The Iguvine Tablets, also known as the Eugubian Tablets or Eugubine Tables, are a series of seven bronze tablets from ancient Iguvium (modern Gubbio), Italy, written in the ancient Italic language Umbrian. The earliest tablets, written in the native Umbrian alphabet, were probably produced in the 3rd century BC, and the latest, written in the Latin alphabet, from the 1st century BC. The tablets contain religious inscriptions that memorialize the acts and rites of the Atiedian Brethren, a group of 12 priests of Jupiter with important municipal functions at Iguvium. The religious structure present in the tablets resembles that of the early stage of Roman religion, reflecting the Roman archaic triad and the group of gods more strictly related to Jupiter. Discovered in a farmer's field near Scheggia in the year 1444, they are currently housed in the Civic Museum of the Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio. The tablets are by far the longest and most important document of any of the Osco-Umbrian group of languages, which are closely related to Latin. The tablets shed light on the grammar of this ancient dead language, and also on the religious practices of the ancient peoples of Italy, including the archaic religion of the Romans. Parts of tablets VI and VII appear to be written in an accentual metre, similar to the Saturnian metre that is encountered in the earliest Latin poetry. The complete text, together with a translation into Latin, was published in London in 1863 by Francis Newman and 1931 in a book by Albrecht von Blumenthal. They were translated into English and published by James W. Poultney in 1959. Although the general meaning of the tablets is clear, there are still many obscure and debated points and issues. The main difficulty in understanding the text is the insufficient knowledge of the Umbrian vocabulary. These are the only documents of full details of sacred rituals from the ancient religions of Europe which have come down to us in an almost complete state. Moreover, their content deals with the rituals (sacrifices and prayers) addressed to the highest gods of the local community and to some extent may reflect the common religious beliefs and practices of the Italic peoples. Consequently, a great number of scholars have devoted their efforts to reading and deciphering them since their discovery. The modern Festival of Ceri, celebrated every year in Gubbio on May 15 in honor of Bishop Ubald or Ubaldo of Gubbio (1084–1160), shares certain features with the rites described in the text and so may be a survival of that ancient pre-Christian custom. It is also celebrated in Jessup, Pennsylvania, a town with a large number of immigrants from the Gubbio area, as Saint Ubaldo Day.
About the discovery of the Tablets there are two versions: the first one says that a farmer found them in a field near Scheggia in 1444. After his death, his son-in-law with his wife and his sister-in-law sold them to the city of Gubbio with a notarial deed on 25 August 1456 for two years' worth of farming rights. Since Scheggia was the site of the temple of Jupiter Apenninus, an important Umbrian sanctuary, it is conceivable that the plates were kept in the temple itself. The second version, born in the 17th century, states that the tablets were found in a basement of the Roman theater in Gubbio. However, given that all the actors involved in the sale of the tablets were natives of Scheggia, that the tradition of finding them in Scheggia has been attested in Scheggia itself since at least the early 1600s, and that the sources of the Gubbio find at the same time attested that the tablets were originally nine and that two of them, loaned to Venice, were never returned (which is patently false), it is likely that the version of the Gubbio find has a chauvinistic origin.
The content of the tablets concerns the religions and ceremonies that were celebrated at Iguvium, the town's religious organization and its boundaries.
The first attempt at deciphering their meaning was made by Bernardino Baldi in the beginning of the 17th century, and he was followed by Adriaan van Schrieck who believed he had got possession of the oldest monument of the Low German language, and interpreted accordingly. Olivieri recognized the name of Eugubium in one frequently recurring word. Louis Bourget pointed out that one of the tablets written in the Etruscan letters corresponded in the main with two written in Roman letters. Karl Otfried Müller, in his great work Die Etrusker, showed that in spite of the use of Etruscan letters the language of the inscriptions was totally different from the Etruscan language. Lepsius added greatly to the epigraphical criticism of the tablets, and Lassen and Grotefend made several successful attempts at interpretation. And finally Aufrecht and Kirchhoff, summing up the labors of their predecessors, and working according to strict scientific method, brought the interpretation of the tables to a degree of perfection that could hardly have been hoped for.
The tablets are engraved on bronze. Analysis of the external appearance of the supporting material has led scholars to conclude that only tablets V, VI and VII were meant to be exposed in public. The other ones were cast as an archive document. They are inscribed in Italic alphabet derived from Etruscan (T. I to Vb 8) and in Latin alphabet (T. Vb 9 onwards, VI, VII).
