From Lexicon Leponticum
Revision as of 19:32, 9 July 2022 by Corinna Salomon (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search
Reading in transliteration: ṃeśiọlanoXXIIỊỊ[
Reading in original script: M5 dE2 dŚ dI dO3 dL2 dA3 dN dO3 d10 (character) d10 (character) d1 (character) d1 (character) d1 (character) d1 (character) d[

Object: MI·10 Milano (slab)
(Inscriptions: MI·10.1, MI·10.2, MI·10.3, MI·10.4, MI·10.5, MI·10.6, MI·10.7, MI·10.8)
Position: right-hand side
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
Letter height: 1.3–2.4 cm0.512 in <br />0.945 in <br />
Number of letters: 15
Number of words: 2
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: carved
Condition: damaged

Archaeological culture: unknown [from object]
Date of inscription: unknown [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: unknown
Meaning: 'Mediolano 24' or 'from Mediolanum 24'

Alternative sigla: Solinas 1995: 104 a
Morandi 2004: 140 a

Sources: Morandi 2004: 615–617 no. 140 a



First published in Tibiletti Bruno 1986. Examined for LexLep (on the original and on the cast) on 26th April 2022.

Images in Tibiletti Bruno 1986: 100, fig. 1 (photo of a cast) and fig. 2 (drawing of the inscription as on the cast, hence retrograde = Solinas 1995: 365; mirrored in LexLep for easier comparison with the other images), Morandi 2004: 621, fig. 19.140a (drawing) and tav. XXI.140 a, c (photos), Zavaroni et al. 2014: 281, fig. 2 (drawing). Our photo is of the inscription on the cast kept by the Soprintendenza Milano.

Inscribed lengthwise on what is now the right side of the slab (length 16.5 cm); well legible despite some surface damage especially affecting letters 1, 3, 4, 14 and 15. Tibiletti Bruno 1986: 99 describes mu as "[tipo] romano", and indeed the third bar, though oblique, has almost the length of a second hasta; the form seems to be a mix of Lepontic M4 d and Latin M6 s, resulting in what appears to be a typically late Lepontic compromise form M5 s (cf. MI·10.2 and see M). Lambda has the bar on top (or rather a little below the top, as in epsilon and alpha), which is unusual in the Lepontic alphabet, but the letter can be unambiguously identified by the interpretation (see below). The sequence meśiolano is followed by what appears to be a Latin numeral XXIIII '24', though the two crosses have an unusual form with one straight and one oblique line. Tibiletti Bruno 1986: 99–101 reads '23' without the last '1', as does Morandi (p. 615), though the latter's drawing does show the fourth line, whose remains can be clearly seen in the upper area, 1 cm from the breaking edge. The number is thus evidently complete, and so may be the inscription.

The alphabet used is the Lepontic one, but with Latin influence in the form of mu and the writing direction; the numeral appears to be Roman (though we do not really know anything about what Lepontic number writing would look like). See the word page for a discussion of the etymology and grammatical form of the toponym meśiolano, which may be a Latin ablative 'from Milano (24)' or a Celtic nominative 'Milano (24)'. There is debate concerning the function of san in the first element. Tibiletti Bruno 1986: 102–105, 108, based on the most clearly established use of san to denote irregular sibilants, suggests that san represents an assibilated dental before due to a combination of Gaulish accentuation (*medi̯ólānon), vulgar Latin assibilation, and possibly interference from the onomastic base među- 'judgement'. An ad-hoc reflection of palatalisation/assibilation by the possibly bilingual writer can of course not be excluded in this and some other cases of san in the Cisalpine Celtic corpus (cf. also zeta for palatalised/assibilated /t/ in the sekezos-inscriptions), but the circumstances assumed by Tibiletti Bruno are very specific. As Tibiletti Bruno herself observes, -di̯V- was not regularly assibilated in Gaulish (though it may have been in Celtiberian, cf. De Bernardo Stempel 2003: 51, n. 67), and there is no indication of assibilation in the Classical attestations and continuations of the toponym (cf. Stifter 2010: 372; Tibiletti Bruno puts this down to different accentuation). More straightforward is the interpretation of san as denoting /d/ proposed by Stifter 2010: 372, which agrees with all existing attestations and also with the letter's use in MI·10.6.

The cumulative Latin features indicate a low dating for the document (1st century BC?); the slab was built into the the Roman town wall ca. 40/35 BC, and at least some inscriptions must predate this (see the object page). As already proposed by Tibiletti Bruno 1986, the inscription appears to be an indication of distance to/from Milano (depending on whether the form is an ablative or nominative), as on a Roman milestone. The milestone interpretation, the most natural one of the inscription by itself, is further supported by the appearance of the word miliarios 'milestone' (?) in the most noticeable inscription on the stone – while the interpretation of the latter has issues of its own, the combination of the two inscriptions can hardly be coincidental, though it must be observed that they were not written by the same hand or even in the same direction. Also, it is not clear that this inscription, though the longest of the eight, is the first one to be written on the stone and can be used to determine the latter's original function. Assuming that the milestone interpretation is in essence correct, there are a number of questions to be discussed. As observed by Tibiletti Bruno 1986: 102, this is unlike Roman milestone inscriptions. Though the stone when standing upright may have been taller than assumed in the literature (see the object page), the letters are not deeply incised and were thus probably not well visible from a distance; the text formulae of Roman milestones are obviously absent. Tibiletti Bruno 1986: 105, 107 proposes a number of possibilities, e.g. that the stone was not displayed on the side of a street, that it was a trial version for a larger stone, or maybe a minor epichoric companion to an actual Roman milestone. If Zavaroni et al. are correct in thinking that the visible face is merely the side of a much larger slab (see the object page), it might be possible that the Roman inscription is written on one of the large faces, and the Celtic inscriptions on the narrow face are semi-official additions. It is also not evident which measurement is being used. Roman milestones use, unsurprisingly, Roman miles (milia passum), but considering the Celtic context, Celtic leuga, which are longer than Roman miles, are also possible (Tibiletti Bruno 1986: 101, 105, n. 43, 108). This uncertainty, together with the variability of ancient measures (the Roman mile was only standardised in 29 BC) and the fact that the number refers to the actual walking distance, not the linear distance, to/from Milano, probably renders attempts to identify the original locus of the stone pointless (a few suggestions, which include Como and Bergamo, are supplied by Tibiletti Bruno). Why and how the stone ended up in Milano, curiously the very place in which it ought not to be, remains open to conjecture. The possibility that the inscription has nothing to do with MI·10.2 and was applied after the immuration of the stone at Milano should maybe not be entirely ruled out.

Corinna Salomon


De Bernardo Stempel 2003 Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel, "Die sprachliche Analyse keltischer Theonyme (“Fontes Epigraphici Religionis Celticae Antiquae” = F.E.R.C.AN.)", Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 53 (2003), 41-69.