From Lexicon Leponticum
Jump to navigationJump to search
Reading in transliteration: pelkui : pruiam : teu : karite : iṣ́os : kaṛite : palaṃ
Reading in original script: M sA14 sL sA14 sP sseparator3 sE2 sT sI sR sA14 sK4 sseparator3 sS sO sŚ sI sseparator3 sE2 sT sI sR sA14 sK4 s separator3 sU sE2 sT sseparator3 sM sA14 sI sU sR sP sseparator3 sI sU sK4 sL sE2 sP s
Variant reading: pelkui : pruiam : teu : karite : iṣ́os : kaḷite : palaṃ
M sA14 sL sA14 sP sseparator3 sE2 sT sI sL sA14 sK4 sseparator3 sS sO sŚ sI sseparator3 sE2 sT sI sR sA14 sK4 s separator3 sU sE2 sT sseparator3 sM sA14 sI sU sR sP sseparator3 sI sU sK4 sL sE2 sP s

Object: VA·6 Vergiate (stela)
Position: front
Frame: feettop and bottomtop and bottomfeet  (left: feet, middle: top and bottom, right: feet)
Direction of writing: sinistroverse
Script: North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
Letter height: 6.2–14.5 cm2.441 in <br />5.709 in <br />
Number of letters: 36
Number of words: 7
Number of lines: 1
Workmanship: carved
Condition: complete, damaged

Archaeological culture: Golasecca II
Date of inscription: end of 6th / beginning of 5th c. BC

Type: funerary
Language: Lepontic
Syntactic analysis: NPOBindir NPOBdir NPSUB VP; NPSUB VP NPOBdir
Meaning: 'For Pelkos Teu set up the pruia; the same set up the gravestone.'

Alternative sigla: Whatmough 1933 (PID): 300
Solinas 1995: 119
Motta 2000: 1
Morandi 2004: 106

Sources: Morandi 2004: 594–596 no. 106



First published in Lattes & Nicodemi 1913. Examined for LexLep on 27th January 2022.

Images in Lattes & Nicodemi 1913: tav. IIa (drawings = Rhŷs 1913: 79 = Rhŷs 1914: 28, and photo = Rhŷs 1913: pl. VIII = Rhŷs 1914: pl. VI), Giussani 1914: 49, fig. 1 (photo) and 53, fig. 2 (drawing = Lattes 1914: 919, fig. 1), Tibiletti Bruno 1967: 34 (drawing), Tibiletti Bruno 1967b: 43 (photo = Tibiletti Bruno 1969c: 184), Tibiletti Bruno 1969c: 184 (drawing), Tibiletti Bruno 1970: 388, fig. 7 (drawing), Morandi 1982: 190 (drawing) and tav. XLI (photo = Solinas 1995: tav. LXVIIIb = Morandi 2001: 8, fig. 3 = Morandi 2004: tav. XV = Morandi 2017: 365, fig. 2), Gambari & Colonna 1986: 152 (drawing), De Marinis & Motta 1991: 207 (drawing), Morandi 2004: 593, fig. 15.106 (drawing), De Marinis 2009e: 685, fig. 2 (drawing) and fig. 3 (photo of the cast at Gallarate), Prosdocimi & Solinas 2017: 356, fig. 4 (photo), Morandi 2017: 366, fig. 3 (drawing).

The surface of the stone having suffered since its finding (see the object page), the inscription is today in considerably worse condition than in the 1910s and 1920s. See Lattes & Nicodemi 1913, Rhŷs 1913: 78–87, Rhŷs 1914: 28–30, Giussani 1914: 47–55, Lattes 1914 and PID no. 300 for early descriptions of the letters. A collection of the early readings can be found in Tibiletti Bruno 1969c: 185. Most letters were correctly identified from the beginning; the separator (rather than iota) between iśos and kalite goes back to Rhŷs 1913: 82, the one between pruiam and teu (again rather than iota) to Whatmough (PID), final mu (yet again rather than iota) in palam to Conway in the PID's addenda (p. 630). San in the heavily damaged lower left area (iśos) was recognised by Tibiletti Bruno 1969c: 186. The only letter remaining under discussion is the third in the second-to-last word lambda vs. rho (see Eska & Mercado 2005: 166 f. for an overview). Only the hasta and a scratch in the lower part of the line L s are (passably) clear. Traces in the upper part of the line, which indicate a complete curve as in R s, are reflected in Nicodemi's drawings A (a sketch made at the find place) and especially C (a tracing made at the museum), though he ultimately settled on lambda. Rho (and therefore a repetition of the verb karite rather than two different verbs) is preferred by Giussani 1914: 54 and Conway PID: 630 (both after examination), Pisani 1953: 272 f, no. 123, Meid 1999: 14 f., Motta 2000: 196 (with reference to the drawing in De Marinis & Motta 1991: 207; Motta compares Todi PG·1.2/PG·1.4, where the same verb karnitu is used in the two parts of the inscription) and De Marinis 2009e: 687.