The study of the ductus (writing style), conducted by comparing the tablets with other inscriptions from the area of Central Italy, has allowed scholars to conclude that they date from no later than the end of the 3rd century for T. III and IV to the first half of the 1st century for the latest T. VI and VII.
Tablets I to V present their topic in a concise, matter of fact manner. Tablets VI and VII repeat the same subject of Tablet I in a much more detailed and diluted way, with apparent literary and encomiastic intentions and overtones. The content of the tablets is given below, in their relative order of antiquity as established by Newman on the authority of Aufrecht and Kirchhoff, which is identical to that recently indicated by A. Maggiani.
Sacrifice to Puemonos Popricos and Vesuna.
General prescriptions concerning the holding of the sacrifice, sacrifice of the ovis (lamb) to Puemonos and Vesuna near a sacred grove. Containing details on the choice of the ohtur (auctor, head, perhaps augur) of the ceremony, the dispositions of the ritual instruments, the ritual invocations for the safety of the city to Iove Patre and Puemonos, the distribution of the sacrificial meat and the libations.
Side a (b of Lepsius)
(Lacuna at the beginning of the text).
Sacrifice of an ox to Iove Patre, of a ram to Iovio? (Iuno according to Newman), of a lamb to Iovio (Iuno) and of a boar to Marte.
The Hondia (elements that pertain to ritual sacrifice to Hondus, an earth deity)
Preparations made by the arfertur: readying of the victim(s), grains, strues, fertum; incense or meal, wine; salt, mola; mandraculum (white linen used to wrap the officiant's hand), vases; pure water; ignition of the fire at the ara. Petronian Feast to Hontos Iovios: sacrifice to Hontos Iovios of puppies, offers of wine, libation, partition of the meats and their exposition on a board. Holding and turning of the ara with the hands and offer of wine. Division of the wine, the strues and ferctum, the meats among the participants. Burning (or inhumation) of the puppies at the ara.
Side b (a of Lepsius)
Sacrifice and feast of the Attidian Brotherhood:
Sacrifice of a pig and a ram to Iove at the time of the decuriae of month Semonius by the ten sets of families of each of the 12 regions. Sacred Epulum (feast) in honour of Iove Patre, started in town and profanated at the various fana with libations using the mandraculum.
Vocian (Buck: Lucian) Feast to Iupater:
Sacrifice of a calf to Iove Patre for the Vocian (Lucian?) gens of the Attidians. The sacrifice is conducted with the urfeta in one hand at the offering and the crencatro (augural implement comparable to the lituum but crossed (Newman), or toga wore slanted across the right shoulder (Buck)) in the right hand at the time of the slaughtering.
Six triplet sacrifices to the Grabovian triad and the minor triad:
After observing the birds before and the behind, three oxen are sacrificed to Iove Grabovius before (without) the Trebulana Gate. Behind (within) it three sows are sacrificed to Trebus Iovio.
Before the Tesenaca Gate three oxen are sacrificed to Marte Grabovie. Behind it three pigs are sacrificed to Fisus Sancius. A libation ensues.
Before the Vehiia Gate three white fronted oxen are sacrificed to Vofione Grabovie. Behind the Gate three ewe lambs are sacrificed to Tefre Iovie. After the profanation of the lambs, the rump is offered in expiation and a libation for the tota, local community, ensues, on the two sides separately starting with the right side. After the profanation of the rumps is over the backs shall be profanated.
Two more triplet sacrifices to Marte Hodie and Hondos Çerfios in atonement for the citadel:
At the Jovian grove after the shearing of sheep three male calves shall be sacrificed to Marte Hodie for the Iguvine people and tota.
At the Coreties (Quiritius or Curiatius) grove three male calves shall be sacrificed to Hontos Çerfios.
Henceforth the citadel will be expiated. If any anything vicious happened in the discharge of the rite the birds shall be observed, the rite shall be reinstated once again after returning to the Trebulana Gate.
Review of the city militia and expulsion (exterminatio) of the traditional enemies of Iguvium (Tadinates, Etruscans, Nahartes, Iapuzcoi) by the arfertur and the two prinovatus (augures or their attendants):
Four more triplet sacrifices:
Near the small fontains three red boars shall be sacrificed to Çerfos Martios.
On the Rubinian ager three she boars shall be sacrificed to Prestata Çerfia of Çerfos Martios. The sacred jugs, black and white, shall there be ordered and turned.
