems
involve all prehistoric societies and
protostoriche. Recent studies, in fact, reveal
that this particular rite, linked to water
(Rivers, streams, lakes, swamps, bogs) has
lasted quite long, that age
Copper (3,400 BC) comes up to the second
Iron Age (the second half of the first millennium
BC) with a peak in the late Bronze Age
(XIII – the first half of the twelfth century
A.C..). More recent surveys show,
then, that the weapons (swords, daggers, tips
spear, ax) are almost exclusive during
the Bronze Age, while towards the end of
this period and in the Iron will
or make an appearance alongside other
objects, such as pins, knives, razors, helmets,
pruning hooks, rings, bronze and pottery. ”
“The memory of this ancient
rite remains, however, with the end
of society classic. To evoke the ties
with these practices and prehistoric
protostoriche are just two examples:
Breton myth of Excalibur, the magic sword
King Arthur (now at death), which must
be thrown in the water and returned to the
Lady of the Lake; or, coming to our
time, the coins thrown into the fountain
Trevi in ​​Rome, ‘… if late and playful’ (for
In the words of the philologist Walter Burkert)
‘Sacrifice for immersion …’ “(Swans
Sun, 47-48).
In the wake of the discovery of three more
bronzes very deteriorated, in 1972 it was decided
by the then Superintendent of Antiquities
Etruria a limited test excavation under the
direction of Francesco Nicosia (Profile of a
Valley, 52). But – as we learn from your site
the City of Stia – “the gods disturbed
They expressed their impatience with a
persistent rain, despite being full
August. ”
The recent project “Lake of Idols”
He foresaw the systematic excavation with
recovery of the material omitted from the excavations
nineteenth century, the study of the site, with analysis
pollen, stratigraphic and geomorphological:
work completed in September 2006. The results,
presented at a conference held in the Poppi
the end of the same month, have shown
the Lake of Idols appears to be the stipe
Votive that returned the highest number of
findings. E ‘provided for the restoration of the mirror
water of the lake, “to offer again
that image of the visitor magical place,
that the ancient Etruscans reached with
devotion and effort “(DUCCI 2003, 18, DUCCI
2004, 6-8). The results of the excavation
2003 conducted by Luca Fedeli were
presented in the exhibition “Sanctuaries in the Etruscans
Casentino “of 2004.
The pond, still in some papers
eighteenth century seems to indicate which source
Arno, although today is referred to as
“Capo d’Arno” the source which is about 500
meters from the site; “Some scholars was
It speculated that in ancient was also considered
the source of the Tiber, since the two rivers
still united through the dense network of canals
formed the Valdichiana “(DUCCI 2003, 16;
FORTUNA GIOVANNONI, 45-48: “Falterona, and Arno
Tiber “).
The sacredness of the Falterona not drift
only from the sources but, despite the
if not excessive height of the top
compared with those mountain (1,654 meters),
from the mountain of a dominant
wide area of ​​Tuscany and neighboring regions.
Visible from the Florentine plain as
Arezzo and from which you can gaze on
a large part of the Apennine Mountains and valleys
adjacent. Near he was to pass a
Apennine road linking Etruria
internal and Etruria Padana as bronzes
found were attributed to factories
Etruscan Po Valley area, as well as Orvieto,
Umbrian and Greek (FORTUNA GIOVANNONI, 31-
36, DUCCI 2003, 14-15). Still at the end of
VII sec. B.C. Casentino was the
offshoot’s northernmost territory
Etruscan, in direct contact with two of
people who lived long ago Italy
Central: the Ligurians in the north and the east of Umbria
(DUCCI 2003 4 THE BRIDGE 1999 Profile of a
“As for the name of the mountain in
Specifically, Devoto (in ‘Studies Etruscans’, XIII,
1939, p. 311 et seq.) It considers derived from a
plural Etruscan FALTER or faltar, (…)
adds that FALTER derives his
Once a root PAL-FAL, which took
expansions in -T (FALT-, in fact), in -AT
(PALAT-, from which ‘palatium’, the ancient name
Palatino) or -AD (FALAD-, from which
‘Falado’, adaptation of a voice Etruscan
meant ‘sky’ second Festus v. M.
