One afternoon in November 1634, 19-year-old Curzio Inghirami went fishing with his 13-year-old sister in the river behind their house. Their villa, called Scornello, stood on an isolated hill in the countryside south of Volterra, the highest and most remote of the ancient Etruscan cities. On their way home Curzio amused himself by rolling stones down the riverbank. One stone uncovered a “small blackish clod,” bound together with bitumen and wax. On breaking open the bundle, he found a scroll of linen rag paper marked with strange writing.