The book VENETI (533 pages) is a contribution "to peaceful coexistence among the nations of Central Europe, all of whom, according to the authors, share to some degree in the cultural heritage of the Veneti."

Tareq Y. Ismael, University of Calgary, Alberta


The solving of the mystery of Venetic and Etruscan inscriptions with the help of the Slovene language places before us the still open question regarding the initial formation of Indo-European languages. But before we examine this problem, we must recognize that the Venetic and Etruscan languages have to be included in this group. The Etruscan has till now been denied this right.

How and why did Indo-European languages develop? We can say that they formed from a language widely distributed in central Europe. The reasons are unknown but we can draw some conclusions from the later development of Latin based languages; the internal and external causes creating these languages are known to us. We can infer that Indo-European languages also formed as a result of specific internal and external circumstances. The internal conditions of the time are unknown; however, we have some understanding of the extraordinary influence of the invasion and domination of a warring people from the area of the Caucasus in the Late Stone Age (Neolithic) between 3000 and 2000 B.C. Their Battle-Axe culture imposed itself on the predominantly agricultural indigenous peoples. These new circumstances demanded new, improved communications which meant new languages. The change first unfolded in Europe itself, and then because of migrations spread eastward to Persia and India. The dawning of the Indo-European era was the first major turning point in the historical development of Europe.

There is also the question of the original language in Europe which served as the base for the first Indo-European languages. Among these we must count the Venetic and the Illyrian. I would venture to say that it was the Proto-Slavic language. A number of substantiations are presented later in this book.

In the Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic), European people already had important material cultures with correspondingly well-developed languages. Among archaeological remains of the Vinca culture-the middle Danubian area during the 6th to 4th millenniums B.C.-the Etruscologist professor Dr. Radivoje Pesic found all letters of the Etruscan alphabet. Obviously their language was already relatively advanced. The Ice Man from the Tyrolean glacier, dating back to 3300 B.C., provides evidence of an important, orderly society existing in that area. Also in the excavations at Abensberg on the Danube in Bavaria there are strong indications of life in well organized settlements. The thousands of flintstone (Feuerstein) mines found there, dating from 5000 B.C., indicate a prosperous culture based on trade with this "steel of the Stone Age" and the production of a variety of tools.

From the symbiosis of the old indigenous cultures and the new Battle-Axe culture, new societies and new languages formed. Around 1500 B.C., the Unetice (Aunjetitz) culture was known in central Europe. Within it the Indo-European components dominated, including the Kurgan or Mound-grave burial. There was a change around 1300 B.C. when the famous Lusatian culture established itself. Within this culture ancient indigenous elements prevailed; it was here that cremation of the dead and the burial of ashes in urns originated. This burial custom marks the beginning of the Urnfield culture, which spread its religious message with great speed through much of Europe.

The important question at this point concerns the bearers of this culture. Who were they? And who were the first people in central Europe, or possibly all of Europe, who outgrew the narrow constraints of tribal community and developed a higher level of social organization? Until the Second World War researchers identified the people of the Urnfield culture as Proto-Illyrians. More recent archaeological and historical data have led them to the conclusion that these people were Proto-Veneti, since it is known that the Illyrians never occupied the region of central Europe.

Numerous settlements of Urnfield people dating from 1200 B.C. were found around Ljubljana, Slovenia. We may conclude that the Veneti moved from this area farther south to Italy, a hypothesis that corresponds with the findings of the Italian scholar, Giuseppe Sergi, who presented evidence that the Veneti came to Italy from the north in the Bronze Age. It was this group of Veneti, inhabiting the territory between the Alps and the upper Adriatic, who founded the Este culture. Through this culture we are today best able to discover their identity and through them the identity of their predecessors.

The Veneti were a Slavic people; that is, they were the earliest known Slavs in the new form of the Indo-European reality. As the Urnfield culture spread, so did the Venetic (Slavic) language. The most authentic components of the ancient Venetic language have been preserved by the Slovenes who are still living in the region of the Este culture.

The aim of this book is to present evidence that will lead to fundamental changes in the contemporary views of European history.

In the first part of this book Dr. Josko Savli presents a survey of the prehistory of central Europe. He then takes us on a journey through the remains of the Venetic culture and language, especially in the Alpine region and northern Italy between the Po River and the Alps. Hundreds of names of mountains, valleys, rivers, and villages still exist today in this region and witness the past presence of Veneti -- a nation living on in its descendants, the majority of whom have lost the Venetic language.

In the second part of the book, the mysteries of the Venetic and Etruscan inscriptions are unveiled. These inscriptions belong to the oldest monuments of written language in Europe. Scholars had not been able to decipher them until linguist-academician Matej Bor found in the Slovene language the key to their translation. Although the Venetic inscriptions are more than 2000 years removed from contemporary Slovene, the similarities between the two languages are such that these important cultural monuments can still be understood.

These surprising discoveries have attracted not only admiration and approval from scholars and laymen, but also sharp criticism from those who cannot accept the fact that they made wrong decisions in the area of historiography and archaeological legacy.

The third part of the book was written as an answer to these critics, with the goal of dispelling false theories which have until now surrounded the Veneti and their identity.

We would like to break the barrier of silence which surrounds the Venetic culture and to present the reader with an unobstructed view of the ancient past of Europe, which is to some degree still reflected in the Slovene nation.

The reader will notice that this book was written at a specific time in the history of the Slovenes-before their independence. This is the reason for some sharp polemics, provoked especially in connection with entrenched ideological and historical views. We think the importance of the data presented speaks for itself. We also think that the book transcends all ideological positions. Needless to say, every effort was made to scrupulously avoid nationalistic motives.

The principal purpose of this book is to determine those elements of material culture and historical events which link the nations of central Europe with their predecessors, the Veneti, regardless of the different languages involved.

We would like to contribute to mutual understanding and recognition among the nations of Europe, to strengthen peace and friendship, especially among the nations living in the Alpine region, once the cultural and national centre of the Veneti.

Ivan Tomazic
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