Montovolo Retreat 14

At Montovolo with the poet Romano Romoli, between Archaeology and Glottology:

To find in the words and in the symbols our distant origins.

( Italian version)

By Graziano Baccolini

On 29 October 2005 the Montovolo Retreat welcomed a very special guest: Dr. Romano Romoli 1.  Romano is a merchant, poet , life-long friend and assiduous solicitor of the late Professor Giovanni Semerano2, an eminent philologist passed away only three months before our meeting on July 21 at the age of 94.  Many Italian newspapers paid homage to this great scholar with one famous philosopher , Massimo Cacciari, writing: "Giovanni Semerano represent an exceptional figure in Italian historical and philological culture." And Semerano indeed created a veritable Copernican Revolution in the field of linguistics.


 Two hundred years ago the German researcher Franz Bopp (Magonza 1791) built his great historical grammar of the Indo-European language based on the Sancritus.  At that stage neither the Sumerian (the Sumerians have invented cuneiform writing ) nor Akkadian base of all the Semitic languages had been discovered. Then, with the so called Indo-European language a big slice of civilisation was left out, the Near East Mediterranean civilisation


Giovanni Semerano, reassured and comforted by the discovery of Ebla - which proved the arrival of Mesopotamian  culture on the Mediterranean area - began to discover etymologies of fundamental names. Examples include: Europe (Erebu, earth of the sunset); Asia (Asu, to get out of Sun); Italy (Atalija, to become dark from the Sun); Rome (Ramu, to throw the foundations) and many other previously inexplicable Indo-European terms.  It seemed he had arrived upon a new truth!  Semerano’s monumental work 2a explains, with its extraordinary etymological dictionaries, that languages like the Greek, the Latin, Basque, the Etruscan deciphered never and also the Sancritus are daughters of that same Middle Eastern matrix, the Sumerian-Akkadian language&! The same root also applied our modern European languages such as English, German, Italian etc   


So how did Dr Romoli and Professor Semerano meet?  Briefly, after study at University in Historical Economic Sciences (under the guide of Armando Sapori - one of the biggest researchers of the Middle Ages) Romano’s interest soon broadened to ancient arts,  particularly to Archaeology and the Antique. After reading an article of Semerano’s ( Antichità Viva Ed. Edam year 1, N 9, 1962) it  confirmed to Romano how shortsight it was to pursue Archaeology without the aid of the language studies.  The idea of combining the two disciplines was inspiring to Romano.  Also, this idea of applying language studies to Archeology occured to  Romoli while he was researching Etruscan urns.  Romoli arranged a meeting with Giovanni Semerano explaining his admiration and interest for Archaeology and his research about etymology.  And that began a very strong “academic” and personal association.  Sharing the trauma of the November 4 floods in Florence, which violated their houses, made their bond even stronger.


For Semerano the meeting with famous scholars like Massimo Cacciari, Aldo Neppi Modana, Giovanni Garbini, Janvier Lovreglio Emanuele Severino was very important. Giovanni Pettinato was also a collaborator to the correction of the drafts of the first two tomes of Origins of European culture;  Giovanni Spadolini, commissioned to him the study to seek the etymology of Italia; Umberto Galimberti , with his beautiful articles and with the presentation to publisher Bruno Mondadori , allowed him to publisher his last books. Remember also the famous article of Sergio Frau 3 and those of so many others like Elemire Zolla.

I was first introduced to Prof. Giovanni Semerano’s work in 2002 when my colleague, an eminent professor of Pharmacology to the University of Urbino, advised me to read his book L'infinito un equivoco millenario”.  My colleague informed me that it would help support my iconological researches on some Etruscan symbols.  The research on these symbols caused me to conclude that Etruscans with an Anatolian-Mesopotamian origin was in disagreement with the one proposed by Pallottino.  Instead their origins are in accord with the philological studies of Giovanni Semerano.  I read his books and you will see his work quoted in my web articles where I reported my hypotheses on the origin of the Etruscan culture.


In 2004 a director of the Colorado asked me to make a documentary about  my searches on the Etruscans and in this documentary I have also mentioned to the philological studies of Giovanni Semerano. In 2005 the documentary 4 was acquired from a Canadian distributor, Canamedia, and it has begun to be proposed to the American and Canadian networks.  It was through this documentary with Semerano’s citations that Romano Romoli found me.  Some of his American friends watched the documentary summery and noted its synergy with Romano’s interests and works.  They informed Romano and he sought me out in the telephone book. From the first moment we spoke we felt as if we had known each other a long time!


So, on last October 29, a Saturday of fog at Bologna, but of splendid summer sun, almost unreal, at Montovolo, our Group, denominated Farf, welcomed Romano who told that Florence had also been unusually misty that morning! Around the table we shared pleasant conversation, our words found in the varied etymologies, discovered by Semerano, which had changed the dress during the millennia, their aboriginal meaning, their semantic value. These etymologies interested also my young friends present, even though they were not familiar with  Semerano’s books.

The simplest words of our conversation were transformed by Romano in Akkadian  or Sumerian  language 5 revived  after 5000 years!  For example we have known that amore , Latin amor , Greek imeroz, in Akkadian it was said amaru that meant, to contemplate with pleasure, to look fixedly, therefore it was a sentimental love. Love in German Liebe, in akkadian  libbu, that meant heart, intestine, therefore physical love, from this it also derives the term libido. Another interesting word is mano (hand in English) whose etymology would derive from the also akkadian term manu that meant to count but also to think, and therefore uomo (man) like to be thinking. The word woman derives from the word man  with the addition of wo:  in accadian  ummu (pronunciation uum ) means uterus - mother or uwwu ( pronunciation uuw ) that it means egg from which we can be translated that woman might mean originally or the man's matrix or man with the egg (or uterus). 

