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Reading in transliteration: poenino / ieureu
Reading in original script: O7 sN sI sN sE2 sO7 sP s
U sE2 sR7 sU sE2 sI s

Object: VS·2 Liddes (slab)
Position: front
Orientation: 330°
Direction of writing: sinistroverse
Script: North Italic script (Lepontic alphabet)
adapted to: Latin script
Letter height: 6–7 cm2.362 in <br />2.756 in <br />
Number of letters: 12
Number of lines: 2
Workmanship: carved
Condition: damaged

Archaeological culture: La Tène D 2, Late Republican, Augustan [from object]
Date of inscription: 55–15 BC [from object]

Type: dedicatory
Language: Celtic
Meaning: 'dedicated to Poeninos'

Alternative sigla: none

Sources: Aberson et al. 2021: 309–332



First published in Andenmatten & Paccolat 2012: 91 f.

Images in Casini et al. 2008: 92, fig. 23 (photo), Andenmatten & Paccolat 2012: 91, fig. 19 (photo) and 20 (drawing), Casini et al. 2013: 162, fig. 6 (photo) and 163, fig. 7 (drawing = Aberson et al. 2021: 330, fig. 6), Aberson et al. 2021: 329, fig. 4 and 5 (photos).

Inscribed in two sinistroverse lines (length of line 1 32 cm) with an iron tool on the vertical face of the stone; the scratches are today 5–12 mm wide and 0.5–3 mm deep. See Aberson et al. 2021: 309–312 for a detailed description of the inscription, its application, discovery, study and documentation. The inscription's authenticity has been called into question for a number of reasons (Motta 2010: 407, Rubat Borel 2011, Andenmatten & Paccolat 2012: 91), but the doubts are countered convincingly by Aberson et al. 2021: 321 f. (cf. already Casini et al. 2013). The dating is based on that of the Mur d'Hannibal site.

The reading, as per Aberson et al. 2021: 316, is largely unproblematic; the last three letters of line 2 are damaged, but legible. The alphabet is the Lepontic one, but the fourth letter in line 2 is Latin rho R6 s, which does not otherwise appear in alphabetically Lepontic inscriptions. In a more angular ductus it can be found in the Latin-Venetic mixed inscription UD·1 and in the para-script TI·6 (cf. Eska & Eska 2022: 167). The bars do not touch the hasta in the centre, which is fairly common in Latin writing and particularly well attested in Gallo-Latin (cf. e.g. TI·4 and the examples given by Eska & Eska 2022: 167 f.); the reading S6 dI s -is- preferred by Casini et al. 2013: 158, 162 is possible, but not likely epigraphically (the tops of putative iota and sigma are touching; the concept of ligature is meaningless here) or with regard to the analysis (see below). The form of omicron twice in line 1 stands out as atypical for the Lepontic alphabet without being a feature of Latinisation; the clearly and deliberately carved "feet" can hardly be compared with sloppily prolonged half-circles in graffiti (pace Aberson et al. 2021: 313). The comparison of the shapes of omicron and rho with those of Runic ⟨o⟩ and ⟨r⟩ suggests itself, but leads no further.

The theonym poeninos is known from 31 Latin inscriptions from the pass sanctuary on the Great St. Bernard, ca. 14 km south of the inscription's find place, where (Iuppiter) Poeninus was worshipped in Roman times; see Appolonia et al. 2008 and specifically Wiblé 2008 as well as Walser 1984: 82–126 on the inscriptions. In two of the oldest inscriptions from the sanctuary (no.s 18 and 29, early 1st century AD, see Wiblé 2001: 46, Walser 1984: 112), the deity is addressed as poeninos (rather than iuppiter poeninus etc. from the late 1st century AD onward, see Wiblé 2008: 94) and appears in the dative poenino in the same form as in the Mur d'Hannibal inscription, which is a few decades earlier at most. The spelling ⟨oe⟩ can be classified as a Latin feature according to the explanation of the spelling variants given by Motta 2010: 401 f. and Eska & Eska 2022: 163–165 (see poininos). The same is probably true of final -o, which is most easily explained as the Latin dative ending -ō, though a Celtic dialectal dative ending -o cannot be excluded (Aberson et al. 2021: 314 f., Eska & Eska 2022: 168–171). See the word page for details on both the form of the base and the ending. The sequence in line 2 can be identified as the 3.sg.pret. verb ieuru known from Transalpine Gaulish inscriptions. The spelling -⟨eu⟩ has given cause for concern (Aberson et al. 2021: 315 f.), but is explained convincingly as a case of dittography (the erroneous repetition of a letter, cf. VC·1.2) by Eska & Eska 2022: 174 f.