Beyond the Sahata (Sahata is probably the area considered within the pomerium, possibly marked by a stream) three she calves shall be sacrificed to Tursa Çerfia of Çerfios Martios.
The assignation of the place where to carry out the slaughter of the boars shall be decided according to the site upon which the officiant is watching, whether either behind on the Rubina or beyond on the Sahata.
Three days later the people shall be assembled and three heifers sacrificed below the Forum of Sehemania (Semonia) to Tursa Iovia at Acedonia. One of the heifers shall be consecrated by the arfertur and two by the prinovatus.
Duties of the arsfertur:
The arsfertur must provide whatever is essential for the ceremony and select the victims.
Fees to be levied for the performance of the rites.
Whenever the banquet of the brotherhood takes place, the fratreks or the cvestor must put to votes whether the banquet was properly arranged. If the majority of those present think it was not, a further vote must be taken to fix the penalty for the arsfertur.
Contributions to be made by two gentes to the brethren, and portions of flesh to be awarded them by the brethren on the decurial festival.
These two tablets repeat the content of tablet I while expanding it to include and expound the minutest details of the rituals.
VI Side a
Lustration of the arx
Introductory auspices: as in I the sacrifice is to be preceded by the taking of the auspices. Formulae passed between the augur and the arfertur (legum dictio); warning against noises, interruptions, meddling; boundaries of the augural templum; formulae of announcement of the auspices (conspectio, nuntiatio); prescriptions applying to the ensuing sacrifice concerning the military rod (pirsca arsmatia), the disposition of the pots and the fire.
1. Sacrifice of three oxen to Iove Grabovios before the Trebulan gate. An opening prayer is followed by three long prayers in identical words for each of the three offerings to the three Grabovian gods and these by a general prayer in conclusion. Then follow prayers especially devoted to the rites connected with the sacrifice.
2. Sacrifice of three pregnant sows to Trebos Iovios behind the Trebulan gate: the prayers used in the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
3. Sacrifice of three oxen to Marte Grabovios before the Tesenaca gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
4. Sacrifice of three suckling pigs to Fisus Sancius behind the Tesenaca gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated. Then an offering of cakes accompanied by specific prayers and ceremonies ensues (involving the use of the mandraculum, white linen cloth wrapping the right hand of the officiant): special attention is given to Fisus Sancius, patron of the citadel (ocre Fisia).
5. Sacrifice of three oxen with a white forehead (calersuf) to Vofionos Grabovios before the Vehia gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
6. Sacrifice of three she lambs to Tefer Iovios behind the Vehia gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated. Then supplementary offerings follow, thereafter prayers and accompanying rites with vases on both sides of a trench.
7. Sacrifice of three bull calves to Marte Horse at the Iovian grove. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
8. Sacrifice of other three bull calves to Hondos Çerfios at the Coredian grove. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
Rites for the lustration of the poplo (people, i. e. city militia) and execration of the enemies:
The auspices are to be taken in the same way as for the lustration of the arx. Holding the perca arsmatia (ritual staff) and the cringatro the arsfertur lights the fire then with the two assistants (prinovatus), who hold rods of pomegranate wood, marches with the victims along the Augural Way to the district of Acedonia. Proclamation is made expelling the alien enemies. The Iguvines are ordered to form in companies. The arsfertur and the assistants march about them thrice with the victims and the fire. At the end a prayer is made invoking misfortune upon the aliens and blessings upon the Iguvinians.
VII Side a
Sacrifice of three boars to Çerfios Martios at the Fontuli, accompanied by the prayers used at the Trebulan gate.
Sacrifice of three sows to Praestita Çerfia at Rubinia, with the prayers used at the Trebulan gate. Ceremonies with the black vessels and the white vessels, the former meant to bring misfortune to the aliens, the latter to avert it from the Iguvinians. Offering to Fisovius Sancius with the prayersw used behind the Tesenaca gate.
Sacrifice of three female calves beyond the Sahata to Tursa Çerfia of the Çerfios of Marte. The prayers used at the Trebulan gate are to be repeated. The profanation of the offerings must take place where the nuntiatio happened: either in Rubinia or beyond the Sahata.
