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Reading in transliteration: ritiliọ[ / ]iponiạ
Reading in original script: R3 dI dT dI dL dI dO3 s[
A sI sN sO3 sP sI s [
Variant reading: ritiliọ[ / ]ipośạ
R3 dI dT dI dL dI dO3 s[
A sŚ sO3 sP sI s[

Object: VS·1 Argnou (unidentifiable)
Position: front
Direction of writing: boustrophedon
Script: North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
Letter height: 0.5–0.8 cm0.197 in <br />0.315 in <br />
Number of letters: 12
Number of lines: 2
Workmanship: carved
Condition: fragmentary

Archaeological culture: unknown [from object]
Date of inscription: unknown [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: prob. Celtic
Meaning: 'Ritilio[ ... ]iponia' (?)

Alternative sigla: none

Sources: Rubat Borel & Paccolat 2008: 130–132



First published in Rubat Borel & Paccolat 2008: 130–132. Examined for LexLep on 30th September 2021.

Images in Rubat Borel & Paccolat 2008: 131, fig. 5 (photo) and 6 (drawing).

Two lines of text inscribed on the smoothed side of the little plaque. The letters are neatly incised, but damaged by surface erosion. Rubat Borel in the original publication assumes that letters are missing only on the right side, where a layer has chipped off the surface, and possibly below the second line, but it seems possible that at least the left edge is also not original. Line 1 is applied in the middle of (what is left of) the plaque; the distance between rho and the edge is 4 mm. If the fifth letter is lambda, as the analysis suggests (see below), it indicates the orientation and consequently the writing direction: line 1 is most likely dextroverse, though an inverted and sinistroverse reading ritipio[ cannot be completely ruled out. All letters in line 1 are clear up to the edge, which cuts through the upper tip of the second iota and the upper half of the following letter. Rubat Borel reads the last letter as upsilon U d or U2 d, perhaps rho or lambda; we prefer omicron, as the left-most angle of the lozenge is just visible on the better-preserved side. The distance between iota and putative omicron is comparatively wide (4 mm), but no alternative to iota is plausible. Rubat Borel thinks of word separation by a space. Line 2 runs along the edge underneath line 1, with the letters – 1–3 mm shorter than those in line 1 – apparently incomplete at the bottom. The maximum distance between the broken edge and initial iota is 5 mm, so line 2 is probably complete at the beginning, unless what may be the trace of a bar right at the edge is intentional (see Rubat Borel's drawing). Rubat Borel puts a space between pi and omicron, which we cannot confirm (2.5 mm distance, the same as that between iota and pi). A chip in the surface obscures the group of lines after omicron, which could be Ś s (thus Rubat Borel) or I sN s. We prefer the latter option, as the lines in the upper left corner are clearly not connected, and ni lends itself better to linguistic analysis . The final letter may be alpha, but the lower bar is curiously short. Since a sequence śl is not unlikely, line 2 must be read in the same orientation as line 1, but sinistroverse, making it one of only two true boustrophedon inscriptions in the corpus (cf. Rubat Borel & Paccolat 2008: 130).

Due to the partly difficult reading and the fragmentary nature of the text, it is impossible to give a cohesive interpretation. Both sequences can qualify as personal names, one masculine, one feminine, both in the nominative according to our reading (see the word pages). Rubat Borel interprets ritili in line 1 as a genitive, and ]ip in line 2 as the ending of another genitive + -pe "and" with apocope of the -e before the initial vowel of the following word ośa. For the latter, he compares ośoris: 'of Ritilos and ? the cattle'. He also considers the possibility of a personal name ]iponia, comparing nibonia (Delamarre 2007: 141), although the hypothetical preceding letter can hardly be nu.

While the object cannot be dated archaeologically, the letter forms (specifically, the upright alpha) agree well with the dating of the La Tène context excavated to the south of the find spot, viz. the 4th–3rd centuries BC (see the object page), although the inscription can of course be younger.

Corinna Salomon


Delamarre 2007 Xavier Delamarre, Noms de personnes celtiques dans l'épigraphie classique. Nomina Celtica Antiqua Selecta Inscriptionum, Paris: Errance 2007.