The structure of the text is clear (first in Pisani 1953: 272 f, no. 123 = 1964: 285 f., no. 123 based on Conway's reading; see also Lejeune 1971: 88): it consists of two clauses, each with subject, past verb and direct object, the first also with indirect object – 'Teu karite-d the pruia for Pelkos; iśos kar/lite-d the pala'. See the word pages for detailed analyses of the individual forms. The accusatives pruiam (attested only here) and palam (attested multiple times) are thought to refer to elements of the physical grave (cf. Meid 1999: 14); since pala appears to be the gravestone, pruia may designate the grave construction (chamber, compound, ...), but in the absence of reliable etymologies, the exact semantics are uncertain. Though unsure about the exact reading ("i..os"), Pisani 1953: 272 f., no. 123 already considered the second subject to be a pronoun 'he, the same'. Tibiletti Bruno 1969c: 186, based on her reading iśos, originally preferred to interpret it as a personal name ('for Belgos Deu made the funerary construction; Issos sculpted the stone'), but came around to the interpretation of iśos as a pronoun in later publications (1978: 140 f., 1990b: 92–94) after Lejeune 1971: 89 with n. 314 had analysed the form as itsos < *istos 'the same'. The text is notable for containing single individual names for both parties and no patronyms, while binominal formulae are common at least for the deceased in later Lepontic funerary inscriptions.

With two fronted objects in the first clause and a postponed one in the second, the syntax of the text is non-trivial (cf. Solinas 1995: 371, Meid 1996: 260, Meid 1997: 402, Motta 2000: 197, Eska 2004: 873 f.); the text is interpreted as poetic and probably metrical by Eska & Mercado 2005, Eska & Mercado 2011, Eska 2019; cf. also Rhŷs 1913: 87, Mees 2008, Stifter 2016b: 50 f.

The frame lines with their pointed ends and short oblique appendages, which were taken for a stylised eel by Rhŷs 1913: 80 f., can be compared to those of Etruscan stela inscriptions, in whose direct tradition they appear to stand, and are developed further on Lepontic stelae (Gambari & Colonna 1988: 151 f., n. 136, with images, De Marinis & Motta 1991: 206, Gambari 1999b: 10).

Dating to the beginning of the 5th century BC at the latest following De Marinis & Motta 1991: 217, based on the typology of the frame, and the observation that the area of Sesto Calende-Golasecca-Castelletto Ticino went into decline after Golasecca II.

See also Tibiletti Bruno 1967: 18–23, 25, Tibiletti Bruno 1967b: 45, Tibiletti Bruno 1975b: 48, n. 4, Tibiletti Bruno 1978: 188 f., Morandi 1982: 189 f., Tibiletti Bruno 1990b: 105 f., Lambert 1994: 21, Eska & Evans 2009: 35, Prosdocimi & Solinas 2017: 355–357, Morandi 2017: 366 f.

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.
De Marinis 2009e Raffaele C. de Marinis, "La stele di Vergiate", 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, 684–692.
Eska & Evans 2009 Joseph Francis Eska, David Ellis Evans, "Continental Celtic", in: Martin J. Ball, Nicole Müller (eds), The Celtic Languages, 2nd edition, London – New York: Routledge 2009.
Eska & Mercado 2005 Joseph Francis Eska, Angelo O. Mercado, "Observations on verbal art in ancient Vergiate", Historische Sprachforschung 118 (2005), 160-184.
Eska & Mercado 2011 Joseph F. Eska, Angelo O. Mercado, "More on the metrical structure in the inscription of Vergiate", Historische Sprachforschung 124 (2011), 227–238.
Eska 2004 Joseph F. Eska, "Cisalpine Celtic", in: Roger D. Woodard (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages, Cambridge: CUP 2004, 847–880.
Eska 2019 Joseph F. Eska, "Vergiateter", in: Adam Alvah Catt, Ronald I. Kim, Brent Vine (eds), QAZZU warrai. Anatolian and Indo-European Studies in Honor of Kazuhiko Yoshida, Ann Arbor / New York: Beech Stave Press 2019, 50–58.
Gambari & Colonna 1988 Filippo Maria Gambari, Giovanni Colonna, "Il bicchiere con iscrizione arcaica da Castelletto Ticino e l'adozione della scrittura nell'Italia nord-occidentale", Studi Etruschi 54 (1986 [1988]), 119–164.
Giussani 1914 Antonio Giussani, "Le Iscrizioni Nord-Etrusche di Vergiate e di Banco", Rivista Archeologica della Provincia di Como 67-69 (1914), 47-60.