From Lexicon Leponticum
Jump to navigationJump to search
Reading in transliteration: ]ni : metalui[
Reading in original script: ]N dI dseparator2 dM4 dE dT4 dA26 dL2 dU10 dI d[

Object: TI·36 Davesco (stela)
(Inscriptions: TI·36.1, TI·36.2, TI·36.3)
Position: back, centre
Orientation: 90°
Frame: straighttop and bottomtop and bottom?  (left: straight, middle: top and bottom, right: unknown)
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
Letter height: 4.4–7.5 cm1.732 in <br />2.953 in <br />
Number of letters: 9
Number of words: 2
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: carved
Condition: damaged, fragmentary

Archaeological culture: Golasecca III A
Date of inscription: 5th–early 4th c. BC (?)

Type: funerary
Language: Celtic
Meaning: 'for °u son of Metos'

Alternative sigla: Solinas 1995: 3 B
Motta 2000: 6 A
Morandi 2004: 34 Bc

Sources: Morandi 2004: 539 f. no. 34 Bc



First published in Risch 1984: 26. Examined, in a manner of speaking, for LexLep on 27th September 2021.

Images in Risch 1984: 27, Abb. 4 (drawing = Risch 1989: 1585, fig. 2) and 33, Abb. 14 (photo = Morandi 2004: tav. VIII B), De Marinis & Motta 1991: 208, fig. 4 (drawing), Solinas 1995: tav. LX b (photo), Tibiletti Bruno 1997: fig. 6 (drawing).

The inscription on the back side of the stela was found by Risch or a member of the museum staff in the early 1980ies; it is much damaged (possibly the consequence of an early immuration after its finding in the 19th century, but not at the Raetic Museum, see the object page), and the top of the frame is lost with a considerable spalling of the surface. Risch in the first publication read ]N dE dseparator2 dM4 dE dT4 dA18 sL2 dU10 dI dP dA dL d[    ]ne metalui pal[a], enclosed in a frame, with the last four letters small and misaligned (see the drawings above). He also saw the remains of two adjacent frames as on the front side, which had been effaced before the inscription was applied in its new frame.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to verify some of Risch's conclusions, as the stone was put up with its back to a wall or glass case at both LexLep-related visits to the museum, so that the inscription could not be properly examined so far. Please note that the close-up photos above were taken at various angles due to the lack of space between the stone and the glass case, so that the letters are somewhat distorted. The drawing is based on the photo published in Risch 1984 for correct proportions, with details from our close-ups. The letters nu, mu, epsilon and tau as well as the separator are clearly legible; alpha, lambda, upsilon and iota can be made out reasonably well. At a little distance before nu, the upper part of a hasta plus downward bar can be made out, as reflected in the drawings of Risch and De Marinis (the latter made from the photo); the upper part of a hasta directly before nu appears to be a trick of the eye. The inscription's frame (ca. 14 cm broad) and to some extent the effaced frame lines can be seen well in the photograph published in 1989 (see above); Risch's pala, on the other hand, is hard to make out under the circumstances. pala would certainly be expected, though, to complete the typical Lepontic funerary formula indicated by the patronym metalui and the preceding individual name, both in the dative (see the word page for details). The latter form requires an omicron before nu, which cannot be confirmed epigraphically, but is at least possible. All in all, there is space for about 3–4 letters before nu (about 17 cm to the bottom line of the frame; the entire inscription was maybe about 76 cm in length judging by the frame).

Risch 1989: 1581 and Tibiletti Bruno 1997: 1007 f. consider TI·36.3 to be younger than the inscriptions on the front (TI·36.1 and TI·36.2) because of the writing direction, while De Marinis & Motta 1991: 206, 218 argue that TI·36.3 is older based on the frame shape (type B, closed at the bottom, 5th–early 4th century BC) and the form of alpha (thus also Solinas 1995: 322, no. 3 and Motta 2000: 200 f.); undecided Piana Agostinetti 2004: 312 and Morandi 2004: 539. While alpha is one of the more reliable indicators of palaeographical dating (but cf. the observations on TI·36.1), it appears here in a form with the bar rising in writing direction, which is untypical for the Lepontic alphabet; it indicates only that the inscription cannot be considerably younger that the ones on the front. The strongest arguments for a higher age of TI·36.3 are the shape of the frame according to De Marinis' typology, and T4 d, which is only otherwise attested in the archaic Prestino inscription, where it appears to be a simple graphic variant of tau (or theta) – though the letter is smaller in the present inscription, and it is not clear whether it may have a special function (see metalui). Inverted upsilon and mu M4 d with three bars are usually young, but are sporadically known from archaic inscriptions (cf. especially the stela inscriptions TI·34.1 and TI·40, also BG·1). Inverted lambda in the Lepontic alphabet appears to be a young phenomenon (secure attestations from the 2nd century onward). (Risch 1989: 1582 observes that lambda and upsilon might simply have been inscribed from from the other side, which is possible, but ad hoc.) The earliest Lepontic stela inscription with dextroverse writing otherwise known is TI·34 (4th century).

The inscription is certainly unusual in terms of letter forms, most of the atypical ones (M4 d, A26 d, L2 d, U10 d) being more common in the east of the North Italic area, especially the Raetic Magrè alphabet.

See also Risch 1992: 680.

Corinna Salomon


De Marinis & Motta 1991 Raffaele C. De Marinis, Filippo Motta, "Una nuova iscrizione lepontica su pietra da Mezzovico (Lugano)", Sibrium 21 (1990–1991), 201–225.