Epigra­phic Data­base Roma (EDR)

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For Renais­sance anti­qua­rians, inscrip­tions attracted parti­cular inte­rest, as both artistic and histo­rical objects. Anti­qua­rians and artists collected inscrip­tions in note­books, or ’sylloges’. At first epigra­phic texts were grouped toge­ther with personal letters, prayers or other short texts, but later the tran­scrip­tion of indi­vi­dual texts took on a more anti­qua­rian character, with closer atten­tion paid to the form of the inscrip­tions and to their appearance as objects. Inscrip­tions were there­fore no longer valued solely for their textual content, but as an inde­pen­dent type of monument.

The project funded by the Deut­schen Akade­mi­schen Austausch­dienst (DAAD) that Dr. Anto­nella Ferraro carried out at the Census was focused on the methods anti­qua­rians used to record epigra­phic monu­ments, espe­cially with regard to level of atten­tion they paid to the visual appearance of inscrip­tions. In some cases, their drawings or tran­scrip­tions of inscrip­tions offer the only record of antique objects that have been destroyed or lost. Even when origi­nals are preserved, however, compa­rison with written sources allows us to track changes in their condi­tion, or to iden­tify the personal inter­ven­tions (perhaps with the intent of falsi­fi­ca­tion) of early modern draft­smen or scribes.

The Census data­base curr­ently records around 870 Latin inscrip­tions known from all over Italy, some of them on buil­dings, bases, or altars. These were docu­mented in the huma­nist sylloges that formed the basis for this study.

In her four months working with the Census (1 February to 31 May, 2017), Anto­nella Ferraro checked all of the inscrip­tions in the Census data­base and inserted these into the Epigra­phic Data­base Roma (EDR) when entries for were not already extant. The EDR data­base is part of the inter­na­tional network of epigra­phic data­bases EAGLE (Elec­tronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy). This network aims to record all Greek and Latin inscrip­tions from Rome, main­land Italy, Sicily and Sardinia dating before the 7th century CE, using the most reli­able docu­men­ta­tion. The results are directly and freely acces­sible online.

By analy­sing this data and compa­ring it with other case studies, it was possible to trace the modus operandi of the anti­qua­rians and artists who first compiled the Latin inscrip­tions present in the Census, allowing for a better under­stan­ding of motives behind the decisions they made when recording them.