Pallottino, ‘Witness the tongue Etruscae’,
1968 n. 831). Also according to the Devoto, the
PAL-root / Falzone had to indicate ‘a
round shape or a shape object
unspecified which has the function of cover ‘, from
where the more specific meaning of ‘time’,
‘Dome’. The Falterona would be that ‘a
set of domes’. ”
“It ‘should be noted, however, that the current form has a
Termination (-NA) of Etruscan own (not
attested in those that would phases
according to previous language
reconstruction of Devoto) can not be excluded
namely, that the etymology today is an adaptation
min a form with that Etruscan
termination. And ‘perhaps too simplistic
think of a compound name forever from
root Falzone, ‘dome’, ‘time (blue)’ and
Truna (etymology Etruscan according Hesychius
He corresponded to greek ARKE ‘=’ power ‘,
‘Principle’) that would mean Falterona
‘Principle of heaven’? “(Fortuna in FORTUNA
GIOVANNONI, 37 n. 2).
So also in the name of the Falterona
She recalls its ties with the sacred.
“The sacredness is
their places
dark and shadowy,
in the twilight
thought it collects
and tempers
unfold according
facets of
places elected and
forest, the kingdom of
darkness and silence,
It is a perfect place for
And if the desert,
hermitage of
holy, it is the place of the truth because there
shadows are, in equal measure the wood is
place the enigma of life, where the shadows
a teeming multiplicity transform
landscape in a constant metamorphosis and
where the soul escaped the constraints of time and
Space unfolds according to natural rhythms
in a kind of empathy with nature, in violation
codes of communication usual. ”
“The forest has since ancient place
sacred and initiation. In the Celtic tradition
Druids celebrate their rites in the forest
where some trees, considered sacred, defined
spaces reserved for ceremonies. Even among
Germans the oldest sanctuaries were
probably natural woodland. In
symbolism of the forest come together two
elements: on one hand the opening towards the
sky, home of the divine, the other clear,
definition of a protected and secret,
where the rites were held. The sacredness extended
then also the cult of the trees (…). ”
“The forest is also the place where it was
kept the primordial knowledge and place
the initiation tests “(Maresca, 7).
The sacred grove is a lucus, but with lucus
etymologically he was intended to “clear”.
As also noted on the border between Dumézil
the two meanings is not absolute and
probably the passage of the meanings is
It took place in a stadium of the ancient language
(Dumézil 1989, 46). Perhaps it is good to remember that
concepts sacrum, sanctum and religiosum
They are not interchangeable. “The same can res
be ‘sacred’ as consecrated to the gods,
‘Holy’ as subject to sanction of law,
‘Religious’ as to violate it are offended
the gods “(BRIDGE 2003).
The sacred groves, although recognized
property of a god given (or not), were
under certain conditions accessible to action
profane (economic exploitation). Before
cut a part of the forest, according to the
ancient prayers handed down by Cato, the
farmer sacrificed a porco1 turning to
1 It is worth mentioning that “a requirement for the
validity of the offer and of the ritual that the
victim manifested in some way its
consent. For this reason the animal could not
be conducted in force at the altar, as this would
It represented a very bad omen for the success of
sacrifice “(SINI 2001, 200).
god or goddess of the place “anyone” 2. And for
the gods of the woods you get to talk to
“Fauns” and “sylvan” (Etruscan Selvans) to
plural forms of the ancient Latin Italic
Lord of the Animals (BRIDGE 1998 162-
“Nullus lucus sine source, nullus fons
not sacer “reminds us Servius (ad Aen, 7, 84)
a natural association and sacredness
of one automatically switches to the other. But
what will be the divinity of the Lake of Idols? The
Roman calendar celebrates October 13
Fontinalia, devoted to natural sources in
which were thrown crowns and crowned the
wells, dedicated to Fons (Source) son of Janus
and Juturna (Juturna, Diuturna) (DEL PONTE
1998, 66, Dumézil 1977 339-340, Dumézil 1989
25-44, BEST 1981 14 SABBATUCCI, 29-30 and
328-329 [Which highlights, too, the link between
Fontinalia, festivity spring water, and meditrinalia,
October 11, one of the wine festivals, in their aspects
“Medicated”]). As part of Janus (I
I like to recall that the two-faced god is only
in the pantheon Latin Ianus, and in that
Etruscan Culsans), the “good owner” of the
Carmen Saliare, include sources, not
only as the father of the god-Fons and river
Tiber, for having saved Rome from
Sabine assailants doing gush before
them a hot spring them
frightened and routed them, but also because
patron of beginnings (BRIDGE 1992 and 1998
Dumézil 1977 D’ANNA).
