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Reading in transliteration: atekua / aśounị
Reading in original script: I sN4 sU2 sO2 sŚ sA29 s
A29 sU sK sE6 sT sA29 s
Variant reading: aśoum
M7 sU2 sO2 sŚ5 sA29 s

Object: VB·27 Stresa (stela)
Position: top, front
Direction of writing: sinistroverse
Script: North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
adapted to: Latin script
Letter height: 7–10 cm2.756 in <br />3.937 in <br />
Number of letters: 12
Number of words: 2
Number of lines: 2
Workmanship: carved
Condition: complete, damaged

Archaeological culture: La Tène D 2 [from object]
Date of inscription: 1st c. BC [from object]

Type: funerary
Language: Celtic
Meaning: 'Atekua of Aśounos' (?)

Alternative sigla: Whatmough 1933 (PID): 302
Tibiletti Bruno 1981: 17
Solinas 1995: 126
Morandi 2004: 70

Sources: Morandi 2004: 567 no. 70



First published in Ferrero 1889: 262 (c). Examined for LexLep on 24th April 2024.

Images in Ferrero 1889: 262 (drawing with incorrect orientation), Ponti 1896: 153, no. 187 (drawing from Fabretti's calque), Ferrero 1897: 59 (drawing from Fabretti's calque = Danielsson 1909: 27), Morandi 2004: 566, fig. 12.70 (drawing), Caramella & De Giuli 1993: 210 (drawing).

Inscribed in two lines in the upper area of the stela (length line 1 48 cm, line 2 27 cm). Despite surface damage, the letters can be cleary identified under raking light, but a number of open questions remain. The reading atekua aśouni 'Atekua (daughter) of Aśounos' goes back to Ferrero 1897: 59, no. 3, who points out that the last group of strokes in the upper line appear to form mu M7 s, but prefers ni to get a genitival patronym. Apart from Pauli 1891: 158, who reads aśoum, scholars have stuck with Ferrero's linguistically more plausible reading, but the left-most stroke is very clearly oblique and attached to the previous one; inverted Latin mu of a similar shape also appears in VB·26.

Equally problematic is the inscription's orientation. De-Vit in the original publication inexplicably claims that it is applied vertically, but usually it is read upside-down, with atekua as the first line. An inverted drawing of the inscription is already shown in Ponti 1896 without comment; Ferrero 1897: 59, no. 3 notes that "[l]'iscrizione è incisa capovolta sulla pietra". Again it is Pauli 1891: 158 who accurately reflects the orientation (though with incorrect orientation of alpha in the upper line), but most scholars follow Ferrero. Rhŷs 1913: 51 f., no. 2 suggests that the text was inscribed upside-down because it was more convenient for the stone cutter when the stela lay flat. Whatmough PID 107 f., no. 302 argues that the expected genitival name formula in the right order supports this orientation; he also states that the inscription is in fact upright and applied on the lower end of the stela – this is not possible as it would not have been visible, and the stela's upper end can be clearly identified by the rounded top (cf. Morandi 2004: 567, no. 70 "forse per errore"). See also Danielsson 1909: 26–28, Jacobsohn 1927: 30, no. 190, Pisani 1964: 282 f., no. 119 F, Tibiletti Bruno 1975: 53, Tibiletti Bruno 1978: 153, Tibiletti Bruno 1981: 170 f., no. 17, Solinas 1995: 374, no. 126. Beside the order of the names, the upside-down reading with atekua as the first line is probably also suggested by the orientation of alpha and epsilon, which are letters not commonly inverted. Of the other potentially indicative letters, upsilon is not inverted (U s), but inverted upsilon U3 s appears in two other inscriptions at Stresa (VB·23, VB·26), so it is difficult to judge which variant should be considered more "regular" here. Uncertain nu in the upper line strongly resembles the inverted Latinoid nu in VB·22 (and Lepontic in VB·26), while inverted mu M7 s, as mentioned, is attested in VB·26. Overall, considering the tendency toward inverted letters at Stresa and the fact that the orientation of the present inscription on the stela is beyond doubt, we prefer to read the inscription as sinistroverse and the right way around, with inverted alpha, epsilon and nu/mu. The argument regarding the order of the names is weak not only because of the uncertain reading of the putative genitival patronym aśouni, but also because the epichoric inscriptions on the Stresa stelae do not exactly distinguish themselves through the regularity of their name formulae (see VB·22, VB·23, VB·26).

The second letter san in the upper line features a vertical stroke through the centre Ś5 s in Morandi's drawing. This letter variant is attested in two other inscriptions (NO·21.1, BG·41.16), but its identification in the present one is uncertain – a corresponding trace can be made out, but may be an irregularity in the surface. As also noted by Morandi, omicron has a somewhat irregular triangular shape.

Corinna Salomon


Caramella & De Giuli 1993 Pierangelo Caramella, Alberto De Giuli, Archeologia dell'Alto Novarese, Mergozzo: Antiquarium Mergozzo 1993.
Danielsson 1909 Olof August Danielsson, Zu den venetischen und lepontischen Inschriften [= Skrifter utgivna av Kungliga Humanistiska Vetenskaps-Samfundet i Uppsala 13.1], Uppsala – Leipzig: 1909.
Ferrero 1889 Ermanno Ferrero, "Regione XI. (Transpadana)", Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità (1889), 261–262.
Ferrero 1897 Ermanno Ferrero, "Iscrizioni di Chignolo Verbano", Atti della Società di Archeologia e Belle Arti per la provincia di Torino 7 (1897), 56–60.