Current Epigraphy
ISSN: 1754-0909

2 October, 2008

Epigraphic ligature for VI?

Filed under: EpiDoc,query — Gabriel Bodard @ 18:07

Over on the Markup list (for discussion of text markup issues) we have been discussing the ligature of VI that appears in some Latin inscriptions. I asked:

We have come across several cases in the Inscriptions of Roman
Tripolitania of the symbol that looks a little like an Arabic '4', but
seems in fact to be a ligature of VI and stands for the numeral six (or,
followed for example by II, part of a larger numeral VIII etc.)

(1) is this a recognised symbol, and is there a Unicode codepoint that
is either dedicated to it or acceptable to use to encode this symbol (as
opposed to just for display)?

(2) is there a common name for this symbol, better than "six-ligature"
or "vi-ligature"?

(The symbol appears not to have a separate codepoint in Unicode, and nor should we expect it to be treated differently from U+2165, “Roman numeral six”, of which it is, after all, only a glyph variant. We have also, I think, answered the question of how to represent this symbol in EpiDoc [i.e. just like any other ligature].)

As an interesting aside, Paul Iversen suggested that there may some influence on this glyph-form from the Greek numeric stigma/digamma for six. There are plenty of other examples of the use of this symbol (including some useful Latin papyrological examples provided offlist by Rodney Ast). I include here the one photograph I have been able to find of a Tripolitanian example, where (VI)III = 9:

VI ligature example (from IRT 209)

What do readers think? Is there any relationship between this and digamma? Is there a name for this ligature? Is there any argument for treating this any differently from a ligature of (NM) or (ΠΡ)?

1 Comment »

  1. To Whom it may concern
    The picture of the Roman text is very intresting. I have a similar peice from the Qumran area in the middle east.

    Comment by Martial Frechette — 30 January, 2009 @ 04:35

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