Current Epigraphy
ISSN: 1754-0909

24 February, 2008

Ephemeris Napocensis (journal)

Filed under: publications,rare_publication — Gil Renberg @ 06:40

Only five U.S. libraries (and the same number of European libraries in Worldcat) receive Ephemeris Napocensis, which is an important journal for the study of Roman Dacia and includes much epigraphical content:

Title: Ephemeris Napocensis
Published: Cluj
Language: Romanian
OCLC: 35818737
ISSN: 1220-5249

22 February, 2008

Epigraphic Digitization and Imagery Annotation

Filed under: methodology — Tom Elliott @ 16:06

My query about a Hadrianic boundary marker from Bulgaria was occasioned by a demo that Sean Gillies and I (mostly Sean) worked up for online epigraphic image annotation using some free, open-source software called OpenLayers. Sean blogged about the demo, and this has provoked some inquiries from folks in the geospatial computing community, like this one from Paul Ramsey:

What’s the use case for digitized inscriptions? I don’t comprehend.

I thought readers of CurEp might be interested in the demo. I also hope I can encourage a discussion on the potential merits and pitfalls of digitally tracing and annotating inscriptions. Can we answer Paul’s question, both for him and ourselves?

Query: A Hadrianic boundary marker from Bulgaria

Filed under: query — Tom Elliott @ 15:57

Yesterday I posted an article on my blog entitled “Demarcation between the T(h)races and Moesi“. I have a photograph of an inscribed boundary marker — which clearly belongs to a well-documented instance of boundary demarcation in AD 135 — but have not been able to find a corresponding publication of this particular text. I do know of 8 other relevant published markers.

I’m hoping CurEp readers can help.

19 February, 2008

Werner Eck: New perspectives on Hadrian and the Bar Kokhba revolt

Filed under: events — BenKeim @ 18:23

Epigraphic Saturday, Cambridge, February 16th, 2008. 10.30.

Werner Eck began the day by extending his earlier arguments on the nature and extent of the Bar Kokhba revolt (see ‘The bar Kokhba Revolt: The Roman Point of View’, in JRS [1999] 89: 76-89). While many have contested the reliability of Dio Cassius’ account (69.12-15.1), Eck marshalled a wide variety of epigraphic sources, drawn from Italy and across the Eastern Mediterranean, to illustrate the realities behind Dio’s claim that ‘the whole earth … was being stirred up over the matter’ (Dio Cass. 69.13.2).

First, Eck examined three epigraphic sources indicating unusual recruitment into the Roman fleet and legions. Two inscriptions show that delecti were dispatched, uncharacteristically for this era, within Italy. A papyrus from Caesarea, dated to 150, attests the earlier transfer of veterans from the fleet to the legion and, as a necessity, their enfranchisement as Roman citizens. The most telling evidence, however, comes from military diplomas, a source revolutionized by the post-Cold War recovery and publication of diplomas of Eastern European provenance. Thirteen naval diplomas, dated to 160 and originating in the province of Thracia, survive. Since the survival rate of diplomas is reckoned at between 0.5-1.0%, and only 50-60% of the recruits from any given year would have survived twenty-six years of service, Eck concluded, on the basis of these diplomas, that between 2600-5300 recruits – or approximately half of the Roman fleet – were enlisted in 134.

Next, he considered epigraphic sources concerned with the recruitment and service of auxiliaries in Judaea. He began with four diplomas from auxiliary troops stationed in Judaea, each of whom was recruited from the area around Pamphylia. The close proximity of these recruits’ origins indicate a levy driven by necessity, and their subsequent enrolment – as lecti, not voluntarii – into the depleted auxiliary units of Judaea. Three diplomas, from 157-8, survive for the 7th Ala Phrygum, another indication of significant losses (and subsequent recruitment) in 133. Five diplomas, from June 159, survive for the 1st Ala Tracum Victrix, based in Pannonia Superior. Other sources attest that Pannonia was calm at this time, and that some of her seasoned auxiliaries were moved to Judaea; they were replaced by these new recruits.

Dio Cassius (69.13.2) notes that Hadrian dispatched his best generals (most notably Julius Severus, from Britain) to this theatre. Inscriptions confirm these movements, and supply additional names. Eck detailed the case of Poblicius Marcellus, governor of Syria, and discussed the monument bearing his name at Aquileia (AE 1934, 231). Since ‘Poblicius Marcellus’ here is in the nominative, rather than in the dative, this base cannot have been an honorary monument (which, besides, would have included the entire cursus), but was rather dedicated personally by the governor.

