Writing in the West

15. Etruscan dish

Etruscan dish

Etruscan bowl, 2011-3831


The Etruscans were the first people in the Italic peninsula to learn to write. They adopted the Euboean Greek alphabet, and from them writing spread to other cultures of the Italic peninsula including the Romans.


One should never forget that one of the earliest functions of writing was to establish ownership. This pale earthenware Etruscan dish has its owner's name, Seinas, written on top in red. Whereas the Greeks and Romans wrote from left to right, the Etruscans wrote from right to left.