Thursday, December 16, 2010


Version at BMCR home site

Jorma Kaimio, The Cippus Inscriptions of Museo Nazionale di Tarquinia. Archeologica 154; Materiali del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Tarquinia 18. Roma: Giorgio Bretschneider editore, 2010. Pp. xii, 217. ISBN 9788876892424. €230.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Roberto López Montero, Instituto de Filología Clásica y Oriental "San Justino", Madrid

Table of Contents

This typological collection of Etruscan tomb inscriptions in the Museo Nazionale di Tarquinia includes 39 cippi that have not been published before, but it is much more than a catalogue. As Mario Torelli points out in his presentation, we are dealing with a valuable document concerning the city of Tarquinia in the II and I centuries BC, a society where Romanisation was far advanced and therefore was felt in both language and artistic expression. We should not forget that Kaimio is one of the few scholars who have devoted themselves to analysing how Latin came to replace Etruscan in Etruria.1

The work has five parts. Following Torelli's preface comes a discussion of the criteria used to select the inscriptions. The catalogue includes 13 Etruscan and 26 Latin inscriptions that had not be published before, in addition to 35 Etruscan and 33 Latin inscriptions previously published, all in the Museo Nazionale di Tarquinia although some have now disappeared. In addition, there is a catalogue of other cippi which have inscriptions related to Tarquinia. In total, there are 323 epigraphic titles.

The third part is devoted to the dating of the inscriptions. As these inscriptions do not include any explicit dating component, it is necessary to search through known historical facts, archaeological contexts, cippi typology and the internal make-up of the inscription itself, namely, the language used, the palaeography, the structure of the epitaph and the onomastics. Seven types of cippi are described: shoulder, quadratic, round, plate, twin column, cornice base and altar, each accompanied by an illustrative photograph. The materials used are also taken into account. Once these chronological criteria have been described, the author analyses the dating, first of the Etruscan cippi and subsequently of the Latin cippi. This is meticulous and precise work.

The fourth section, the actual catalogue, is the main section of the book. It is divided into five subsections: unpublished Etruscan inscriptions, unpublished Latin inscriptions, already published Etruscan inscriptions, already published Latin inscriptions and cippi inscriptions of Tarquinia not in the Museum. A high quality black and white photograph is included of each, together with a transcription and its interpretation.2

Each inscription is accompanied by a valuable commentary. All publications to date on the inscription are noted, including references to the three large corpora of Etruscan inscriptions.3 Then comes the material description of the cippus: its inventory number, its measurements, its typology and the location of the inscription on it. The following two sections have to do with reading and palaeography. The reading attempts to establish what words are contained in the epigraphic title while the palaeography looks at the letter typology and its measurements. Particularly noteworthy once again is the precision of this section as its findings are based on visual analyses. Lastly, comments are included concerning onomastics. Noteworthy are the genealogical observations, which are very useful in dating the cippus. In this respect, Kaimio, knows how to recognise the value that the Etruscans afforded to genealogies.4 The commentary concludes with the dating of the cippus.

The book ends with a number of highly significant conclusions concerning the Romanisation of Tarquinia. The date on which inscriptions start to be written in Latin is the second half of the II century BC. At that time, we still find cippi with Etruscan titles. However, in the first half of the I century BC we find cippi only in Latin. Sociological study of the inscriptions reveals that 40% of cippi in Tarquinia refer to women, a very high percentage. Further, the cippi are typical of the city's middle class and comprise at least ninety different gentilicia. These results can be used to carry out a comparison between the cities of Etruria.

The last pages of the book are a list of abbreviations, an up-to-date bibliography, an epigraphic concordance and an index of names with various sections. The concordance is very useful in that it enables an inscription which has already been published in different corpora and journals to be located. The indexes record Etruscan and Latin terms in the categories in which they appear throughout the book.

The book is, therefore, a very elaborate monographic study which has taken years to produce. The cataloguing and analysis of the cippi of Museo Nazionale de Tarquinia make it possible to expand our knowledge of Etruscan, its development and gradual extinction and provide clear information to draw a sociological picture of Tarquinia.

In short, this attractive study is a model to be followed when ordering, cataloguing and discussing the realities of the Etruscan world. Kaimio makes the cippi talk, and they provide us with substantial information which has been locked away since the first millennium BC. Undoubtedly the author has opened up new perspectives in the difficult task of Etruscology.


1.   Kaimio, J., 1975, "The Ousting of Etruscan by Latin in Etruria", in Studies in the Romanization of Etruria, Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae V, pp. 85-246.
2.   For the transcription, the format of H. Rix (Etruskische Texte I-II, Tübingen 1991) has been used, which offers more than just a few problems with Etruscan sibilants.
3.   C. Pauli (ed.), Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum vol.1 (Rome 1964), M. Pallottino Testimonia Linguae Etruscae (Florence 1968) and the Rix edition (above n.2).
4.   Kaimio follows in the tradition of M. Cristofani (La tomba delle iscrizioni a Cerveteri, Florence 1965), A, Pfiffig, A., 1969, (Die etruskische Sprache, Graz 1969, p. 232) and J. Heurgon ("Prumts, prumaths et les arbres généalogiques étrusques", Collection Latomus 191, 1986, pp. 215-227).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.