Not taking into account these
characteristics, the currency found in Giano
pond might seem the result of
some random fact but also the spread
of hydronyms derived from the name of DIO3
It helps to prove otherwise.
Especially near the name “Mount
2 Cato, De agr. 139: Locum conlucare Roman Opinions more
sic oportet: pig piacolo facito, verba sic conceived:
“It deus, you goddess es quorum illud sacrum est, ut tibi ius
east hog piacolo illiusce sacred coercendi ergo
harumque rerum ergo, sive ego sive quis iussu meo
fecerit, uti id recte factum siet, eius rei te hoc ergo
pig piacolo immolating bonas preces precor uti sies
volens Propitius mihi, domo familiaeque meae
liberisque meis, harumce rerum ego Macte hoc porcum
piacolo immolating esto “(SINI in 1991, 114, n. 97).
3 Fatucchi A., Janus on the trail of the cult of the Sun in
Arezzo area, Arezzo S.A., cited in FORTUNA
GIOVANNONI 1989, 40 n. 5.
Gianni “vulgar corruption of the Latin” Mons
Iani “(Apparently, in fact, still in the nineteenth century cha
the location was called Monte di Giano,
although the popular mispronunciation beginning
to indicate its present name) making
conceivable “that even the patronage of
god involve the entire Monte and
considering the name of the township
casentinese the same way as the Latin oronimo
Falterona “(Profile of a valley, 105 FORTUNA
GIOVANNONI, 39-40 and relevant bibliography).
“Macrobius (1, 11) evoked, among
insights of the ancient world of investigators
archaic, one that brightly in -anscorgeva
the ‘heaven’ “recalls Semerano
referring to said component within the
names Culsans and Ianus (123). A Further
relationship between Janus and Falterona?
Excluding the currency with the two-faced god, the only
This deity is Hercules (the famous
bronze now in the British Museum and in another
now lost but played between designs
Micali, probably produced umbra)
suggesting that it was the tutelary deity
the sanctuary.
The cult of Hercules was widespread
in ancient Italy, he traveled back with
the oxen of Geryon or in search of
Garden of the Hesperides, among the various peoples of the
Saturnia Tellus (BRIDGE 2003
MASTROCINQUE 1994). “Elected deity
patron of spring water, and worshiped
as patron saint of travelers, shepherds and
merchants: the presence of images of
animals, cattle, sheep and poultry, reproduced in
miniaturization in place of the real,
suggests the protection required to
god from pastors who probably
with their flocks migrated along the pass
Apennine restaurant nearby. The remains of
numerous weapons, together with the representation
warriors and armed youths, recall
instead the request for protection by
military, which in large numbers must be
passed near the lake. Lastly, the presence
anatomical parts of the human body seems
addressing the request for a pardon or
votive offering to the god of a body part
where it could have happened a healing “(
DUCCI 2003, 16).
But Hercules was also the ancestor
“Common” of the Etruscans and Romans.
“Son of Hercules and Omphale was
Tirreno (Dion.Hal.I.28; Paus.II.21.3; Hygin., Fab.
274), or the king Tuscus (Fest., P.487 L .;
Paul.Fest., P. 486 L), founders of the Tirreni ”
(MASTROCINQUE 1993, 23). While according to
some traditions Ercole with the daughter of Fauno
begot Latino (MASTROCINQUE 1993 and 23-41
relevant bibliography). As he wrote
the scholar Giovanni Nanni Annio in bloom
humanism, Hercules would divinity
1989, 27-28, n. 17).
We hope to see again in the coming years
in Casentino, during a show in
programming, the “Idols” Falterona
dispersed throughout the world, at least those
identified, along with the latest discoveries.
Mario Enzo Migliori


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