After three days the holder of the perca arsmatia and the two assistants pray silently for the execration of the enemies and the safety of Iguvium from the shrine of Tursa. Then heifers are set free below the Forum of Sehemenia: the first person who has caught any of the first three shall sacrifice them to Tursa Iovia at Aceronia for Iguvium. The prayers and rituals (offer of cereals, strues, fertum, persea) used at the Trebulan gate are to be repeated.
Obligations of the fratrexs and entity of the fine he must pay in case of omissions (300 asses).
The triad of the Grabovii is the highest group of deities of the Iguvian pantheon and looks to be strictly aligned with the archaic triad of Roman religion. The epithet Grabovius seems to be related to Etruscan crapis, ceremonial litter, which might derive from a word meaning oakwood.
The triad is composed by Iove or Iove Patre, Marte and Vofionos. The identity of the last has been understood as corresponding to Roman gods Quirinus or Liber, the former from an IE root *leudh- meaning people, the latter either directly from the Italic theonym Loifer or through the intermediary of the Italic or Etruscan interpretation of Greek god (Dionysos) Eleutheros, recorded also in the Etruscan theonym Tin Luth (=Iuppiter Liber) of the Piacenza Liver.
The gods of the triad of the Grabovii receive in sacrifice three oxen (buf) outside the three town gates (Preveres Treblanes, Tesenaces, Vehiies before the Trebulan, Tesenacan, Vehiian Gate). Those to be offered to Vofionos are qualified as calersu, probably correspondent in meaning to Latin callidus, with a white forehead.
The gods of this triad receive sacrifices in correspondence with those of the major one but these gods are honoured within the town gates. Trebos Iovios corresponds to Iove Grabovios, Fisus Sancius to Marte Grabovios and Tefer Iovios to Vofionos Grabovios. They received sacrifices of three pregnant sows, three suckling pigs and three ewe lambs respectively. Only the identity of the second one is known with any degree of certainty from attestations of his existence in Rome and elsewhere in Italy. In Rome he is known as Semo Sancus Dius Fidius. It is odd that he is here associated with Mars while his association with Jupiter would seem more well grounded theologically. The topic has been the object of a study by Dominique Briquel: he opines the reason should lie in the repressive and henceforth military connotation of the notion of divine sanction of the law. This aspect is particularly relevant as to the divine sanction of the town wall, a fact which is of primary concern in the content of the Tablets.
Trebos in Trebos Iovios is usually understood as corresponding in meaning to Latin trabs, ridge of the roof. Tefer of Tefer Iovios is often explained as burner, from the IE root *tep haet. This interpretation though is very debated.
Both Benveniste and Dumézil have argued that the Iguvine triads are just another testimony of their three functional hypothesis of IE religion. In particular the sacrificial offerings roughly correspond to those of Rome in their three functional significance and the sixfold invocations of VIa 30 and 39, VIb 13 and 32 (nerf, arsmo; veiro, peiquo; castruo, fri: princes, priests; men, cattle; fields, land produce) show a direct connection to the sovereign, military and productive activities.
Many scholars, from Bücheler to Prosdocimi, opine this deity is an underworld god of agricultural fertility and plenty on the grounds of the sacrifice of puppies he receives at his festival. Prosdocimi calls it the intermestruae cereales: the declaration of the dog is set at the climax of the feriae. Jörg Rüpke remarks the association of Hondos with Jupiter is one among the numerous in the tablets, in which a complex multilevel and hierarchic structure of relationship among theonyms is envisaged. This phenomenon would put the god into a sort of host–guest relationship with the one given in the attributive. In the case of Hondos this feature is apparent also in the fact that his cults at the Hondia festival take place in the Jovian Grove but those at the lustration of the citadel (when the god bears the epithet of Çerfios) in the Coredian Grove.
It has been suggested that the theonym Hunte Çefi (Honde Serfi), referring to a chthonic god, derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *ǵʰōm-to 'earth', a stem attested in several branches.
These deities are invoked and receive sacrifices aimed at obtaining their favour for the protection of the arx itself, of the community and of the fields in connexion to the lustration rites of the Iguvian citadel at different locations of augural relevance.
The rites concerning the Praestota and the two Tursae involve a complex of libations aimed at obtaining a twofold action: the safety for the Iguvine community and the offsetting and expulsion of its traditional enemies.