Besides these Roman materials, there survives some evidence for the rebels’ recruitment (or at least attraction) of foreigners. The most notable example is the well-known letter from the Bar Kochba papyrii, in which Soumaios (whose name denotes Nabatean origins) corresponds in Greek, and comments on his unfamiliarity with the Hebrew script.

Eck believes that the rebellion continued into 136 (cf. CIL 14.2088, from Dec. 135-Dec. 136), but was suppressed prior to Hadrian’s acceptance of imperator iterum. Hadrian accepted this honour in recognition of the concluded campaign’s magnitude, and the governors of Judaea, Syria, and Arabia – all of whom had been involved – simultaneously received ornamenta triumphalia. One honour which remains mysterious is the enormous arch raised for Hadrian in the countryside near Tel Shalem. While only fragments, re-used as coverings for Byzantine graves, survive, their 41 cm. high Latin letters indicate an arch 11 meters wide. The identity of the dedicator remains uncertain – a legion? the Senate and People of Rome? – but the scale and location of the monument indicates that it must be connected with events in the province, and perhaps it marked a turning point in this eventful campaign.

Dorothy Thompson: Not Alexander:an inscription from Hello!

Filed under: events — ValentinaAsciutti @ 00:04

Epigraphic Saturday, Cambridge, February 16th, 2008.

Dorothy Thompson gave a witty and intriguing paper about the history of two Greek inscriptions found in 1995 in Al-Maroqui, in the far west of the oasis of Siwa.

The two inscriptions, originally believed to be three, received immense press and ended up being published in Hello! magazine in February 1995 together with some glossy, but not especially useful, photographs. At the time of publication, the archaeologist Liana Souvaltzi claimed that they revealed the location of the tomb of Alexander. This reading was already refuted by R.S. Bianchi in the article, “Alexander’s Tomb…Not”, Archaeology May/June 1995 and by A. Spawforth in “The quest for Alexander’s tomb” Ad Familiares 11 1996, II-III.

Thompson and Joyce Reynolds have been re-examining the readings in these early publications.

By looking at these photographs, and others supplied by an Egyptian journalist:

  1. nothing can be made out of the first inscription
  2. the second text is broken into many pieces, at least twenty-two. Once reconstructed, it forms a large block with a border that presumably framed the text. The lettering is quite clear and visible on the pictures, which allowed appropriate supplements to be made and new readings suggested

17 February, 2008

Michael Crawford: Language, geography, and economy in early Italy

Filed under: events — Gabriel Bodard @ 21:32

Epigraphic Saturday, Cambridge, February 16th, 2008. 15:30.

Crawford presented some observations based on his research over the past six of compiling the Imagines Italicae corpus of Oscan, Umbrian, and Picene inscriptions. He began with the observation that while Roman colonies, even those established in Italic-speaking or Etruscan areas, invariably left epigraphy only in Latin, the native Oscans throughout the region where that language was spoken left large numbers of inscriptions in Oscan written in the national alphabet. Where there were exceptions to this pattern, there must be some political or cultural explanation.

In the settlement at Pontecagnano, for example, there are two major sanctuaries that both cease operation around 300 BC (at least one of them is deliberately and ritually closed down), and Oscan inscriptions end around the same time. This was about the time that the Romans forcibly re-settled some tens of thousands of Picentes to this area, in order to do which they must have confiscated a huge amount of land from the locals. This great cultural and demographic shift must have changed the composition of the entire region, and may be the explanation for the sudden cease of all public writing in Oscan.

Similarly at Salerno there were a large number of Oscan inscriptions in the Etruscan alphabet, but this indiginous writings ends at the end of the third century with the foundation of the Roman colony. Public writing seems to be driven in large part by large cultural and political institutions (sanctuaries, mints, governmental decrees); the toppling of such institutions by Roman intervention can cause a radical shift writing style. Examination of this evidence allows us, Crawford argues, to reconstruct a geography of political and economic confiscations in early Italy.

