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Reading in transliteration: a??ouvi???(?)ri
Reading in original script: A22 s??O dU3 dV dI d???(?)R dI d
Variant reading: u??θuvi???(?)ri
U3 d??Θ3 dU3 dV dI d???(?)R dI d

Object: VA·4 Sesto Calende (beaker)
(Inscriptions: VA·4.1, VA·4.2)
Position: neck, outside
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: unknown
Letter height: 0.7–1.8 cm0.276 in <br />0.709 in <br />
Number of letters: 12–14
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: scratched after firing
Condition: damaged

Archaeological culture: Golasecca II A [from object]
Date of inscription: early 6th c. BC [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: unknown
Meaning: unknown

Alternative sigla: Morandi 2004: 78 A

Sources: Morandi 2004: 572–574 no. 78 A



First published in Binaghi & Rocca 1999: 443–447. Examined for LexLep on 26th January 2022.

Images in Binaghi & Rocca 1999: 443, fig. 4 (drawing), Morandi 2001: 10 (drawing), Morandi 2004: 576, fig. 13.78 (drawing), Morandi 2004b: 82, fig. 4 (drawing), De Marinis 2009b: 425, fig. 12 (photo = Maras 2014b: 105, fig. 4a) and fig. 13 (drawing = Maras 2014: 77, fig. 1.5 = Maras 2014b: 105, fig. 4b), Maras 2014: 79, fig. 2a (photo = Morandi 2017: 368, fig. 4), Morandi 2017: 375, fig. 7.3 (drawing).

Inscribed horizontally on the neck of the beaker (length 11.2 cm). The sequence is damaged between letters 7(?) and 12(?); the reading is additionally made difficult by some rather unusual letter forms. Rocca (Binaghi & Rocca 1999: 443 f.) describes and identifies a few letters (a???θ?vux[--]??ri), but suspects that the document is pseudo-script, arguing that the majority of characters cannot be clearly identified because they are merely imitations of letters. This is doubted by Sassatelli 2000: 55 f., who judges the dismissal of a comparatively long document like this (parts 1 and 2 together) to be methodologically problematic, though he concedes that many letters appear to feature rather more scratches than strictly necessary. Sassatelli's tentative appraisal of the longer sequence as Lepontic is based mainly on the absence of any specifically Etruscan characteristics.

Morandi 2001b: 62, n. 15 suggests a reading A22 s<M>addK1 sO dU3 dV dI d???(?)R dI d ampouvi????ri (with the third letter identified as Greek pi), which he analyses as a genitive of possession. In the same year, Morandi discussed the inscription more extensively (2001: 10): he reiterates his analysis of the form as a genitive in (also 2004: 573 f., 2004b: 83, 2017: 369; cf. his reading of χosioiso), but hesitates in the identification of the third letter for which he considers Greek pi (with reference to the high dating) as well as kappa K5 s turned by 90°. In Morandi 2004, though still allowing for the possibility of kappa (as reflected in his transliteration), Morandi justifies his identification of the second letter as "cursivised" mu by comparing the initial section with pi as third letter with the Celtic prefix ambi-, interpreting the sequence as an on-stem name ambou (followed by a patronym) or as a first element of a compound ambou-. With regard to Greek pi, he also considers a reading of the penultimate letter as delta rather than rho, and signals the loss of only three letters in the lacuna. Morandi 2004b: 82 f. explicitly excludes a reading of the fourth letter as theta for phonotactic reasons, despite the presence of a small dot inside the circle (which is generally considered intentional, cf. Binaghi & Rocca 1999: 444), comparing it with omicron in the Camunic inscription Sc 4 (Mancini 1980: 90, who judges that dot to be unrelated to the inscription; further examples in Morandi 2017: 368 with n. 22). He now separates amk/pouvi as a praenomen in the genitive case from the rest of the sequence, which he tentatively reconstructs as (decidedly wonky) V dA22 sS sI dU3 dR dI d vasiuri (more detailed epigraphic argumentation in 2017: 369) and which he interprets as a patronym (genitive of vasiurios). He analyses the base as u̯ass- 'servant'; the "suffix" -iur- remains unexplained. Thus also 2017: 368 f., no. 3, where no more mention is made of potential Greek pi, though mu as second letter, less natural before kappa and without the support of the ambi-interpretation, is retained.

An entirely different reading is proposed by De Marinis 2009b: 424 f.: ?S saddE1 sΘ3 dU3 dV dI dK4 dO3 d??R dI d ?seθu viko??ri. His suggestions are taken up by Maras 2014b: 105 (also Maras 2014: 76, no. 5), who reads U3 dS saddE1 sΘ3 dU3 dV dI dK4 d?O3 d?R dI d ụṣẹθu viḳ??ri, again interpreted as a Lepontic onomastic formula (without further analysis). See also the comments by Dupraz 2015: 38, n. 16.

The object on which the inscription is written as well as the latter's placement can be compared with a number of mark-bearing vessels from the Golasecca necropolis which were excavated in the 19th century – though two of these have made it into the Cisalpine Celtic inscription corpus (VA·5, VA·32, see there also for the other documents), none of the marks are likely to be language-encoding script. In VA·4.1, however, the presence of clear, if untidy, upsilon, waw, iota and rho, beside the fact that the shorter sequence lends itself to linguistic interpretation, does indicate that we are dealing with a language-encoding inscription, though whether the uncertainties about the reading are due to shortcomings on our or on the scribe's part is at this point impossible to determine. None of the readings proposed so far are convincing, either epigraphically or linguistically. As noted by Morandi himself (2001: 10, 2004: 573, n. 31), Greek pi in the proposed shape is not an archaic letter form (Jeffery 1961: 33); a form addP1 s appears in Camunic inscriptions (e.g. Na 6, Be 1, FN 14), but the form with the longer top bar is typical only for Hellenistic Greek and later cursives. Kappa turned in this fashion is, to my knowledge, otherwise unattested (as, for that matter, is epsilon, for which the bars would have the entirely wrong orientation and distance). The identification of the fourth letter as omicron (with or without intentional dot) or theta (which appears in that form in VA·3 from the same necropolis) cannot be made without context; if the dot is unintentional, rho may also be possible (D. Stifter). As concerns Morandi's linguistic analyses, amkouvi, as he says, finds no comparanda; ambouvi, apart from the implausible latter part, cannot easily have ambi- (unless one would posit *ambi-ou̯ios 'surrounded by sheep'). The /ss/ in Gaul. u̯assos 'servant' goes back to tau gallicum, which would not be expected to be thus simplified in the 6th c. (cf. uvamokozis); a suffix(?) -ur- appears in leucuro/leukururitu, but is entirely unclear. In Maras' reading, the second name could be from a base u̯ik- 'fight'.

Corinna Salomon


Binaghi & Rocca 1999 Maria Adelaide Binaghi, Giovanna Rocca, "Sesto Calende (VA), loc. Presualdo", Studi Etruschi 63 (1997 [1999]), 437–447.
De Marinis 2009b Raffaele C. de Marinis, "Presualdo, Rastrel Rosso e Brivio (Sesto Calende), tombe del Golasecca I e II", in: Raffaele C. de Marinis, Serena Massa, Maddalena Pizzo (eds), Alle origini di Varese e del suo territorio. Le collezioni del sistema archeologico provinciale [= Bibliotheca Archaeologica 44], Roma: L'Erma di Bretschneider 2009, 416–430.
Dupraz 2015 Emmanuel Dupraz, "Nochmals zum lepontischen Digraphen uv-", Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 69,1 (2015), 33–50.