- Etruscan literacy is a classic case of restricted literacy, as defined by the anthropologist Jack Goody, where only a small percentage of society had access to the technology of writing (and reading). Until about the time of the Giglio shipwreck of the early sixth century BC and the explicit discovery of a writing tablet in a commercial context, the whole profile of inscriptions so far discovered was that of a ritual elite. Some ancient historians have countered that this observation is the product of the cultural practice of epigraphy (inscription writing) among the Etruscans and may have hidden a much more extensive range of literacy. The debate continues, but the general appearance of literacy at least for its first century is that it was a socially controlled phenomenon and not one that the relative ease of the alphabetic technology greatly facilitated. In subsequent centuries, there was a great profusion of graffiti and longer inscriptions, which suggest a much more widespread use, albeit still restricted to the more wealthy of society.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.
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