This page deals with the VII region of Italy, bordered by the river Macra, the Appennine, the river Tiber and the Thyrrhenian sea. It includes the small peoples of Falisci and Capenates close to the Latium's border and the Etruscans proprie dicti. These have been subdivided here in a Southern Etruria and a Northern Etruria, divided by the Umbro river, plus the seven Etrurian Isles in the Tyrrhenian sea.
Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische W÷rterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.
The second name was spelled chaire in Etruscan, and should derive from an earlier *keis-ra, which explains also the variant form ceizra. An IE root that fits such a place-name is *geis-, an extension of *gei- 'to turn, bend'. But this requires a shift *g>k, which was one of the distinguishing traits of the "Pelasgian". The Etruscan form was likely an adaption (with *k>ch) of the pre-existing name.
Ciminus lac., Ciminius m., Ciminia silva
Sabate, Sabatinus lac.
The first name, Corythus, probably referred to the hill (Corythus mons) is very likely "Pelasgian" and have the same origin of Corinthus (Argolis), to which town the history of Corythus/Tarquinia has a close relationship. The name has been explained by Georgiev as "Pelasgian", from IE *gwer- 'mountain' at a O-grade, given the "Pelasgian" shifts *g>k, *t>th.
Falisci and Capenates
The successive name Clusium is spelled clevsi(n) in Etruscan. It can be compared with Cluviae (Samnium) and may be derived from an S-stem *cleu(e)s- of the IE root *k'leu- 'to hear'. Then, its origin could be a personal name, '(the town) of the famous'.
Ilva i., Aethale i.
In the place-names of the wide region of Etruria at least tree different linguistic strata can be recognized. In the souther coast especially, many place-names show the result of a consonant shift of the type *b,d,g>p,t,k, *bh,dh,gh>b,d,g maybe accompanied by *p,t,k>ph,th,kh not denoted by the Roman sources bacause there were no aspirated stops in Latin, apart from f that could have denoted ph. These are typical features of the "Pelasgian" or pre-Greek language, postulated by linguists like Georgiev to explain the toponymy of southern Greece. It is not clear whether this language was an A-language (i.e, if it had a replacing *o), but it is rather clear that, unlike Thracian and Daco-Misian, it was a centum language. The presence of "Pelasgian"-like names in southern Etruria corresponds to what reported by various classical sources. On this subject, a more detailed discussion will follow later.
According to the oldest of these sources, the Pelasgians are often confused with the Tyrrheanians. But the former came from Arcadia, the latter maybe from Lydia and probably later. According to Pittau, the Tyrrhenians sojourned in Sardinia, being the Sardian (the people of the Nuraghes), for centuries, before to land in Etruria and become the Etrurians. In this case, it is likely that in Etruria they simply adopted the place-names they found, probably adapting them in their language. Some simple rules of such an adaption process can be derived. To a Latin p,t,k may correspond either f,th,ch or p,t,k. The place-names showing the first spelling (Caere/cheizra, Sutrium/shuthri, Tarquinia/tarchna, Volci/velch) have been reconstructed from a "Pelasgian" shift, namely *b,d,g>p,t,k. The place-names showing the second spelling (Cortona/curtun, Clusium/clevsi, Telamon/tlamu, Tarquinia/tarchna, Capena/capna, etc.) have instead been reconstructed from original (IE) *p,t,k. It is not completely clear what this means. Anyway, the origins of the Etruscan language is far from being clear. It is even disputed now if it were really non-IE or if it was at least partly IE, related in this case to the Anatolian branch or even to the "Pelasgian" language itself. This could explain the apparent confusion made in the classical sources between the two people. For this reason, and also because very few Etruscan toponymical appellatives have reached us, here no Etruscan etymologies have been given for the place-names.
The inhabitants of inner Etruria at the arrival of the Tyrrhenians/Etruscans were Umbrians or, according to other sources, Sicani. If these Umbrians are the Tabulae Iguvinae ones, and were speaking an Eastern Italic language, various place-names of inner, central and northern Etruria can be explained, including the ones showing f's, or features like *ei>e, *gw>b. In addition, there is a clear Eastern Italic presence in the region of the Faliscans, who were close to the Sabines, but later strongly influenced by the Etruscans. They can be the last remnaint of the Eastern Italic branch west of the Tiber river.
As for the Sicani, it will be shown in a future page that the most ancient linguistic stratum of Sicily and Liguria shared an exclusive consonantic shift, with *bh,dh,gh>p,t,k. This "Ligurian" stratum could explain at least one place-name in northern Etruria, and is not in contrast with many others.
Last modified: July 11, 2002