The Etruscan defixiones: From Contexts to Texts
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Among the more than 13,000 Etruscan inscriptions that are known today, there are only a dozen texts that can be looked at as defixiones. The study of such artefacts is based first and primarily on contexts and extra-linguistic features, as our knowledge of the Etruscan language is too restricted to let us recognise a possible Etruscan cursing text as such. Moreover, only in a few cases do these inscriptions seem to resemble formulas of any kind: most of them are only lists of names. Despite all that, there are strong hints that the Etruscan cursing practice might not have been so different from the Greek and Roman ones, as for instance to be witnessed by the use of so-called 'voodoo dolls' and the choice of tombs as a preferred place to leave the inscribed leaden sheets, although this practice is not as widespread as in other places of the ancient Mediterranean.