The debated points are few as far as the Praestota and Tursa are concerned. The two theonyms correspond to the Latin Iuppiter Praestes, Iuppiter Praestitus, Iuppiter Praestabilis and the Lares Praestites. Tursa corresponds to god Terminus, being the deity that represents the boundaries of the city at different locations of augural relevance: these are without and within the city for Tursa Çerfia and Tursa Iovia respectively (TI I b; VII a). Such a meaning is connected to the Umbrian word for border, tuder: Tursa is written Tuda in the Etruscan tablets, the intervocalic d being pronounced as a weak rs (i.e.: ḍ). Dumézil on the other hand, on the grounds of the function of Tursa, a deity whose action is to scare, inspire terror into the enemies, opines the theonym derives from a verbal root equivalent to Latin terreo, I scare (interpreting accordingly tursitu, tremitu in VIb 60).
There is no agreement among scholars on the meaning of the epithet Çerfios and as to whether this is also a theonym, i. e. Çerfos Martios is a god different from Mars or not. An inscription from Corfinium reads: Çerfom sacaracicer Semunes sua[d, "priest of the Çerfi and the Semones", placing side by side the two categories of entities, the çerfi and the semunes. Çerfos is most times associated to IE root *ker(s) and Latin theonyms Ceres and Cerus. This view though might create interpretative problems concerning the theology of Mars and of the two deities who in Rome are associated with the sphere of law and defence, i. e. gods Jupiter and Semo Sancus Dius Fidius. Georg Wissowa and Dumézil both underline that the derivation from root *ker(s) is not certain: Umbrian group -rf could have a different origin than -rs.
Marte and Hondos appear also under these epithets. Here too the only certain indication is from Roman Heres (or Here) Martea, connected with heres, he who inherits and also dominus, the position of master of the house. Some scholars though connect the epithet to Latin adjective fodius, he who destroys. The two gods both receive sacrifices of male calves in the rites for the lustration of the citadel at the Iovian and Coredian groves respectively; theirs are the last in the series of sacrifices after the two triads and before the execration of the enemies.
God Hondos receives the epithet Iovios in II and that of Çerfios in VI. This fact raises the question of whether these epithets were used alternatively in connexion with local or temporal constraints. Another similar instance is that of Tursa Çerfia and Tursa Iovia, who are found without and within the pomerium respectively.
This divine couple appears only in tablets III and IV, the most ancient ones. Puemonos's name seems to be related with Roman goddess Pomona; moreover both the name itself and the epithet Popricos (Publicus) hint towards a universal fertility god, similar to Latin god Liber. Vesuna is also found on a coin from Marsian territory.
O. de Cazanove observes Iguvinian theonyms appear to be compound formations of two, three and four terms: they may consist of a substantive plus an epithet (e. g. Hondos Iovios, Tursa Iovia, Puemonos Podpricos), of a substantive plus a possessive phrase plus epithet (e. g. Vesuna of Puemonos Podpricos) and of a substantive plus epithet plus possessive phrase plus epithet (e. g. Prestota Çerfia of Çerfios Martios, Tursa Çerfia of Çerfios Martios). In his view this situation is comparable to that of Rome where are recorded purely functional deities in the pontifical books. These divinities were invoked in the prayers according to the Roman rite as mentioned by Gellius: "Lua Saturni, Salacia Neptuni, Hora Quirini, Virites Quirini, Maia Vulcani, Heries Iunonis, Moles Martis, Nerio Martis". These entities would be a concrete representation of the powers of their respective god.
At Iguvium though the situation looks more complex and less fixed as Tursa and Hondos are alternatively Çerfian and Martian and Çerfian and Iovian respectively.
Some other deities are known just because they are mentioned occasionally in specifying the limits of augural observation (included those of the town). These theonyms are for the most part known in Roman religion. They are Tursa and (possibly) Hulos in IV 17 and 19 respectively, Vestisios (Libasius) apparently god of libations (possibly related to Latin Vesta  ), Hoios (cf. Latin Holus, Helus, Roman grove of Helernus in Ovid's Fasti II 67-68) god of vegetation and Padella (cf. Roman goddess Patella), goddess of opening sheaves in VIa 14. Possibly adjective deueia of Asa Deueia (VIa 9, 10) implies a cult of the sky under the name Dius, Dia, similar to that of Dea Dia outside Rome (Ancellotti & Cerri).
The Attidian brethren had an arsfertur (literally the Umbrian equivalent of Latin adfertor, i. e. "he who carries something to somewhere", clearly referring to a role in the ceremonies, holder of the pirca arsmatia, ceremonial rod). Other mentioned offices include the fratrecs interpreted as curator arcae, the cvestor and the prinovatus, probably agrimensors, attendants of the person who takes the auspices. An ohtor (auctor) is mentioned in T. III and IV: the term denotes the person responsible for the ceremony.
