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Reading in transliteration: χọθiọṣ
Reading in original script: Ψ4 dO dΘ5 dI dO d?
Variant reading: χọθiọị
Ψ4 dO dΘ5 dI dO dI d

Object: NO·29 Castelletto sopra Ticino (slab)
Position: front
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
Number of letters: 6
Number of words: 1
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: carved
Condition: damaged

Archaeological culture: Golasecca I C, Golasecca II A [from object]
Date of inscription: 7th–mid-6th century BC [from object]

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

Alternative sigla: none

Sources: Gambari 2011: 19


First published in Gambari 2011: 19.

Image in Gambari 2011: 20, fig. 3 (photo = Gambari 2018: 37, fig. 4 [in colour; referred to as fig. 2 in the text p. 34 – the correct caption is indeed that of fig. 2]).

Our reading follows Gambari 2011 (also Gambari 2018: 34). Chi, theta and iota are clearly legible; both omicrons are uncertain, but their presence can be inferred from their small size and rounded lines. It is uncertain whether the breaking edge after sigma/iota predates the inscription or whether the inscription is incomplete.

The sequence is most likely a personal name in -i̯o‎; as pointed out by Gambari, the ending could be nom. sg. -os, gen. sg. -oi̯so (if incomplete), or, theoretically, an archaic dat. sg. -ōi̯ (see -oi̯ for other forms in -oi). The uncertainty concerning the function or functions of theta and chi in the archaic Lepontic alphabet (see North Italic Script) make the identification of the name base difficult; Gambari plausibly suggests kott-.

The situation of the stone in a settlement rather than a necropolis and its crude shape make an identification as a gravestone unlikely; Gambari proposes that stone and inscription marked the named person's property, possibly in a workshop context.

Gambari 2011: 19 proposes a dating to the third quarter of the 7th century BC based on the forms of chi and theta and the writing direction, but the reasoning is not clear to me. Chi Ψ4 d is a standard form that occurs throughout the phases of the Lepontic alphabet; theta Θ5 d is only attested here, and the only other variant with circle and cross Θ2 d (NM·6.1) dates to the 4th century BC.

Corinna Salomon


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.
Gambari 2018 Filippo M. Gambari, "Un alfabeto antico per lingue nuove. Le prime attestazioni delle lingue celtiche nelle epigrafi preromane della lombardia occidentale", in: Cristina Miedico (ed.), Le voci degli altri. Linguaggi, parole e alfabeti inconsueti nella Lombardia antica, Angera: 2018, 31–41.