Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Epigraphy, Imperial Latin

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1754


Inscriptions are a vital source of information for the politics, society, culture, and religion of the Roman world. This entry examines Latin epigraphy in the age of imperial Rome, from the reign of Augustus (31 BCE–CE 14) to the fall of the empire in western Europe (CE 476).


The study of Latin epigraphy encompasses a range of different types of inscriptions, such as marble statue bases, milestones, bronze military discharge certificates, brick stamps, and engraved household objects. The one common factor is that they were all inscribed, etched, carved, or painted with some sort of text, whether it was a personal name, a dedication, a letter, or a law. This act of inscribing has been dubbed the “epigraphic habit” (MacMullen 1982). Some 250,000 Latin inscriptions have been published to date, with more examples discovered each year. Approximately half of these inscriptions are included in the monumental Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL), a project initiated in...

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Further Reading

  1. The best general introduction to the field of ancient epigraphy is Bodel (2001), which contains a number of thematic essays on both Greek and Latin inscriptions written by leading experts in the field. Keppie (1991) focuses on the Roman period, with particularly helpful sections on the carving of inscriptions and the process of reading, interpreting, and dating epigraphic texts. For Late Antiquity, Trout (2009) provides an authoritative summary of recent work.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of QueenslandSt. Lucia, BrisbaneAustralia