The inscription is one of the few dedications in the Cisalpine Celtic corpus. The dedicant – usually the most important element of a dedicatory inscription – is not named (cf. Aberson et al. 2021: 315); Eska & Eska 2022: 175 suggest that either there was not enough room left of the stone (but sufficient space could have been found above line 1, had the information been considered important), or the omission of the personal name is a standard feature of an Alpine dedication formula, comparing BG·41.14, BG·41.21, BG·41.22, BG·41.23, BG·41.30, BG·41.31. The object of the dedication is equally unknown; no finds were made inside the structure containing the stone (Aberson et al. 2021: 316 f.). As pointed out by Casini et al. 2008: 84, all epigraphic attestations of the theonym *penninos occur at high-altitude sites above 2200 m a.s.l.

The Celtic-Latin mixed features of the inscription, both alphabetically (Lepontic alphabet with Latin rho) and linguistically (phonetically and possibly grammatically Latin form of the Celtic theonym, Celtic verb with spelling mistake), agree well with the archaeological and historical context of the site (cf. in detail Aberson et al. 2021: 317–321). The use of ieuru known from Transalpine Gaulish inscriptions may be evidence for the verb in the vernacular Celtic dialect (of the Veragri or Salasses), for the supraregional spread of a dedicatory formulaic lexicon, or support the theory that the Mur d'Hannibal was occupied by Gaulish auxiliaries. The inscription as a whole may reflect the bilingual and biscriptal background of its writer, or the diverse influences he was exposed to in a multicultural environment.

Corinna Salomon


Aberson et al. 2021 Michel Aberson, Romain Andenmatten, Stefania Casini, Angelo E. Fossati, Rudolf Wachter, "Entre Celtes et Romains : la dédicace à Poeninos du Mur (dit) d'Hannibal", in: María José Estarán Tolosa, Emmanuel Dupraz, Michel Aberson (eds), Des mots pour les dieux. Dédicaces cultuelles dans les langues indigènes de la méditerranée occidentale, Berne: Peter Lang 2021, 309–332.
Andenmatten & Paccolat 2012 Romain Andenmatten, Olivier Paccolat, "Le mur (dit) d'Hannibal: une site de haute montagne de la fin de l'âge de Fer. Avec les contributions d'Olivier Mermod, Angela Schlumbaum et Jacqueline Studer", Jahrbuch Archäologie Schweiz 95 (2012), 77-95.
Appolonia et al. 2008 Lorenzo Appolonia, François Wiblé, Patrizia Framarin (eds), Alpis Poenina, Grand Saint-Bernard. Une voie à travers l’Europe. Séminaire de clôture, 11/12 avril 2008, Fort de Bard (Vallée d’Aoste), Aoste: 2008.
Casini et al. 2008 Stefania Casini, Angelo Fossati, Filippo Motta, "Incisioni protostoriche e iscrizioni leponzie su roccia alle sorgenti del Brembo (Val Camisana di Carona, Bergamo). Note preliminari", Notizie Archeologice Bergomensi 16 (2008), 75–101.
Casini et al. 2013 Stefania Casini, Angelo E. Fossati, Filippo Motta, "L'iscrizione in alfabeto di Lugano al Mur d'Hannibal (Liddes, Valais)", Notizie Archeologiche Bergomensi 21 (2013), 157–165.
Eska & Eska 2022 Joseph F. Eska, Charlene M. Eska, "Epigraphic and linguistic observations on the inscription at the so-called Mur d'Hannibal (Liddes, Valais)", Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 69/1 (2022), 159–182.