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Reading in transliteration: acetabla VIII
Reading in original script: A22 sC dE7 dT2 dA22 sB dL dA22 s 5 (character) d1 (character) d1 (character) d1 (character) d

Object: BG·36 Verdello (cup)
(Inscriptions: BG·36.1, BG·36.2)
Position: outside, wall
Orientation: 180°
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: Latin script
Number of letters: 12
Number of words: 2
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: scratched after firing
Condition: complete

Archaeological culture: Augustan [from object]
Date of inscription: 20–1 BC [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: Latin
Meaning: 'vinegar bowls 8'

Alternative sigla: Morandi 2004: 293

Sources: Morandi 2004: 714 f. no. 293


First published in Morandi 2003: 130–132, no. 12.

Images in Jorio 2003: 206, 1.2 (drawing), Morandi 2003: 130, fig. 13 and 131, fig. 14 (photos) and 131 (drawing), Morandi 2007: 301, fig. 300 (photo = Morandi 2010: 57, fig. 13).

Inscribed upside-down on the wall of the cup. The alphabet is Latin with cursive features in epsilon, lambda and alpha (turned against writing direction – cf. BG·36.2 and BG·22, BG·29 and BG·31 for similar forms of alpha in late Lepontic-alphabet inscriptions from the Bergamo area). The text is a Latin plural acetabula 'vinegar bowls', followed by the number '8'. Morandi 2003: 131 suggests that the cup is one of eight such vessels deposited in the grave at the burial, though – as he himself points out – only two cups, the other also with inscription (BG·35), were found in the intact grave. Also mentioned, but judged irrelevant by Morandi (also 2004 and Morandi 2007: 301, no. 33) is the similarity of the whole document, including the probable abbreviated personal name in BG·36.2 written on the foot, with entries in the pottery lists of the Gaulish terra sigillata production centre La Graufesenque, which include the potter's name, the type of manufactured vessel in the plural, and the number of vessels – cf. Marichal 1988 no. 13, line 13: masueto acitabli VII D 'Masueto: 7500 acetabula' (with the Latin word inflected as a masculine, see Adams 2003: 700 f.) and especially no.s 163–168 as well as RIG L-30l, L-30o, *L-35.5, short entries including only one potter's name, or only objects and numbers, which can be interpreted as production notes delivered with the manufactured pieces from which the ultimate lists were compiled (cf. Mullen 2023: 146 f.), e.g. *L-35.5 aricani parab(sides) V[. Pottery lists from Italian production centres are only attested sporadically, possibly because they were written on perishable materials (cf. Mullen 2023: 151 f. with a list of potential examples, esp. Camodeca 2006), but the present document finds its best comparanda in this text type (generally on Italian terra sigillata production: Kenrick 2006). How it found its way into a grave can be left open to conjecture – were notes and lists written on damaged goods which could then be sold off cheap? Were thus used objects considered waste and could be taken home by the potters? Was the writing considered a value-increasing feature by illiterate owners, did literate ones not mind the random inscription – or was the deceased (probably a male of 20–30 years, see Cattaneo et al. 2003: 220 f.) the potter? Cf. Salomon 2022: 186 f.

Corinna Salomon


Adams 2003 James N. Adams, Bilingualism and the Latin Language, Cambridge: 2003.
Camodeca 2006 Giuseppe Camodeca, "Graffito con conto di infornata di sigillata tardo-italica da Isloa di Migliarino (Pisa)", in: Simonetta Menchelli, Marinella Pasquinucci (eds), Territorio e produzioni ceramiche. Paesaggi, economia e società in età romana. Atti del Convegno Internazionale, Pisa, 20-22 ottobre 2005 [= Instrumenta 2], Pisa: 2006, 207–216.
Cattaneo et al. 2003 Cristina Cattaneo, Cristina Ravedoni, Loretana Salvadei, "Analisi antropologiche sui resti scheletrici", in: Maria Fortunati, Lelio Pagani, Raffaella Poggiani Keller (eds), Verdello. Dalle origini all'altomedioevo. Ricerche archeologice e storiche, Verdello: 2003, 217–222.