Talk: Women’s inscribed dedications in the Veneto, 600-50 BC

Next week, I’m presenting at the conference Parole per gli dei: dediche religiose in lingue epicoriche nel Mediterraneo Occidentale [Words for the gods: religious dedications in epichoric languages in the Western Mediterranean] at the Academia Belgica in Rome. I’m thrilled to be included in this conference which includes such an international range of scholars.


Here is my abstract for the paper:

The epigraphic culture of the Veneto region is full of contrasts, particularly between its two largest cities: Este and Padua. At Padua, dedications to the gods were made within the city, many dedications are uninscribed, and all named dedicators are men. At Este, religious activity was focussed on a number of large extra-mural sanctuaries, each associated with a particular deity and social group. At the sanctuary of Reitia, goddess of writing, we find many dedications inscribed in the Venetic language, mostly in the form of bronze copies of writing tablets and styluses. The majority of these inscribed dedications to Reitia were made by women – or at least, they feature female names in the nominative.

This paper explores the relationships between the goddess Reitia, the practice of dedicating inscribed writing tools and the position of women in Atestine society. In a society where we expect literacy to be predominantly male, how and why did these practices develop? Does the use of women’s names on bronze writing tablets and styluses provide evidence that women used these objects in daily life? This paper suggests that the dual functions of Reitia – her association with women and her association with writing – came together to create a highly specific local epigraphic practice, whose linguistic and archaeological traces continue into the Roman period of the city. It also argues that the dedicatory practices of women may have affected the wider epigraphic habit of the city, with women’s names appearing at Este more often than at Padua, not just in dedications but also in other text types.

The schedule for the rest of the conference (posted below) also looks fantastic. If you are in Rome this week, and you are interested in the languages of the Western Mediterranean, I will hope to see you there!

Programma convegno: Parole per gli dèi. Dediche religiose in lingue epicoriche del Mediterraneo Occidentale. Roma, Academia Belgica, 18-19 maggio 2017.

18 maggio 2017

09 h 15


Sessione 1.

09h 30. P. Poccetti (Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”), “Uno sguardo sociolinguistico ed interlinguistico alle dediche votive dell’Italia tardorepubblicana”.

10 h 10. K. McDonald (University of Exeter), “Women’s inscribed dedications in the Veneto, 600-50 BC”.

10 h 50. E. Benelli (CNR), “La ceramica, la pietra, il metallo: tradizioni e culture epigrafiche del sacro in Etruria”.

Pausa café

Sessione 2.

11 h 50. H. Blanchet (Université de Limoges et Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études), “Nouvelles considérations sur le formulaire brateís datas dans les inscriptions votives osques”.

12 h 30. D. F. Maras (Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia), “Il dono, gli dèi e il sacro in Etruria: un aggiornamento”.

Pausa pranzo

Sessione 3.

14 h 10. D. Nonnis (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”), “Forme di devozione nel Lazio medio-repubblicano: il riflesso epigrafico”.

14 h 50. C. Girardi (Università degli Studi di Padova), S. Marchesini (Progetto Alteritas), “Pre-Roman Theonyms in Plural Form in Ancient Italy”.

Pausa café


Sessione 4.

15 h 50. M. G. Amadasi (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”), “Tipologia delle iscrizioni fenicie di dono. Oltre venticinque anni dopo”.

16 h 30. R. De Simone (Università di Enna “Kore”), “Iscrizioni votive puniche e neopuniche vs cultura epigrafica latina in Nordafrica: tra romanitas e alteritas”

17 h 10. L. Gilhaus (Universität Bonn), “Diversity and uniformisation – Religious dedications in Africa in the late Republic and early Empire (146 BC – 69 CE)”.


19 maggio 2017


Sessione 5.

09 h 30. J. Velaza (Universitat de Barcelona), “La epigrafía religiosa en el mundo ibérico”

10 h 10. V. Sabaté (Universitat de Barcelona), “En busca de inscripciones religiosas en los plomos ibéricos”.

10 h 50. J. Ferrer i Jané (Universitat de Barcelona – Grupo Littera), “Panorama actual de la epigrafía ibérica rupestre”.

Pausa café

Sessione 6.

11 h 45. F. Beltrán (Universidad de Zaragoza), “Monumentalización y epigrafía religiosa en la Hispania tardorrepublicana”.

12 h 25. F. Marco (Universidad de Zaragoza), “Dedicaciones religiosas en la Hispania indoeuropea”.

Pausa pranzo

Sessione 7.

14 h 30. I. Simón (Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea),“El verbo scribo en las inscripciones lusitanas y en la epigrafía de Hispania”.

15 h 10. J. M. Vallejo (Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea), “Nombres de divinidades en dedicaciones religiosas indígenas en el Occidente hispano: lo que la lingüística (y otras ciencias) pueden decir sobre funciones teonímicas”.

Pause café


Sessione 8.

16 h 00. W. Eck (Universität zu Köln), “Die Ubier und ihre autochthone Religion”

16 h 40. M. J. Estarán (Université libre de Bruxelles), “Les inscriptions ieuru: pour une révision du dossier”.

17 h 20. E. Dupraz (Université libre de Bruxelles / Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes), “Les inscriptions ieuru: la dédicace d’Alesia L -13 et celle de Vaison G- 153”.


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