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Reading in transliteration: sekene·i·
Reading in original script: S sE dK5 dE dN dE dpunctuation2 dI dpunctuation2 d

Object: MN·1 Bagnolo San Vito (aes)
Position: front
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: North Italic script (Venetic alphabet)
Letter height: 1–2 cm0.394 in <br />0.787 in <br />
Number of letters: 7
Number of words: 1
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: chased
Condition: unknown

Archaeological culture: unknown [from object]
Date of inscription: 5th century BC [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: perhaps Celtic
Meaning: 'for/to Sekenis' (?)

Alternative sigla: Morandi 2004: 250

Sources: Morandi 2004: 680 f. no. 250


First published in De Marinis 1985: 202–204, no. 3.

Images in De Marinis 1985: 203 (drawing = Pandolfini 1986: 119, fig. 47.245 = De Marinis 2005: 68, fig. 23.3) and tav. XXVII, 3 (photo = De Marinis 2005: 69, fig. 24).

Well legible; applied with a V-shaped tool (De Marinis 1985: 203). The letters fit nicely on the small surface – especially the shortness of sigma to fit neatly into the protrusion on the left indicates that both object and inscription are complete (pace Morandi).

Alphabet-wise, the inscription is unlike the Etruscan documents from the area of Mantova, specifically in the writing direction, the form of nu, and the use of syllabic punctuation (De Marinis 1985: 203). Because of the latter feature, the alphabet is classified as Venetic (Agostiniani 1996: 11 f., Prosdocimi 1986d, Prosdocimi 1987: 576); none of the letter forms are specifically Venetic. (Cf. TI·19 and BS·1 for other instances of syllabic punctuation in the corpus.) Only Colonna 1986: 62 (n. 32) argues that the punctuation must not necessarily be Venetic, but could be Etruscan (critical Prosdocimi 1986d).

Apart from De Marinis in the original publication (see below), scholars have analysed the sequence as a personal name. Colonna 1986: 62 (n. 32) reads a feminine Etruscan nomen in -nei, comparing Etr. secnes etc. Cristofani 1985: 278 classifies the inscription as "senza umbra di dubbio" linguistically Venetic and reads a personal name in -genes (Ven. voltigenes, enogenes) in the dative -ei. Agostiniani 1996: 11 f. follows Cristofani in identifying -ei as a Venetic dative, but compares seken- to bellen- (*Pa 25 tivalei bellenei), analysing both as on-stem hypocoristics to Celtic compound names (see the word page; also Prosdocimi 1986e: 86, Prosdocimi 1986d, Prosdocimi 1987: 576). Morandi alternatively compares CO·75 siki and points out that, with regard to the possibly Celtic base, the dative -ei̯ could perfectly well also be Celtic. De Marinis 1985: 204 mentions a possible comparandum in the toponym vicus secenia (Farini, Piacenza) on the Tabula Alimentaria (CIL XI 1147); a PN secenus (CIL II 5333, Talavera de la Reina) is listed in AcS II: 1425.

To sum up, it is certainly most reasonable to assume that the alphabet in which the inscription is written is a Venetic phase-2 one. The linguistic make-up of the text is less clear. Cristofani's segmentation leaves inconveniently short se-; both Cristofani's Venetic and Agostiniani's Celto-Venetic analyses are made doubtful by the spelling of /g/ with kappa, as the Venetic alphabets are consistent in the spelling of obstruents – Agostiniani (n. 17) speculates that Celtic /k/ could be equated with Venetic /g/ and that the use of kappa is hypercorrect. More plausible is the suggestion by Prosdocimi & Marinetti 1991: 441 that kappa denotes /k/ as the result of hypocoristic strengthening. Still, it cannot be excluded that despite the Venetic alphabet the language of the inscription is a different one. Colonna's Etruscan nomen is, I believe, formally unobjectionable, but an Etruscan name in Venetic script would be surprising in the context of the many regular Etruscan documents of the Mantovan area. Morandi's full Celtic reading is more plausible in that regard, but a Celtic suffix -en- is opaque. The exact position of the inscription between Venetic, Celtic and Etruscan remains to be determined.

As concerns the function of the inscription, De Marinis in the original publication compares Gr. σήκος 'weight' with reference to the support and suggests that final iota represents the numeral '1'. Colonna 1986: 63 (mentioning two other inscribed pieces of aes rude from Etruscan context) and Agostiniani 1996: 12 f. interpret the sequence as the name of the authority who guarantees the weight and value of the piece, the latter arguing that the Venetic genitive can mark possession – sceptical Prosdocimi 1986d, who expects that a dative form names the recipient of a gift. The piece of bronze could indeed be a (votive or secular) gift of money. The original context of the object is unfortunately unknown, but since pieces of aes rude are known to have been put in graves by way of an obol (Cattani 1986: 204), it might also be considered that the inscription marks out the piece as intended as Sekenis' payment to Charon (though no graves have so far been found in Forcello).

Morandi 2004: 680 dates the inscription to the late 5th century BC, probably based on palaeography (syllabic punctuation?).

Corinna Salomon


AcS Alfred Holder, Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz, Leipzig: Teubner 1896–1907.
Agostiniani 1996 Luciano Agostiniani, "Relazione di possesso e marcatura di caso in Venetico", Studi orientali e linguistici 6 (1995–1996), 9–28.
Cattani 1986 Maurizio Cattani, "Aes rude", in: Raffaele De Marinis (ed.), Gli Etruschi a nord del Po. Mantova Palazzo Ducale - Galleria dell'Estivale, 21 settembre - 12 gennaio 1987, Mantova: 1986–1987. (catalogo della mostra, 2 volumes: vol. I 1986, vol. II 1987), I 204–210.
Colonna 1986 Giovanni Colonna, "La piú [sic] antica iscrizione di Bologna", Studi e Documenti di Archeologia 2 (1986), 57–66.
Cristofani 1985 Mauro Cristofani (Ed.), Die Etrusker, Stuttgart: Belser 1985.
De Marinis 1985 Raffaele C. De Marinis, "Mantua", Studi Etruschi 51 (1983 [1985]), 196–213.
De Marinis 2005 Raffaele C. De Marinis, "Le iscrizioni etrusche del Forcello", in: Raffaele C. De Marinis, Marta Rapi (eds), L’abitato etrusco del Forcello di Bagnolo S. Vito (Mantova) – le fasi arcaiche. Volume realizzato in occasione della mostra Gli Etruschi a Nord del Po. Le fasi di età arcaica dell'abitato del Forcello di Bagnolo S. Vito, Bagnolo S. Vito (MN), Villa Riva Berni, 18 febbraio - 20 marzo 2005, Firenze: 2005, 57–76.