A cathedral field trip

One of my academic specialisms is the study of inscriptions, otherwise known as epigraphy. Most of the material I work with is epigraphic, and sometimes this is one of the biggest challenges in my work. Learning how to read inscriptions is a skill that you need to learn by trial-and-error and, ideally, by having someone with…

Nurses and “milk-buddies” in Roman epitaphs

One of my favourite things about the Roman death course I’m teaching this year is that every week teaches me something I never knew before. A few weeks ago, while I was translating some epitaphs to use in a lecture, a particular word caught my eye. The inscription ran: Rottio hic sit[us es]t iuve/nili robore…

Sicily – Culture, Conquest and Battering Rams

Last week I enjoyed a nice afternoon off, checking out the British Museum’s “Sicily: Culture and Conquest”. I highly recommend it – the displays are fascinating, though somewhat crowded (as always). The exhibition focusses mainly on the Greek and Norman periods of Sicilian history, so go with that in mind if you’re expecting lots of…

The demos of Roccagloriosa

Today’s inscription is a fantastic example of linguists getting a huge amount of information about ancient societies out of very short texts. How short? Well, about two letters actually. Buxentum 2 (c. 300 BC) reads <ΔΗ>, or <DE> to transcribe it into the Roman alphabet. The two letters are joined by one of their lines, to make…

Corfinium – Italia or Italica?

Over the Easter holidays, I’ve been reading Mary Beard’s SPQR, which I highly recommend. I was particularly pleased that so much of it focusses on early Rome and its relationship with Italy – it was at least a third of the way through before we even got to Sulla. Mary, as usual, brings out all…

Dedication to Mefitis

    μεfιτει μαρασ σταλλιεσ βρα τεισ δατ[α]σ To Mefitis, Maras Stallies, for grace given Oscan inscription in the Greek alphabet. Rossano di Vaglio, 325-275 BC. Imagines Italicae: Potentia 13; Sabellische Texte Lu 16. This is an inscription on stone, found at the sanctuary site of Rossano di Vaglio (pictured below) in central Lucania, modern day…

Four footprints, two languages, one tile

hn. sattiieis. detfri segnatted. plavtad herennis. amica signauit. qando. a- ponebamus. tegila(m)   Detfri of Hn. Sattis signed with a footprint. Amica of Herens signed when we were laying out the tile. Oscan/Latin inscription and four shoe prints on a large clay roof tile (0.67 x 0.94m). Pietrabbondante, c. 100 BC. Imagines Italicae: Teruentum 25;…