For example, large amounts of land seem to have been confiscated by the Romans in Caudium, perhaps in an attempt to blot out the memory of the shameful defeat at the Caudine forks. At Cluviae there is almost no native epigraphy at all; while the land here is very poor, it seems that the Romans may have confiscated the land here purely out of vengeance for the locals’ defiance of them rather than due to any need for the land itself. In a valley further inland [name not caught by this blogger], a very fertile stretch of land seems to have been confiscated but not re-settled until much later (when Gracchan boundary stones appear in large numbers), perhaps with the aim of breaking up the politico-religious cultural structures in the region.

As usual, Crawford ended the paper with a puzzle, a question for the audience to deliberate upon. The city of Aequum Tuticum is, like many of those discussed above, lacking in native Oscan epigraphy. The name “Aequum” is a good Latin name, and clearly it was a Roman settlement; but “Tuticum” is pure Oscan (the Latin transliteration of Tuvtix “public”). How did a Roman colony with no evidence of native writing retain such a clearly Italic name?

16 February, 2008

Thomas Corsten: some inscriptions from Kibyra and Olbasa

Filed under: events — Gabriel Bodard @ 16:31

Epigraphic Saturday, Cambridge, February 16th, 2008. 14:15.

Corsten presented two inscriptions in this session, both of which he has only begun to work on and are not yet completely interpreted.

The first is a fragment (six incomplete lines) of a dedication on a large block from the wall of the temple of the Imperial cult in Kibyra. Both the dedicatee (in dative) and the dedicant (in nominative) seem to be emperors: the former a Σεβαστός whose name does not otherwise survive, but is linked with Livia (“New Demeter”), and therefore ought to be her husband Augustus or her son Tiberius; the latter is son of Drusus and founder of the city, almost certainly Claudius. Although there is mention of a rebuilding, and the major earthquake in Kibyra postdated the death of Augustus, it is inconceivable that an inscription under Claudius should mention Tiberius and Livia together like this, so Augustus and Livia must be the didicatees. (There is some difficulty concerning the number of emperors in this inscription: it is not impossible that Tiberius, Nero, and Claudius are all listed in the nominative as founders and rebuilders of the city after Augustus and Livia in the dative.)

The second text is a very worn, hard to read, 27-line fragment of a decree from Olbasa (modern Belenli). The text seems to be Hellenistic, with several references to βασιλεῖς (who must be the Pergamene royals). The decree seems to be recognising the Nikephoria festival of Permamon; even including a formula identical to the one used of this festival in Pergamon. As this inscription is very similar in lettering and dimensions to another Hellenistic fragment from this city–to which it can not be related–Corsten suggests that this could be part of an archive wall collecting decrees relating to the history of the city in a single collection.

13 February, 2008

Cambridge Epigraphic Saturday lineup

Filed under: events — Gabriel Bodard @ 12:28

This coming Saturday, February 16th, 2008, Joyce Reynolds is organising an epigraphic seminar at the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge, starting at 1030 sharp.

Werner Eck: New perspectives on Hadrian and the Bar Kochba revolt

Leonardo de Arrizabalaga y Prado: a brief report on inscriptions from the reign of Elagabalus

Henrik Mouritsen: Quantifying Roman manumission using epigraphic evidence

Thomas Corsten: Work in progress: some inscriptions from Kibyra and Olbasa

Dorothy Thompson: Not Alexander: an inscription from Hello

Michael Crawford: Language, geography, and economy in early Italy

All welcome. Contact Joyce Reynolds via Newnham College for more information.

10 February, 2008

Études épigraphiques online

Filed under: publications — Gabriel Bodard @ 19:53

Last week, Intute added to the Classics and Archaeology categories a record for Études épigraphiques, a series published by the École Française d’Athènes, with four volumes online (and open access) from between 1994 and 1997 (Decourt’s Inscriptions de Thessalie I, Cabanes et al. Corpus des inscriptions grecques d’Illyrie méridionale et d’Épire I & II, and Bielman’s Retour à la liberté). The pages are low-quality JPEGs and there doesn’t seem to be a way to download the texts complete, but it’s good to have this stuff freely available if you know what page you’re looking for, say.

(Who do we have to write to to ask for PDFs and a better table of contents?)

[corrected 2008-02-11]

9 February, 2008

Teaching Languages with Inscriptions

Filed under: events,training — Gabriel Bodard @ 15:15

At a teaching and learning training day for new lecturers run by the Higher Education Academy’s Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology (26th February 2008, Birkbeck College, London; see PDF poster), is listed a break-out session on ‘Teaching Languages with Inscriptions’.

