The Etruscan language was spoken by close neighbours of the ancient Romans. It is known mainly from epigraphic records originating in the Tuscan area and dating from the 7th century BC to the first years of the Christian Era. There are some 10,000 of these inscriptions, mainly brief and repetitious epitaphs or dedicatory formulas, as well as votive or owner’s inscriptions on paintings in tombs and accompanying engraved figures on small artifacts such as metal mirrors. In 1964 two inscriptions on gold tablets, one in Phoenician and the other in Etruscan, were unearthed at Pyrgi.
The Etruscan alphabet developed from a Western variety of the Greek alphabet brought to Italy by Euboean Greeks.