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Epigraphic Database Roma (EDR)

Traditions and Transmissions of Latin Epigraphy from the Renaissance


During the Renaissance, ancient inscribed monuments aroused the greatest amount of interest among humanists for their double value, artistic and historical. These monuments were collected by scholars and artists in some sylloges: in a first phase the epigraphic texts appeared side by side with letters, orations, and short essays, in a second phase the transcription of single texts gradually took on a more scientific aspect, with careful attention paid not only to the layout of the texts, but also to the representation of the physical media of the inscriptions themselves. The inscriptions were no longer solely considered as texts, but also as monuments in their own right.

The work that Antonella Ferraro is carrying out at the Census, supported by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD, seeks to reconstruct the way of working of these antiquarians and scholars of the ancient world, especially in relation to the graphic representation of the inscribed monuments that they included in their own works and collections. In some cases, their drawings or simple transcriptions of the texts represent the only surviving documentation of the originals, which have sadly gone lost. In the cases in which the original object has been conserved, it is then possible, through comparison with the manuscript source, to identify any changes in the state of conservation of the piece, or to detect any intentional (or fraudulent?) changes in the visual representation of the Renaissance author.

Within the Census database, there are approximately 870 Latin inscriptions, carved on buildings, bases, altars or simple plates, all from Italy and present in numerous humanist sylloges, which make them the ideal sample for this kind of study.

In her four months at the Census (February 1st to May 5, 2017), Antonella Ferraro aims to analyse and catalogue ancient inscriptions in the database, and for each of them, to fill out a record from the Epigraphic Database Roma (EDR). This database, which forms part of the international federation of epigraphic databases entitled EAGLE (Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy), proposes recording all inscriptions dating from before the seventh century A.D., both Greek and Latin, from Rome, from across the Italian peninsula, and from Sicily and Sardinia, according to the best existing representation, where possible with additional checks and amendments to the present basic data and images. Filing the Census’ inscribed monuments in the EDR database will bring with it two notable advantages: every EDR file can be connected to the corresponding Census file and vice versa, allowing an immediate transfer of data added to either of the two sources in the future, and thereby allowing a simpler overview of both together; the results of cataloguing will immediately be accessible online and can then be consulted freely through the EDR and Census portals.

Through analysis of the collected data as well as comparison with other case studies, it will be possible to sketch out the modus operandi of the antiquarians and artists who reproduced the Latin inscriptions collected in Census, and their possible motivations for some of their stylistic choices.

Kontakt / Contact

Sitz / office:
Georgenstr. 47, 10117 Berlin
2. OG / second floor
tel.: ++ 49-30-20 93 66 250
fax: ++ 49-30-20 93 66 251

Anschrift / postal address:
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte / Census
Unter den Linden 6
D - 10099 Berlin

Online-Ausstellung / Online Exhibition