Montovolo: Sacred Mountain of the Northern Mysterious Etruscan Dodecapolis

(Italian Version)

The most celebrated Oracular Centres are found around the Mediterranean area and anciently they were sacred places dedicated to quasi-religious cult. Usually, any centre had an ovoidal stone which the Greeks called omphalos, "navel", and for this reason some centres are called " navel of the world ". On the top of this stone-navel there are often portrayed two birds, usually doves, facing each other. As reported by R. Temple in the book The Sirius Mystery, to any oracular centre it was also associated an "arboreal code" : Dodona had an oak , Delphi had a laurel, Delo a palm, Sidone a cedar , Hebron an acacia etcc, and these plants are often portrayed on the ovoidal stone or on other stone. The plant was a "code" in order to define the oracular centre and perhaps served to define the position of the place.

Montovolo, also called the Sacred Mountain, is a mount, located in the Appennino Tosco Emiliano between Bologna and Florence, which I believed it was an ancient Etruscan Oracular Centre. On the top there is a very ancient Sanctuary which is defined by historians "a mystery of the history". The lunette of the Sanctuary portal shows the inscription A.D MCCXI and this date (anno domine 1211 ) is considered, up to now, the date of this lunette. But the thing for us more interesting is that there are portrayed two doves, facing each other. In the center of this lunette there is a cross formed by five holes inscribed in a circle and probably this is not a Christian cross. Similar simbology is found in several oracular centres to indicate the centre of the World, as reported in the cited book of R. Temple. In addition, below to the two sides of the lunette, there are portrayed two plants which seem "lilies "or similar flowers which might be the "arboreal code" of this centre because these flowers are typical of this mountain.

The Sanctuary 's portal lunette with the two doves, the two lilies and the cross inscribed in a circle

Then, after these observations and noting that several Etruscan remains have been found in the slopes of this mount I have hyphotized that Montovolo was in origin an ancient Etruscan Oracular Centre.

Subsequently I have looked for other confirmations to my initial hyphothesis. It should be noted often other indications are present to define an oracle centre such as the presence of a serpent generally coiled on the ovoidal stone.

About Montovolo we found a legend of a serpent which is hidden under a large stone. This serpent is the guardian of a treasure and it is waiting for a kiss of a young girl to return to his original human form. There is too a serpent legend associated with the founding of Delphi, the best known oracle of the ancient Greece. As reported by R. Greaves, The Greek Myths, at Delphi there is also a very ancient ballad narrating the destruction of a temple of an hero who took the form of a serpent. As you can see this ballad is very similar to the Montovolo’s legend. Then the figure of an ovoidal stone and of a serpent is fundamental to define an oracular centre: Also in the presumed Montovolo’s oracular centre it is present, in the legend, a snake associated to a large stone. The big stone of the legend might be really an oval stone with the snake above carved. Now, only the legend has remained but perhaps the oval stone is buried under the church or in the proximity. The oval stone brings back us probably to the origin of the name Monte Ovolo that some historians explain with the oval form of the mount but if this is true many other mountains would have such name. Moreover, such mountain it is not really oval. On the contrary, I believe that the name derives from the presence on the mountain of a big oval stone. Recently I have found another relationship or coincidence, that ties Montovolo to Delphi. At Delphi there is a sacred source, called Castalia, and it had seven fountains with an enormous tub. Also at the slopes of Montovolo it exists or it, is better to say, existed (however I have found a photo ) a spring in a place that is still called Cantalia and this source had seven fountains and an enormous tub like that of Castalia to Delphi.

At about 15 kms from Montovolo along the road that conducts to Bologna, on the Via Porrettana, there are the remains of the ancient Etruscan town of Misa (in the commune of Marzabotto). This discovery was found in the second half of 1800 and until the beginning it aroused wonder in all the world. The discovery of the town of Misa in its total amplitude, gave concreteness to the legendary existence of a league of the twelve cities to north of the Appennino. If a dodecapoli existed it had to be there also its Sacred Mountain where the Lucumonis or Princeps had their meeting to take the most important decisions. I have visited the city of Misa to look for proofs to confirme me that this Sacred Mountain was Montovolo. Confirmations immediately appeared! The first strangeness that appears in front of the visitors of the Necropolis is the presence of an Oval stone on several tombs. The graves that don't have this oval stone above have it in the proximity ! Some, the most beautiful, are in the Museo Aria! This fact tell us that probably every grave had on the top an Oval stone. Today every contemporary tomb has over its religious symbol, that, for us, is the Cross. Then, the religious symbol of that Etruscan dodecapoli or alone city was the Oval stone.

If it is so, the Sacred Mountain is Montovolo that also in the name still preserves the meaning of the Mountain with the Oval stone.


The Oriental Necropolis of Marzabotto

Prof G. Baccolini

Università di Bologna

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Article published by G. Baccolini on HERA, april 2001 pg 61