III - II sec. a.C.
Made in a very soft, lead-rich bronze alloy to allow for easier inscription, the Tabula was hung for consultation by a riveted handle ending in a spheroid knob. The Tabula is an opistographic document, i.e. it is engraved on both sides with an inscription that covers the whole of the front face (recto) of the tablet with 32 lines of writing and, then, continues onto the backside (verso) with further 8 lines; the inscription was incised engraving each letter very carefully; the text was written using the alphabet employed in the Cortona area between the late 3rd and the 2nd century B.C. with the retrograde "e" occurring in the final or initial syllable to replace a former diphthong. Overall, the text consists of 40 lines and 206 word-forms (including 55 actual lexical units and 10 clitic forms such as pronouns, conjunctions and postpositions) which make it the third-longest Etruscan text ever found, the first and the second being the Liber Linteus and the Tabula Capuanarespectively. Two different hands were identified to have written the text: a primary scribe incised the first 26 lines in the recto and the whole of the verso whilst a secondary scribe possibly wrote the last 6 lines in the recto. The Tabula was displayed for some time in a public place (perhaps a sanctuary) and possibly suspended by its handle from a track that allowed it to be read from both sides. The missing piece only contained part of the list of names covering lines 24-32 of side A and the first line of side B and does not prevent the text from being fully understood. Based on the presence of the term zilath mechl raśnal, referring to the praetor of Cortona, i.e. the supreme magistrate having juridical functions, the text was unanimously identified by scholars as representing an important notarial act. The Tabula was recently interpreted by Prof. Mario Torelli as being divided into seven sections indentified by means of a paragraph sign in the form of a Z. The text records a conveyance of land made by public claim of ownership before the seller and the praetor that finally sanctioned the transaction (in iure cessio under Roman law). In the first section (side A, lines 1-7) valuable land (the Etruscan word vina = vineyard can be read) is offered for sale by Petru Scevaś, a man of humble origins (the gentile name petru comes from the same individual name of Umbrian origin) and transferred to the joint ownership of the Cusu, sons of Laris; the section possibly also records the size of the land and the consideration in kind paid by the cusu.