Public Epigraphy in Ancient Italy (PEAI)



In this new post we would like to introduce the work of one of our AELAW member’s project, Ignacio Simón Cornago, being developed currently thanks to his Marie-Curie contract in the Università degli Studi di Tor Vergata (Rome, Italy), under the supervision of Prof. Paolo Poccetti.

 His work is involve in the project called Public Epigraphy in Ancient Italy, third-first centuries BCE (PEAI). The purpose of it is therefore to compile palaeo-Italic public inscriptions to analyze their use as a means of social communication from the third to the first centuries B.C. Public epigraphy comprises the inscriptions intended for public display regardless of whether they were the result of an official or private initiative. These texts constitute a peculiar form of social communication which was quite typical in the ancient world. They were used for self representation and to spread and perpetuate a series of solemn messages linked to the fundamental values of society, in particular, the values of its elite. The chosen period, prior to the shaping of the so-called imperial epigraphic culture –which began under Augustus and involved an exponential increase in the ‘epigraphic habit’– is characterized by an incipient proclivity to produce public types of texts and, above all, by a diversity of epigraphic cultures, both with regard to language and script.

The work plan consists of producing a census of public inscriptions and cataloguing them in an online database (ENCEOM), including the direct analysis of a significant part of the inscriptions. These documents also allow us to study three specific aspects: linguistic changes and the ensuing possible implications on identity; the social groups which promoted them; and the privileged spheres of epigraphic and public communication.

So, we are sure that it will be a really successful project, of which you will hear again soon.

Fig 1.  Languages of Ancient Italy


Fig 2.  Oscan building inscription from Pompeii (fotograph: I. Simón; Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, N.º Inv. 121758)


Fig 3.  Model file ENCEOM