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2015.dec2The procedure used by a marriageable Etruscan young woman of 2300 years ago to identify her prospective husband may have lacked precision compared to today’s computer dating services, but it was more fun. The first step was to draw a circle on the ground, then divide the circle into twenty-four sections and scrawl a letter of the alphabet in each section. The next steps involved dropping a kernel of corn beside each of the 24 letters and releasing the family hen to forage among the kernels. The hopeful bride then worked out two names one might make from the kernel-free letters. The hen had to be sacrificed and its cleaned collar bone was left to grow brittle in the sun… to become a wishbone. At the appropriate time two people each grasped an end of the wishbone, making a wish for one of the two names, and they pulled until it broke. The larger side was the “lucky break” and the rest is human nature.

One can wonder whether the Etruscans had a stock market from which to select lucky breaks among investments of the time. Whatever the application, the wishbone procedure continues to reflect human nature to this day.

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