NO·27 Dormelletto

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Classification: stela

Material: stone
Size: height 100.5 cm, breadth 45 cm, thickness 25 cm
Condition: complete

Archaeological culture: La Tène C
Date: second half of the 2nd century BC
Date derived from: archaeological context

Site: Dormelletto (Novara, Piemonte, Italy)
Archaeological context: structure 120
(Objects: NO·27 Dormelletto, NO·28 Dormelletto)
Coordinates (approx.): 45° 43' 58.80" N, 8° 34' 1.20" E [from site]
Find date: 2006
Current location: Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Piemonte (Torino)

Inscription: NO·27 (komeuioṣ/kalatikn/os)

Alternative sigla: none

Sources: Spagnolo Garzoli 2007: 254–256


Image in Gambari 2011: 27, fig. 12 (photo).

The stela was found upside down among the stones and slabs in the upper layer of filling material of the large structure no. 120; it appears to have toppled over from where it stood in the centre of the structure's western side (but see below). (Cf. NO·28 Dormelletto, which appears to have been situated in a similar position on the north side.)

The stela, cut from muscovite mica schist, is comparatively small and squat, with an oblique upper edge. The upper half, separated from the lower one with a horizontal line, is decorated with a face framed by an arch above and two sets of concentric circles on either side. The lower half is taken up by the horizontal inscription in three lines. Below the inscription, another two horizontal lines. The stela and its decoration are compared not with Lepontic stelae, but with objects from Transalpine Gaul, specifically the La Tène stela from Eschenburg-Hirzenhain (Hessen) and Iron-age representations of human faces from the Rhône valley and the Provence by Spagnolo Garzoli 2007: 255, who interprets structure 120 as a cenotaph dedicated to ancestor worship. Gambari 2007: 257 also compares the "Christ"-petroglyph of the Vallée des Merveilles (Monte Bégo) (also Gambari 2011: 27). Gambari 2011: 27 f. assumes that structure 120 was a ritual deposit for boundary stones of the necropolis which became obsolete when the latter was enlarged.

The only associated find which may allow a dating of the stela within the timeframe imposed by that of the necropolis (3rd–1st century BC) is a fibula, the only non-stone object found in the filling material of structure 120, which is dated to the middle of the 2nd century BC. This dating agrees with that of tomb 124, which precedes structure 120 stratigraphically; the stela is accordingly dated to the second half of the 2nd century BC by Spagnolo Garzoli 2007: 255 (see also Gambari 2011: 27).

Corinna Salomon


Gambari 2007 Filippo M. Gambari, "Dormelletto. I documenti epigrafici in celtico cisalpino", Quaderni della Soprintendenza Archeologica del Piemonte 22 (2007), 256–259.
Gambari 2011 Filippo Maria Gambari, "Le pietre dei signori del fiume: il cippo iscritto e le stele del primo periodo della cultura di Golasecca", in: Filippo Maria Gambari, Raffaella Cerri (eds), L'alba della città. Le prime necropoli del centro protourbano di Castelletto Ticino, Novara: 2011, 19–32.