Epigraphy (ἐπιγραφολογία, from Greek "ἐπιγραφή" — "inscription") is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs engraved into stone or other durable materials, or cast in metal, the science of classifying them as to cultural context and date, elucidating them and assessing what conclusions can be deduced from them. A person studying this is called an epigrapher or epigraphist (ἐπιγραφολόγος).


Epigraphy is a primary tool of archaeology when dealing with literate cultures. The US Library of Congress classifies epigraphy as one of the "Auxiliary Sciences of History". Epigraphy also helps identify a forgery: epigraphic evidence formed part of the discussion concerning the James Ossuary.Since epigraphy is a science of the "particular," references to epigraphic evidence appear in most Wikipedia entries discussing aspects of Ancient history.

The study of ancient handwriting, usually in ink, is a separate field, Palaeography.

The character of the writing, the subject of epigraphy, is a matter quite separate from the nature of the text, which is studied in itself. Texts inscribed in stone are usually for public view (or for the view of the god, as in the Persian Behistun inscription), and so they are essentially different from the written texts of each culture. Not all inscribed texts are public, however: in Mycenean culture the deciphered texts of "Linear B" were revealed to be largely used for economic and administrative record keeping. Informal inscribed texts are "graffiti" in its original sense.


The science of epigraphy has been developing steadily since the 16th century. Principles of epigraphy vary culture by culture, and the infant science in European hands concentrated on Latin inscriptions at first. Individual contributions have been made by epigraphers such as Georg Fabricius (1516–1571); August Wilhelm Zumpt (1815–1877); Theodor Mommsen (1817–1903); Emil Hübner (1834–1901); Franz Cumont (1868–1947); Louis Robert (1904–1985).

The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, begun by Mommsen and other scholars, has been published in Berlin since 1863, with wartime interruptions. It is the largest and most extensive collection of Latin inscriptions. New fascicles are still produced as the recovery of inscriptions continues. The "Corpus" is arranged geographically: all inscriptions from Rome are contained in volume 6. This volume has the greatest number of inscriptions; volume 6, part 8, fascicle 3 was just recently published (2000). Specialists depend on such on-going series of volumes in which newly-discovered inscriptions are published, often in Latin, not unlike the biologists' "Zoological Record"— the raw material of history.

Greek epigraphy has unfolded in the hands of a different team, with different corpora. There are two. The first is "Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum" of which four volumes came out, again at Berlin, 1825-1877. This marked a first attempt at a comprehensive publication of Greek inscriptions copied from all over the Greek-speaking world. Only advanced students still consult it, for better editions of the texts have superseded it. The second, modern corpus is "Inscriptiones Graecae" arranged geographically under categories: decrees, catalogues, honorary titles, funeral inscriptions, various., all presented in Latin, to preserve the international neutrality of the field of classics.

Other such series include the "Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum" (Etruscan inscriptions), "Corpus Inscriptionum Crucesignatorum Terrae Sanctae" (Crusaders' inscriptions), "Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum," (Celtic inscriptions), "Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum" (Iranian inscriptions) and so forth.

Notable inscriptions

* Res Gestae Divi Augusti
* Rosetta Stone
* Behistun Inscription
* Decree of Themistocles
* Dipylon inscription
* Edicts of Ashoka
* Laguna Copperplate Inscription
* Inscription of Abercius
* Malia altar stone
* Phaistos Disc
* Pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions
* Orkhon inscriptions
* Duenos Inscription
* Bryggen inscriptions
* Bitola inscription
* Shugborough House inscription
* Thebes tablets

Types of inscription

*Epitaph on a headstone
*Ex libris
*Hero stone
*History of Latin
*Indian inscriptions
* Copper plate inscriptions
*Memento mori
*Monumental inscription
*Ogham inscription

ee also

* Leiden Conventions
* "Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum"
* "Inscriptiones Graecae" and "Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum"
* "Bulletin Epigraphique"
* "L'Année Epigraphique"
* EpiDoc, epigraphic markup in XML
* Writing systems, a general review and survey
* Petroglyph
* Ogham Other studies of the writing of texts include:
* Palaeography, the study of handwriting, often a basis for dating a document or even an inscription, (further links available in Palaeography article);
* Papyrology, the study of manuscripts written on papyrus;
* Numismatics, the study of coins;
* Graffiti, informal scratched texts, more individual than official;
* Orthography, the set, the rules and structure of a writing system;
* Typography, selection and arrangement of type;

