From Lexicon Leponticum
Jump to navigationJump to search
Reading in transliteration: artebuθzbroχθui
Reading in original script: I sU6 saddΘ1 sΨ4 sO sR sB saddZ2 saddΘ1 sU6 sB sE9 sT5 dR sA6 s

Object: PD·2 Hajdina (pot)
Position: outside, wall
Direction of writing: sinistroverse
Script: unknown
Letter height: 1.2–2.6 cm0.472 in <br />1.024 in <br />
Number of letters: 15
Number of words: 2
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: scratched after firing
Condition: complete

Archaeological culture: Roman imperial period [from object]
Date of inscription: 2nd–3rd century AD [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: prob. Celtic
Meaning: 'Artebuds son of Brogduos' (?)

Alternative sigla: none

Sources: Eichner et al. 1994: 132–138



First published in Eichner et al. 1994: 132–138.

Images in Eichner et al. 1994: 132, Abb. 1 (photo of the first five letters) and 133–136, Abb. 3–14 (drawing), and Istenič 2000: pl. 115,9 (drawing).

Length 20.3 cm; inscribed horizontally, sloping slightly downward, on the outer wall of the pot at its widest part. The last and first letter are 6 cm apart. The letters are well legible, especially in the areas where the glaze has not rubbed off (letters 1–3, 11–13). See Eichner et al. 1994: 134–136 for detailed measurements of the individual characters. The inscription begins with small letters which get ever larger; both betas with their difficult-to-scratch two pockets are considerably taller than the respective previous letters, and both times the writer carried on in the larger letter size. As pointed out by Eichner, omicron is clearly intended to not be full-size, but final iota appears to be longer than Eichner saw and reach the height of preceding upsilon. Final upsilon and iota are somewhat off-set, with a distance of 1.2 cm from the previous letter. Two (unintentional?) horizontal scratches are situated in this gap.

Our transcription follows Eichner's analysis. The alphabet used in the inscription shows a combination of letter forms and orthographic features which is not known from any other alphabet in Northern Italy (or anywhere else). Only rho R s, chi Ψ4 s, omicron O s and iota I s (the latter may be short) have forms which can be considered unremarkable in North Italic context. Upsilon U6 s is well-known in archaic Greek and Italic alphabets, but marginal or absent in the North Italic ones. Forms of tau with the bar not crossing the hasta like addT2 s occur at Adria (Ad 1–12) and in the alphabetically Etruscan MN·2, but retrograde; Raetic Sanzeno tau addT2 s is only similar in concept. Eichner's identification of addΘ1 s as theta is (implicitly) based on the presence of beta and phonotactic reasons, but the phi-like form is unknown in Northern Italy. The letter addZ2 s, astutely identified as zeta by Eichner, occurs in the Raetic inscription PU-1, where it most probably denotes a media or lenis according to Venetic Este orthography. The remaining letters beta B s, epsilon E4 s and alpha addA2 s are Latin, alpha without a bar being the cursive form.

The alphabet is obviously Latinised, as appropriate for the late dating of the object. Assuming that the language is Indo-European, the spelling of obstruents is not in agreement with any rules in North Italic alphabets. Pi and kappa are absent. Latin beta denotes /b/, but chi is still used for /g/ as in Venetic and Lepontic. The use of tau for /t/ and theta for /d/ precludes the assumption that we are concerned with a Latinised Venetic alphabet, as all Venetic alphabets have switched the dental letters. Zeta appears to function as a letter for a dental affricate as in Etruscan, if it is used to denote an awkward cluster of tau gallicum plus -s (see artebuθz), or possibly for a sibilant, certainly not for a dental stop like in the Este alphabet and in PU-1. If anything, the alphabet looks like an Etruscan alphabet adapted ad-hoc to write Indo-European with some Latin inspiration, but this is hardly feasible in Imperial-age Poetovio. We will have to consider an older local alphabet, attested only in a single late Latinised inscription. Eichner (p. 137 f.) assumes that this alphabet was formed around the middle of the 1st millennium BC (with reference to archaic upsilon) and that the present inscription is the solitary witness of an independent, possibly Celtic, script province in the Eastern Alps. In any case, it is, as Eichner also points out, very surprising to find Old Italic/North Italic letter forms this late, as the vernacular writing traditions of Northern Italy are generally considerd to have ceased in the late 1st century BC.

Eichner's interpretation of the text as two or one bipartite Celtic name(s) is reasonable, even if, as he himself observes, neither name is otherwise attested. Eichner (p. 136 f.) suggests three possible analyses of the second name and consequently the whole text:
1. brogdui as patronymic genitive brogdu → 'Artebuds son of Brogduos'
2. brogdui as benefactive genitive brogdu → 'Artebuds for Brogduos'
3. brogdui as dative brogd-ūi̯ → 'Artebuds for Brogdos'.
Eichner prefers the third option and interprets brogdos as a theonym (see the word page). Observing that votive inscriptions would not necessarily be expected in a grave, he compares the possible Venetic votive inscription Is 1/Is 2, also from grave contexts. We prefer option 1 with the more common bipartite name and patronymic genitive, but as long as no comparanda for a name brogd(u)os appear, the interpretation and text type must be considered uncertain.

The inscription with its Celtic reading has been included in LexLep for its technically Cisalpine find place, the graphically North Italic elements of its alphabet, and because it is not covered by any other epigraphic corpus. Considering the easterly find place of the inscription and its late dating, the linguistic material is hardly Cisalpine Gaulish (let alone Lepontic), but rather belongs to an Ambi-Danubian Celtic (Tauriscan?) filum.


Eichner et al. 1994 Heiner Eichner, Janka Istenič, Milan Lovenjak, "Ein römerzeitliches Keramikgefäß aus Ptuj (Pettau, Poetovio) in Slowenien mit Inschrift in unbekanntem Alphabet und epichorischer (vermutlich keltischer) Sprache", Arheološki vestnik 45 (1994), 131–142.