The tablets record different sets of rites held on different festive occasions: the main and recorded in greatest detail one is the annual lustration of the citadel (ocre, Latin arx) of Iguvium (Tablets I, VI and VII). This rite includes sacrifices to the Grabovian (major) triad and the minor one near the gates of the town, sacrifices to Marte Hodie and Hondos Çerfios at the two sacred groves of Iove and Coredios (interpreted as Quiritius or Curiatius) respectively, the lustral review of the people of Iguvium in arms, i. e. the city militia, the execration and ritual expulsion (exterminatio) of the traditional enemies of Iguvium and final sacrifices to Çerfios Marti(os), the Praestita Çerfia and the two Tursae, Çerfia and Iovia, at various locations without and within the pomerium. Tablets VI and VII relate the ritual actions such as circumambulations, libations, kneelings and dance in minute detail recording all the prayers and the other augural formulae. The older tablet I gives a more concise record.
The ritual triple (three time) circumambulation with fire and the victims about the city militia looks parallel to the Roman ritual performed by king Tullius as described by Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
The most complex ceremonies are those concerning Tefer Iovios and Fisus Sancius. A summary is appended below.
Tefer Iovios (VIb 22-42):
Fisus Sancius (here appealed to also as Fisovius = Fiducius) (VIb 3-18):
The opening lines (1-14) of Tablet II records various sacrifices to Iove, Iovio (or Iovia? Newman: Iuno) and Marte to be held in atonement of possible unknown ritual faults:
the Hondia festivals on which occasion dogs were offered in sacrifice to Hondos Iovios--apparently "Earthly Zeus" or "CHTHONIC Zeus"; the feast to Hondos Iovios held by the gens Petronia (these last two festivals might in fact be one); the sacrifice and feast of the sodalitas of the Fratres Atiedii on which rams and pigs were sacrificed to Iove by the ten sets of families of the twelfth pomperias, districts of Iguvium; finally the sacrifice of a calf at the feast of Iove Patre held by the gens Vocia (Lucia). The tablet might be fragmentary, i. e. record only the final part of a ritual at its beginning.
Here is the summary of the ceremonies at the festival of Hondos with dog sacrifice (IIa 15-44) (oddly, in the following translation, katlu is translated both "kid" and "dog"):
(the rite, proper, seems to begin here:)
Sacrifices of dogs were not common among ancient Italic people. Instances in Rome include the Lupercalia and a parallel may be found in the Augurium Canarium and the Robigalia, both held in late Spring for the propitiation of a good harvest and for the preservation of the grains from mildew respectively. According to the explanation given in Ovid by the flamen Quirinalis the dog was sacrificed because at the time in which the grains in the ears are in danger for the heat and draught the sun enters the constellation of the Dog: this explanation is erroneous. Another ritual aimed at protecting corn in danger from fires concerned foxes which were set afire in the Circus Maximus on the last day of the Cerialia (Cerealia). Finally dogs were crucified on the Capitol at the beginning of August, time of the canicula to avert the rabies contagion or lessen their barking which disturbed sick people.
The hymn has a fairly clear structure, with the central offering of the dog sacrifice and following prayer enveloped in sequence by offerings of strues and fertum, followed by two parallel offerings and prayers, and more distantly preceded and followed by two tripodia. Activities both before and after the formal period of the rite are specified. Prayers and libations are repetitively offered throughout, while consecrating and offering (presumably this involves lighting) of the incense is prominent near the beginning and ritual washing toward the end of the ceremony.
Tablet III and IV record in minute detail the rituals of the festival of Puemonos Popricos and Vesuna at a sacred grove outside the town. Recently Michael Weiss has advanced the view that this was a new year ritual on the grounds of comparative material.
Latin sources concerning the cooking of the viscera underline the difference between the Etruscan and Roman customs distinguishing the exta aulicocta boiled in the olla extaris before the offering to the god, from the Tuscan exta roasted in veru and partly eaten during the sacrificial rite. At Iguvium the description of some sacrificial rites documents both the use of spits for the viscera and the presence of prosiciae displayed on the table of the offerings beside the fire and perhaps consecrated and burnt to the gods.