External links

* [http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/altg/eck/aiegl.html L'Association Internationale d'Épigraphie Grecque et Latine]
* [http://www.case.edu/artsci/clsc/asgle/ American Society for Greek and Latin Epigraphy]
* [http://www.currentepigraphy.org Current Epigraphy] (blog)
* [http://www.eagle-eagle.it/ Electronic Archives of Greek and Latin Epigraphy] , comprising:
** [http://www.epigraphische-datenbank-heidelberg.de/ Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg] (Provincial insciptions)
* [http://www.moesia-superior.rs/ Inscriptions de la Mésie supérieure]
** [http://www.edr-edr.it/ Epigraphic Database Roma] (Italian inscriptions)
** [http://www.edb.uniba.it/ Epigraphic Database Bari] (Late Antique/Christian inscriptions)
* [http://www.ubi-erat-lupa.org/ Ubi Erat Lupa: Many epigraphic resources and searchable catalogues]
* [http://www.manfredclauss.de/ Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss-Slaby]
* [http://www.csad.ox.ac.uk/ Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford University]
* [http://epigraphy.packhum.org/inscriptions/ Searchable Greek Inscriptions] from the Packard Humanities Institute
* [http://www.antiquite.ens.fr/txt/dsa-publications-guidepigraphiste-fr.htm Guide de l'épigraphiste]
* [http://insaph.kcl.ac.uk/iaph2007 Inscriptions of Aphrodisias] (2007 publications of texts from the Greek city of Aphrodisias in Asia Minor)
* [http://usepigraphy.brown.edu/ US Epigraphy Project] (inscriptions in North American collections catalogued by Professor John Bodel)
* [http://recherche.univ-montp3.fr/cercam/article.php3?id_article=413 Jean-Marie Lassère] , "Manuel d’épigraphie romaine". Paris: Picard, Antiquité-synthèses, 2007, 2 volumes, 1167 pages (second edition, first edition in 2005).
* [ Religious Epithet in Orissan Inscription - India]
* [http://www.flickr.com/groups/visible_words/ Visibile Parlare - Visible Words (Latin)]
* [http://www.flickr.com/groups/562831@N24/ Visibile Parlare - Visible Words (Greek)]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Epigraphy — E*pig ra*phy, n. The science of inscriptions; the art of engraving inscriptions or of deciphering them. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • epigraphy — [ē pig′rə fē, ipig′rə fē] n. 1. inscriptions collectively 2. the study that deals with deciphering, interpreting, and classifying inscriptions, esp. ancient inscriptions …   English World dictionary

  • epigraphy — epigraphist, epigrapher, n. /i pig reuh fee/, n. 1. the study or science of epigraphs or inscriptions, esp. of ancient inscriptions. 2. inscriptions collectively. [1850 55; EPIGRAPH + Y3] * * * ▪ historiography Introduction  the study of written… …   Universalium

  • epigraphy — noun Date: 1851 1. epigraphs, inscriptions 2. the study of inscriptions; especially the deciphering of ancient inscriptions …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • epigraphy — noun a) inscriptions collectively b) the study or decipherment of inscriptions, especially of ancient ones See Also: epigraph, epigrapher, epigraphist …   Wiktionary

  • epigraphy — The study of inscriptions on ancient buildings and statues, many of which are relevant to the NT. After discovery, they are deciphered and then related to the history of the period. For example, that officials at Thessalonica were called… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • epigraphy — n. study of epigraphs, study of inscriptions (especially ancient inscriptions) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • epigraphy — [ɪ pɪgrəfi, ɛ ] noun the study and interpretation of ancient inscriptions. Derivatives epigrapher noun epigraphic adjective epigraphical adjective epigraphically adverb epigraphist …   English new terms dictionary

  • epigraphy — epig·ra·phy …   English syllables

  • epigraphy — e•pig•ra•phy [[t]ɪˈpɪg rə fi[/t]] n. 1) the study of epigraphs or inscriptions, esp. ancient inscriptions 2) inscriptions collectively • Etymology: 1850–55 e•pig′ra•phist, e•pig′ra•pher, n …   From formal English to slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”