The whole known world of the old Etruscans is held inside this bronze design of a sheep’s liver.

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A design of the old Estruscan's well-known universe ahvenas (Atlas Obscura User) (Used with Permission)


The Palazzo Farnese is a 16th century palace-turned-museum in the northern Italian city the Piacenza. Inside is something 1,600 year older 보다 the royal residence itself: a bronze design of a sheep’s liver include the whole cosmic order well-known to the ancient Etruscans.

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The royal residence was built by the Duke and Duchess that Parma in about 1550, however shouldn’t be confused with the Palazzo Farnese in Rome (there you have the right to drop in on the French Embassy, but you won’t see an Etruscan sheep’s liver). It’s open to the general public for tourism of the rooms and furnishings, and they have actually some Botticelli and also other important paintings, some friezes and frescoes, and some ancient armor and also weaponry. However their prized possession is this tiny liver.

The Etruscans to be the people focused in the area now well-known as Tuscany, before their people was soaked up by the Romans. They day from around 800 BCE to around 300 BCE, and they had their own language, religion, and also view that the cosmos. They also practiced a form of “haruspicy,” the art of reading the future in pet entrails (goats and also sheep mostly), and they were specifically fond of reading livers.

This copper one, dug up in 1877 in a field near Piacenza, dates from about 200 BCE — a time the Etruscans were currently under roman rule. It’s thought to represent their see of the Earth, the sun and moon, and 16 heavenly bodies. Every of the areas then synchronizes to its pertinent god. The was likely used together a type of celestial map and crucial to interpreting occasions that taken place in every of the area — a kind of “how-to” because that would-be soothsayers. It’s fairly small, around five inches by 3 inches, however with a lot of of info packed in. From certain angles that looks favor a man with a long bulbous sleep winking in ~ you. Possibly he’s been a haruspicy skeptic.

Know before You Go

The bronze liver is on screen at the Palazzo Farnese in Piacenza, i beg your pardon is bout 45 mile southwest that Milan. The Palace/Museum is generally open from 9am to noon, and from 1pm to 3pm. There are totally free guided tourism from might to October, on Fridays at 11am and 4pm; Saturdays and also Sundays in ~ 10am, 11:30am, 3:30pm & 5pm. Ideal to check the website or call prior to going, to guarantee the days and times can not use changed.

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