Augural practices are presented in the tablets, most notably in the last two ones. They include the praeire verba, i.e. the uttering of the words to be repeated by the arfertur, the legum dictio, the rules for the taking of the auspices such as silence (silentium) and the avoidance of other incidents, the definition of the boundaries of the augural templum, the nuntiatio, announcement of the appearance of the expected signs from birds, the circumambulation of the army with fire.
Tablet VIa begins with an augural song. Here below is the text (VIa 1-5) with Poultney's translation of the passage:
Este persclo aveis asseriater eneto:
This ceremony [the adfertor--officiating priest] shall commence by observing the birds:
Rules for the observation of bird signs are given in VIa 15-18: below a certain boundary line (hondra esto tudero VIa 15) defined previously, the augur must see and hear the verse of a parfa (parrha) and a crow; above that line (supu) he must see and hear a woodpecker peiqu and a magpie peica.
Aveis asseriates Ia 1; aves asseriates VIa 1: avibus observatis, "having observed the birds."
persnaies, pusnaies Ia 1: antici, postici, "(in the part) before and behind.
dersua VIa 1: dextera, "right hand, prosperous." The right hand was apparently seen as auspicious in Umbria as in Greece. Newman (Appendix II) cites the position of the augur in the inauguration of Numa, in which he faced east while Numa faced south. Right and left have both an auspicious and inauspicious meaning in Latin. One problem with this enticing analysis is that there is a distinct and separate word that means 'right (hand)' in Umbrian: destre/testre which is in the expected phonological form for a cognate of Latin dexter/dextra. Poultney suggests a possible relationship of Umbrian dersua to Latin dorsum 'back' since when oriented toward the rising sun, the west is to ones back. 
merstu VIa 1: iustissimus, "rightest, most correct, propitious," superlative of mersos. Adjective mersos, from meḍos (literally medius), means iustus (cf. Oscan meddix: supreme magistrate, iudex). Both words in Latin and Osco-Umbrian have a broader meaning than just, lawful: they may mean augurally correct, favourable, in agreement with the divine forces. But here again, the Umbrian word that fits this analysis: mers "law, right, custom" which is likely from the PIE root *med- as in Greek medomai "to think on". Also, Umbrian formed superlatives with -emo-/-temo-, not with -sto. The context seems to call for a direction that contrasts with destrua above. As Poultney points out, the most probable source here is PIE *merk- "spark" with cognates in Germanic meaning 'morning' (including that word itself). The semantic shift for words for "morning/sunrise" to words for "east" is, of course, ubiquitous. 
anglaf VIa 1: oscines, "giving signs through their voice." < *an-kla:-, compare Latin cla-mo "I cry (out)", cla-rus "famous"
stiplo, anstiplatu VIa 2, 3: stipulare, leges dicere, "stipulate."
mersta auei, mersta angla, esona VIa 3: "most propitious birds (auspices), most propitious singing, divine [signs]" or more likely "birds in the east, messengers in the east, divine [signs]" The last of these may refer to lightening, according to Poultney.
stahmei stahmeitei VIa 5: statio statuta, templum designatum, "augural templum," the designated space of augural observation.
neip mugatu VIa 6: ne mugito, muttito, "that nobody shall make utterances, murmur." Silence is essential in augural practises,
nep arsir andersistu VIa 6: ne divis intersistito, "that nobody shall come in between, barge in," between the divine (signs) and the augur.
disleralinsust VIa 7: alteravit (eṛali, erali=alter) "render irritual, impair the auspice"; attero VII a 11, 27: "bad, unlucky."
verfale VIa 8: formula of the templum. According to a new etymology, de Vaan connects this noun to Latin cognate urbs, both having the meaning of defined space for augural observation, from a PIE root *u(o)rb(h) plus /d(h)-h(2) enclosure, enclosed area.
stahmito VIa 8: statutum, "designated, established."
tuderato VIa 8: finitum, "defined, provided with boundaries." From noun tuder boundary, Etruscan tular.
vapersus auiehcleir VIa 9: lapididibus auguralibus (ablative), "(near) by the augural stones, rocks." Note the change from *l- to v- in Umbrian, also seen in Umbrian vuco versus Latin locus
tuder VIa 9: "boundary, limit."
anclar VIa 16: oscines "songbirds, messengers", literally "those who call out" < *an-kla:- compare Latin clamo "I cry (out)"
combifiatu VIa 17: conspectum capito, nuntiato, "(the augur) shall announce the appearance of the auspices." Literally confidato "confide".
