Jean MacIntosh Turfa (University of Pennsylvania Museum), “Etruscan lightning and Anatolian images”
Abstract: Etruscan divination by lightning and thunder was recognized by Roman scholars and priests as a unique portion of the disciplina etrusca that could be utilized by the Roman state cult. The iconographic symbol of these natural forces, the thunderbolt, was known in more than one form, encompassing the Greek-style keraunos (by mid-7th century BC) and another form resembling a trident with long shaft. The trident, whether invented independently in Italy or not, had deep roots in Near Eastern iconography, from Mesopotamia to the Levant, always as the attribute of a storm god such as Adad, Ninurta or Teshub. Finds of metal tridents, “bidents” or representations thereof show them as implements of cultic veneration across Anatolia and environs including Kültepe, Boghazköy, Toprakkale, Karmir Blur, Gordion and Tepe Sialkh, representing several different cultures. There, they were invariably connected with royalty, state cults, and urban social systems – as they were also in the communities of Etruria and Adriatic Italy.