E for Epigraphy

The interpretation of inscriptions has a very long history.

Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writing and the writers.

A person using the methods of epigraphy is called an epigrapher or epigraphist


Tablets of Stone
The Tables of the Law as they are widely known in English, or Tablets of Stone, Stone Tablets, or Tablets of Testimony in the Hebrew Bible, were the two pieces of stone inscribed with the Ten Commandments when Moses ascended Mount Sinai as written in the Book of Exodus. Exodus 31:18 refers to the tablets as the “Tablets of (the) Testimony”.


However, from the very beginning, inscriptions have been problematical.

On the one hand:

The purist school of thought believes inscriptions are an infallible source of information.

Tablets of Stone

According to the Bible, there were two sets.
The first, inscribed by God, (Exodus 31:18)…


On the other hand:

The political school of thought knows inscriptions can be “smashed” and “rewritten”.

Tablets of Stone

According to the Bible, there were two sets.

The first, inscribed by God, (Exodus 31:18) were smashed by Moses when he was enraged by the sight of the Children of Israel worshipping a golden calf (Exodus 32:19) and the second were later cut and rewritten by Moses. (Exodus 34:28)


Unsurprisingly, these two competing schools of thought are alive and kicking in academia.

The Purist School of Epigraphy
In the scholarly world of epigraphy the purists are usually condemned to a life of [mainly] honest toil in some neglected recess of the academic archives.

The art of the purist attempts to [honestly] decipher and translate epigraphic texts.

One of the chief difficulties in deciphering Latin Inscriptions lies in the very extensive use of initials and abbreviations.

Often the same initial may have many different meanings according to the context.

Some common formulae such as V.S.L.M. (votum solvit libens merito), or H.M.H.N.S. (hoc monumentum heredem non sequetur) offer little difficulty, but there are many which are not so obvious and leave room for conjecture.

Often the only way to determine the meaning is to search through a list of initials, such as those given by modern Latin epigraphists, until a formula is found which fits the context.


The Political School of Epigraphy
In the scholarly world of epigraphy the politicians manage the historical narrative.

The nefarious arts of the political epigraphist are a wonder to behold.

Firstly, political epigraphists ensure the purists are “specifically excluded” from determining the “historical significance” of an epigraph.

In other words:

Inscriptions are still [effectively] “smashed” and/or “rewritten” by political epigraphists.

Specifically excluded from epigraphy are the historical significance of an epigraph as a document and the artistic value of a literary composition.


Secondly, in keeping with modern times, the political epigraphists assert the art of epigraphy is a “science”.

Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writing and the writers.


Thirdly, the political epigraphists ensure the purists are correctly indoctrinated so that they don’t go [too far] off message.

These are of great number and variety, and while some of them can be easily interpreted as belonging to well-known formulae, others offer considerable difficulty, especially to the inexperienced student.


Arguably, it’s in the realm of Latin inscriptions that the political epigraphists are having the greatest difficulty keeping the epigraphic narrative on message.

Firstly, the epigraphic evidence suggests Rome wasn’t the centre of the Latin universe.


Secondly, the distribution of Latin inscriptions [above] provides more than a hint that unprotected oceanic [i.e. Western] coastlines catastrophically lost [via tsunamis] Latin inscriptions. The graduated distributions in North Western Africa, Iberia and France are particularly striking.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/the-heinsohn-horizon-four-sackings-and-a-tsunami/

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/03/roman-chronology-the-etruscan-mystery/

Thirdly, the epigraphic evidence suggests “Roman times” was an era of “independent” city states.

Latin inscriptions

As regards the contents of inscriptions, there must evidently be a considerable difference between records of a number of independent city states and an empire including almost all the civilised world; but municipalities maintained much of their independent traditions in Roman times, and consequently their inscriptions often follow the old formulas.


Undoubtedly, serendipity will [at some point] furnish a few fun Latin inscriptions…

Gallery | This entry was posted in Catastrophism, Epigraphy - Inscriptions, Heinsohn Horizon, History, Language, Latin Languages, Roman Chronology. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to E for Epigraphy

  1. John Miller says:

    Are all ‘Latin inscriptions’ actually Latin? If something is just written in initials, could it not actually be the initials in another language?

  2. kuhnkat says:

    Exo 34:27  And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. 
    Exo 34:28  And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. 

  3. malagabay says:

    That’s a really excellent question!
    It’s also a question I’m researching at the moment.
    More to follow in my next post…

  4. The “Golden calf” is also known as “the Phoenix” and went on to define the peoples of the Eastern and later western and southern, Med:- Phoenicians. Poeni.

    They were worshipping Venus in rampant form, engaging in plasma attack upon the Earth. It was the first appearance of this bird as Venus had just appeared. It seems that awareness of the recurring phoenix is now termed “The Event”. It seems to be expected in our near future.

    The Phoenix caused Santorini and the collapse of the Minoan civilization. It also caused the Sun to appear in suspense and then reverse itself, making west into east, occident into orient.

    Your work may help to acquaint others with the danger posed. I urge you to turn your scholarship to that and most importantly, to the recurrences so as to enable a better way to predict the next “Event”.

  5. The last Iraq war was for reasons other than as stated. Saddaam Hussein had already died and replacements had to be found. The trial of a lookalike was a jike, absent sound we could not tell that it was not the dictator puppet of the USA.

    One reason was to ransack the Museums, to cover what was really being sought. I wonder what that was?

  6. Look at Fraser Island and the other sand islands off the queensland coast. All deposited there, by tsunami, originating at Taranaki.

    Apparently, the Chinese fleet was destroyed there in the 14/5th Century?

    NOW, THAT’s a tsunami!

    Also for even more, look inland and see the ripples left by the water… 200 metres high and 30 kilometres long.

    Then consider: dinosaurs are found smashed together, inland, covered by many feet of lime or sand. All continents have salt lakes, the remnants of the Great Tsunami…..

  7. Pingback: M for Marcus | MalagaBay

  8. Pingback: G for Gothicus | MalagaBay

  9. Pingback: P for Pederasty | MalagaBay

  10. Pingback: Roads to Rome | MalagaBay

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