popler anferener VIa 19: populi recensendi, lustrandi, "review of the levied army." Buck cites the parallel instance of the ritual circumambulation holding a lit torch performed by king Tullus Hostilius in Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities IV 22.
perca arsmatia VIa 19: virga ritualis, "ritual (and/or military) rod."
perne postne sepse sarsite uouse auie esone VIb 11: antice postice septe sarcte voce (et) ave (i. e. auspicio) divina, "from before and behind, clear and cut (fully, wholly) voice and bird sacred." Or ...voto, augurio, sacrificio "by vow, auspice and sacrifice."
peiqu: picus "woodpecker"; peica perhaps "magpie;" parfa: parrha, perhaps oxifraga or "upupa/hoopoe"; curnace: cornix, "crow" (VIa 1 etc.).
prinovatus: legatus, assistant to the arsfertur, possibly agrimensor, land-surveyor: probably from Greek πρινος, Celtic prinni oakwood.
percaf poniçate Ib 15; perca poniçiater VIb 51: virgas Punicae-mali "rods," wands of pomegranate wood.
fato fito VIb 11: it looks fito had an active meaning in Umbrian, i.e. "(having) become"; fato has been interpreted as a passive past participle of a verb corresponding to Latin fateor, thence fato fito: having become defined by utterance.
Studies have been devoted recently to identifying the location of the rituals described in the tablets, particularly of the Fisian Arx, which has been placed with certainty on Monte Ingino, to the southwest of Gubbio.
Here is a sample of their language and content, from Tablet VI a 26 ff. (note that there is no punctuation in the original texts):
Here is the fuller text of Tablet VI a 22-34, being the first of three very repetitive and formulaic prayers that the head/officiating priest (arsfertur = "the one who carries [the sacred fire] to [the altar]) is instructed to say during the libation (line numbers in parentheses):
teio subocau suboco (23)
Thee I invoke as the one invoked, (23)
(The chiastic--AB...BA--envelope construction, beginning with "Thee I invoke ... JG," and ending "JG, Thee I invoke" probably was a stylistic way to clearly mark that this was the end of the complete first prayer, to be followed by the second (below, ll. 35-44) and third (ll. 45-55) essentially identical prayers, both capping with the same phrase, and notably with the verb separated from the phrase at the opening of each of the next two prayers.)
Note that veiro pequo...salua seritu "the men and cattle...keep safe" in lines 32-33 matches Latin pastores pecua salua seruassis "the herdsmen and cattle...keep safe" (in Varro, Rerum Rusticarum 2.1.12), and further afield, Avestan θrāθrāi pasuuå: viraiiå: "for the protection of cattle [and] men" (Yasht 13.10), suggesting that some form of the formula goes back to Proto-Indo-European.
[ "Jupiter Grabovius, thee--with this perfect ox as a second propitiatory offering for the Fisian Mount, for the state of Iguvium, for the name of the mount, for the name of the state--I invoke. Jupiter Grabovius, by the effect of this ox bring it to pass, if on the Fisian Mount fire hath occurred or in the state of Iguvium the due rites have been omitted, that it be as not intended. Jupiter Grabovius, if in thy sacrifice there hath been any omission, any sin, any transgression, any damage, any delinquency, if in thy sacrifice there be any seen or unseen fault, Jupiter Grabovius, if it be right, with this perfect ox as a second propitiatory offering may purification be made. Jupiter Grabovius, purify the Fisian Mount, purify the state of Iguvium. Jupiter Grabovius, purify the name of the Fisian Mount, of the state of Iguvium, (40) purify the magistrates, the priesthoods, the lives of men and of beasts, the fruits. Be favourable and propitious with thy peace to the Fisian Mount, to the state of Iguvium, to the name of the mount, to the name of the state. Jupiter Grabovius, keep safe the Fisian Mount, keep safe the state of Iguvium. Jupiter Grabovius, keep safe the name of the Fisian Mount, of the state of Iguvium, keep safe the magistrates, the priesthoods, the lives of men and of beasts, the fruits. Be favourable and propitious with thy peace to the Fisian Mount, to the state of Iguvium, to the name of the mount, to the name of the state. Jupiter Grabovius, thee with this perfect ox as a second propitiatory offering for the Fisian Mount, for the state of Iguvium, for the name of the mount, for the name of the state, Jupiter Grabovius, thee I invoke. ] "