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Reading in transliteration: ritukaḷos
Reading in original script: R dI dT dU dK dA21 dL3 dO2 dS d

Object: MI·7 Cernusco sul Naviglio (amphora)
(Inscriptions: MI·7.1, MI·7.2)
Position: top, outside
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: perh. North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
Number of letters: 9
Number of words: 1
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: scratched
Condition: unknown

Archaeological culture: unknown [from object]
Date of inscription: 2nd–1st c. BC [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: Celtic
Meaning: 'Ritukalos' (?)

Alternative sigla: Whatmough 1933 (PID): 280
Tibiletti Bruno 1981: 28
Solinas 1995: 97
Morandi 2004: 136

Sources: Morandi 2004: 613 no. 136



First published by Biraghi 1849.

Images in Biraghi 1849 opposite the title page, fig. 1 (drawing = Ghezzi 1911: 27, tav. II = Bruno & Sorisi 1994: 23, fig. 26 = Morandi 2001: 15 = Morandi 2004: 620, fig. 18), Biraghi 1851: 3 (drawing = CIL V 664*), CIL V 8111.4 (drawing), Poggi 1879: ? (drawing = Pauli 1885: Taf. I.22 = Giussani 1902: 51, fig. 17).

Inscribed on the outside of the lid of the amphora (Biraghi 1849: 5); Biraghi's drawing of the object (fig. 2) shows the inscription running along the rim of the lid with the top of the letters pointing outward, while the line appears to be running straight across the lid in the drawing by the Scuola di Disegno industriale. Since the object is untraceable, the only sources are the drawings of Biraghi (in two only slightly different versions), Mommsen in the CIL, and Poggi (reproduced by Pauli; I cannot find the drawing in Poggi's publication). Biraghi (1851: 5 f.) is adamant about the document being authentic, but his Latin reading (MI·7.1 and MI·7.2 together) is not quite credible. His reading of the present line is: R dI s.T sU s.K dA22 dL3 d.addQ1 dL3 d = d(iis) i(nferis) XV kal(endas) Q(uinti)l(is) 'to the gods below; on the 15th day before the calends of Quintilis'. The line is included in the CIL (V 8111.4), but no reading is given.

While the alphabet and language of the more difficult lines inscribed on the amphora's body (MI·7.2) remain debatable, the line inscribed on the lid is generally regarded as alphabetically and linguistically Celtic with some confidence. This is due to all drawings of this line showing surprisingly unambiguous and meaningful Lepontic letter forms – including Biraghi's despite the fact that Biraghi had no notion of a non-Latin reading, and – four years before Mommsen 1853 – none of North Italic writing in general. Alpha is given above as it appears in all drawings, viz. with an oblique hasta and short upper bar, though A22 d might be inferred. The only problem is constituted by the seventh letter, which looks like sigma S d in Biraghi's drawing, but like lambda with a downward-pointing bar at the bottom in Mommsen's and Poggi's – a form known from Latin cursive script, but not from the Lepontic alphabet. The reading of a Celtic personal name ritukalos goes back to Poggi 1879: 311, no. 49; see also Pauli 1885: 11, no. 22, Giussani 1902: 51, Rhŷs 1913: 44 f., no. 4 (2), Jacobsohn 1927: 31, no. 200 a, PID: 97 f., no. 280, Pisani 1964: 283, no. 120B, Lejeune 1971: 57, Tibiletti Bruno 1978: 150, Tibiletti Bruno 1981: 184 f., no. 28, Solinas 1995: 363, no. 97, Motta 2000: 212 f., Morandi 2001: 15, Morandi 2004: 613, no. 136.

It cannot be denied, however, that all letters could be Latin as well as Lepontic. Unambiguously Lepontic features are only found in the shortened bar of alpha, which may be due to sloppy writing (or drawing), and in retrograde sigma, whose exaggerated zig-zag makes the reading questionable. Biraghi's identification of a date XV KAL is judged valid by Bellomo & Gazzoli 2019: 28. See MI·7.2 for further considerations on the inscription's authenticity and the plausibility of a Lepontic reading.

Corinna Salomon


Bellomo & Gazzoli 2019 Michele Bellomo, Silvia Gazzoli, "Monsignor Luigi Biraghi e i falsi di Cernusco", in: Lorenzo Calvelli (ed.), La falsificazione epigrafica: Questioni di metodo e casi di studio, Venezia: Edizioni Ca' Foscari 2019, 15–30.
Biraghi 1849 Luigi Biraghi, Epitafio romano su di un' olla cineraria scoperta a Cernusco Asinario, Monza: Tipografia Corbetta 1849.
Biraghi 1851 Luigi Biraghi, Illustrazione archeologica dell'epitafio romano scritto su di un'olla cineraria dissotterrata a Cernusco Asinario provincia di Milano nel 1849, Milano: Tipografia Boniardi-Pogliani 1851.
Bruno & Sorisi 1994 Silvio Bruno, Giuseppe Sorisi, Cernusco sul Naviglio. Attraverso la storia e le sue cartoline, Cernusco sul Naviglio: La Martesana 1994.
CIL Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. (17 volumes, various supplements)
Ghezzi 1911 Luigi Ghezzi, Cisnusculum. Memorie storiche relative a Cernusco sul Naviglio, Monza: 1911.
Giussani 1902 A[ntonio] Giussani, "L' iscrizione nord-etrusca di Tesserete e le altre iscrizioni pre-romane del nostro territorio", Rivista Archeologica della Provincia e Antica Diocesi di Como 46 (1902), 25–67.