Another word that is crucial to my research is  colomba (dove) (Latin columbus)  that derives from the Akkadian  kallabu that means messenger: this confirmed many of my speculations on the symbology to date.  For those familiar with my research you will know 6 that two doves, one in front of the other, have been the point of departure of all my study on the lunette  of the portal of Montovolo.  I realized then that this symbol may means “traveller doves or pigeons” that brought the messages from an Oracular Center to another.  From this idea, at that time very hazardous, even if found in many ancient remains, Egyptians and Sumerians, begun even my iconological search that after around five years it brought me to understand that Montovolo had been one important Etruscan Oracular Center in the V century B.C. and probably “navel” of that culture. I also understood, analyzing a series of underestimated religious symbols, that the Etruscan culture  was a derivation of Anatolian-Mesopotamian culture7. In addition I have understood presumably that the arrival of the Etruscans  in Italy is began with small groups, already at the end of the Bronze Era, with the first Villanovians, uniting them to caravans that followed the course of the Danube and that they also owed to do the exchange of the traveller pigeons 7,8 and here is the use for our doves , the messengers.


 Now, in this Akkadian word Kallabu I find again another confirmation of my thesis and that tell us that in 3000 years B.C, ancient Sumerians used traveller doves as carriers of messages. Besides this comparison between symbols and primary language is a confirmation that the symbolism is the point of departure that hands to the first forms of language.  And also that when you reveal the first meanings of some symbols, you realise that subsequent centuries or millennia have often modified their meaning and we can reconstruct our very distant and very ancient origins


In our case our distant origins come from  the Near East, in the distant Mesopotamia of the Sumerians, as it would be obvious, but for ideological reasons and pretension of cultural and genetic superiority Europe, historians had excluded this hypothesis of oriental cultural origin. 


In the first afternoon the whole group has gone to admire the work of the sculptor Luigi Faggioli, that lives and carves his sculptures to 50 meters from the place of our Symposia or Retreats.  When people view these works for the first time, as Romano Romoli did that day, are fascinated by the innocence and natural simplicity of his sculptures. Almost unconsciously they reproduce, faces and smiles that echo Etruscan images. To close the day we ventured to the summit of Montovolo to expose to the group the oriental symbols engraved on the lunette of the Sanctuary.  And in that place, so evocative of very ancient times and very distant places we remained enamoured by our magical surrounds until sunset.



  From left : Luigi Faggioli, Graziano Baccolini and Romano Romoli in front of Faggioli's statue of the Goddess

To see other photos :



&)-The Akkadian cuneiform script was adapted from Sumerian cuneiform in about 2350 BC. At the same time, many Sumerian words were borrowed into Akkadian, and Sumerian logograms were given both Sumerian and Akkadian readings. The Akkadian script was used until about the 1st century AD and was adapted to write many other languages of Mesopotamia, including Babylonian and Assyrian.


1)     Roman Romoli, Fiori di Cardo, Nardini Editore,1991, Florence

This book of ninety poetries in the furrow of a new stilnovo, so defined by Vittorio Vittori, has as preface a flattering judgment of Mario Luzi, maximum contemporary poet, playwright, essayist, translator , disappeared recently.

Romano Romoli is graduated in Economic History, author of books and speaking five languages, he is often invited by varied European and American Universities to give lectures on the history of the fabrics in Florence. He is also manager and co-proprietor with his brother Romolo of the prestigious House of the Fabrics that is in Florence next to the Baptistery, in via de' Pecori 20-24. ( /) Visiting the House of the Fabrics seems of immersing in the past shines of Medieval and Renaissance Florence when the city swarmed of shops that sold refined wool or silk fabrics exported in the whole world. The Shop also has some angles with fabrics and objects of ancient weaving. In this ancient Shop (Bottega) there are often gathered studious and students from the whole world to also draw by Romano Romoli his immense experience in the field of the Fashion as another expression of creativeness in the varied centuries. As you see Romano Romoli has conjugated all his activities (poet, expert of languages, lecturer, lover of the art, of archaeology, of glottology and also merchant of fabrics ) that they can seem in contrast among them but they are instead expression of his great culture and his innate passion for the search of the Truth.

2) The principal books of Giovanni Semerano are:

a) Le Origini della Cultura Europea, 4 Volumi , Leo Olschki editore, Firenze , 1984-1994

b) L'infinito : un equivoco millenario , Bruno Mondatori, 2001

c) Il popolo che sconfisse la morte , Bruno Mondatori, 2003

d) La favola dell'indoeuropeo, Bruno Mondatori, 2005

 3) See this article of Sergio Frau, Coś la Terra comincị a parlare, La Repubblica, 29 Aprile 2000, or the article of Umberto Galimberti , Le peripezie di un Autore scomodo , La Repubblica , Luglio 2005 :



4) See the summary of this documentary (Stones and Secrets .. )

5) The etymologies of these words are reported in : Giovanni Semerano, Le Origini della Cultura Europea, Vol II, Dizionarii Etimologici (della lingua latina e di voci moderne), Olschki, Firenze ,1994 . Ristampa 2002. See also this web page "Etimologie di Giovanni Semerano" .and the CAD

6) G. Baccolini , Hera ,16,61, 2001, ibidem , 76, 2003.

7) G. Baccolini , Riflections on the Etruscan civilisation:

8) To understand the subject about traveller doves see


November 2005

Prof. Graziano Baccolini,

Università di Bologna, Dipartimento di Chimica Organica