I have always thought this was a valuable tool, for several reasons: (1) inscriptions tend to use simple grammar and repetitive vocabulary that are easy for beginning students to handle; (2) it’s real ancient text, not invented and unrealistic lingo like so many textbooks offer; (3) exercises involving uppercase letters (in Greek), no word-breaks, can be useful in consolidating students’ knowledge of the basics, *and* (4) working from photographs and real texts will give them a sense of real accomplishment and be a lot of fun.

Anyone have any insight or experiences to share on this?

Online: Manual de Fundamentos de Epigrafía Latina

Filed under: publications — Gabriel Bodard @ 13:32

Announced via AIEGL:

Tengo el placer de comunicarte que ya está disponible en la página web de Liceus, y dentro del Área de Epigrafía Latina ( un Manual de Fundamentos de Epigrafía Latina que, seguro, será útil para vuestras clases y como material de apoyo para el estudio de los alumnos. Coordinado por Javier Andreu, en él han participado también otros jóvenes investigadores como Pablo Ozcáriz, Eva Tobalina y Ángel Jordán. Me consta que el resultado es un trabajo serio, riguroso, con abundante aparato gráfico y actualizadísima bibliografía. En el documento “Presentación” -de descarga gratuita- podréis acercaros a la filosofía del trabajo. Pronto, además, el Manual será editado en papel dentro de una colección de manuales universitarios que está preparando Liceus E-Excellence con la vocación de servir al mejor estudio de las Humanidades.

The introduction (9 pages PDF in Spanish) is downloadable for free, other chapters cost between 1-3 Euro each. (I don’t see an option to purchase the entire volume in one file, but presumably there must be one?

8 February, 2008

Web Change: Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies (Ohio State)

Filed under: news — Tom Elliott @ 17:52

Wendy Watkins writes to alert us to the following:

Our College of Humanities people have our new web site up and running.  It is now at  All the info is there, but some changes will need to be made.

The old site at is no longer functional, and HTTP redirects have evidently not been put in place to forward traffic to the new site.

7 February, 2008

BMCR review of Rhodes, Greek City States

Filed under: review — Gabriel Bodard @ 17:17

Appeared in BMCR 2008.01.61 a few days ago, Jonathan Strang’s relatively brief review of the second edition of this important student primer:

P.J. Rhodes, The Greek City States: A Source Book. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. xiii, 339. ISBN 978-0-521-85049-0. $85.00 (hb). ISBN 978-0-521-61556-3. $29.99 (pb).

(Worldcat record)

Strang highlights the value of this tome for the novice undergraduate and praises Rhodes’ “lucid commentary”. He summarises the structure of the volume, and notes the addition of three new chapters on “Women and Children”, “Economic Life” and religion, as well as several important new texts. This is an important new edition of the 1986 sourcebook, and Strang notes that it has been thoroughly updated throughout. While noting weaknesses of the work (many of which arise from the unfortunate but inevitable need in a student text to generalize and gloss over some important variations in antiquity), the reviewer concludes:

Despite my reservations about the Hellenistic content, The Greek City States remains an excellent resource for the Greek history instructor. Indeed, it is superior in content, form and design to the comparable sourcebooks by Crawford and Whitehead, and the volumes by Fornara and Harding in the Translated Documents of Greece & Rome series. It is a welcome addition to any class concerning Greek social history of the Archaic and Classical periods.

5 February, 2008

Garrucci 1852: Classis Praetoriae Misenensis Piae Vindicis, Gordianae, Philippianae Monumenta Quae Exstant

Filed under: mbooks — Tom Elliott @ 23:21

Garrucci, Raffaele. 1852. Classis Praetoriae Misenensis Piae Vindicis, Gordianae, Philippianae Monumenta Quae Exstant. Neapoli: ex tipis J. Cataneo, OCLC: 23501474


This work appears (worldcat) to only be held in North America at Michigan and Harvard, but fortunately it is now available in digital format from Michigan and Google Books.

Homolle 1887: Les archives de l’intendance sacrée à Délos (315-166 av. J.-C.)

Filed under: mbooks — Tom Elliott @ 18:05

Théophile Homolle, Les archives de l’intendance sacrée à Délos (315-166 av. J.-C.), Paris : E. Thorin, 1887, OCLC: 7036183.

Digitized October 13, 2005:

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