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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  History and Archeology (Moderator: David Atherton)  |  Topic: Reuse of Inscriptions as Masonry 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Reuse of Inscriptions as Masonry  (Read 1793 times)
Kained but Able
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« on: April 08, 2012, 09:52:16 am »

Salve all,

I have just returned from a trip to Tarragona, Ancient Tarraco, in North eastern Spain. Naturally, the city has many wonderful Roman sites such as the Amphitheatre hugging the shoreline and the columns of the Forum that adorn the postcards although personally, one of the most interesting vestiges of the ancient city was something most people would not even notice.

The reuse of Roman inscriptions and sculptural elements in later Medieval buildings is a phenomena that can be observed in most historic European cities and I always enjoy looking out for them; in Tarragona this seems to have happened a great deal and I soon lost count of all the inscriptions I saw used as masonry in the buildings of the old town. Below are some of the examples I photographed around the town. Perhaps you have seen Roman material being recycled in interesting ways too?
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Kained but Able
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 09:54:50 am »

and a few more..
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Randygeki(h2)
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 10:25:14 am »

Not quite the same, but this is pretty interesting I thought.
http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=27&Issue=4&ArticleID=13
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Syltorian
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 12:46:23 pm »

There's four in the outer wall of the church at Vence (Southern France), ancient Vintium (Gallia Narbonensis).  

CIL 12, 00037: D(is) M(anibus) / Maecia / Maeciani fil(ia) / Valeria / viva sibi fec(it) - To the Spirits of the Deceased, Maecia Valeria, daughter of Maecianus. She put this up for herself while alive.

CIL 12, 00034: D(is) M(anibus) / Iucundill/a mat(er) filio / Onesiphor/o pient(issimo) viva / fecit v(ixit) a(nnos) XXV - To the Spirits of the Deceased, Iucundilla, his mother, while alive, put this up for her most pious son Onesiphor. He lived 25 years.

CIL 12, 00001: Idaeae matri / Valeria Mar/ciana Vale/ria Carmo/syne et Cassi/us Paternus / sacerdos tau/ripolium(!) suo su/(m)ptu celebraverunt -- For the Idaean Mother (= Cybele), Valeria Marciana, Valeria Carmosyne, and Cassius Paternus the priest, celebrated the tauripolium (correctly written the tauropolium or taurobolium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taurobolium) from their own money. (Note: quite interesting to find this one on the outside of a Christian Church).



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Masis
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2012, 05:44:22 pm »

That is really interesting!

Back in 2001 I went for a 10 day trip into central Turkey to my Dad's village, on route I stayed one night in Ankara.
Made sure to go to the Citadel, alas I had used up all my photo film at the Museum. The walls of the Citadel have much reused Roman monumental masonry added into it, an example shown below.
[BROKEN PHOTO LINK REMOVED BY ADMIN - PLEASE UPLOAD PHOTOS]
Of course the walls mostly date from the Byzantine era. And I recall that there is still a Cross upon the wall.
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 10:35:02 am »

Not quite the same, but this is pretty interesting I thought.
http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=27&Issue=4&ArticleID=13
Great detective  and restoration work!
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cliff_marsland
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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2012, 11:02:15 am »

Very interesting.  Were there any good coin stores in Spain?

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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2012, 11:43:58 am »

Very interesting.  Were there any good coin stores in Spain?

I would not advise to buy, and export yourself, any ancient coins from Spain or from any other Mediterranean source countries, at least not by air. There are Spanish internet sources - ebay and several well known dealers who know how to sell around the world. Stick to those. One could get into terrible difficulties with a bag of locally-sourced ancient coins - and no expert permit - in your possession in an airport check.
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cliff_marsland
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 03:22:50 pm »

I see.  Well, I'd only go to Vienna then Smiley  Relatives went to a nice coin store there and brought back some items.  They tried to go to a coin shop near the British Museum while there also, but it was closed that day.

Oh yeah, I remember you mentioning San Marino for good RR coins.

I'm not much of a vacationer myself, though.  I believe in spending the money that would have otherwise been used on travel for goods.  I also refuse to be treated like a serf to board a plane, and modern  liners are tacky, unless one takes something like the Queen Mary, which I'm too cheap to do.  Some Italian liners also have the unfortunate tendency to sink or become the Morro Castle.

It sounds like Kained had a nice trip and it's always cool to visit Roman sites.
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Jay GT4
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2012, 03:53:12 pm »

If you take a walk along the Appian Way just outside of Rome (Go past the catacombs and keep walking), you'll see lots of farm houses and estates that have ancient marble used in walls and houses.  Truly amazing.  I'll try to dig up my pictures...
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2012, 06:48:10 am »

Nice examples of the use of spoils you can find everywhere. Just some of my last trip to FYROM: No. 1 is in the medieval city wall of Ohrid, no. 2 in the church of St. Nicolas in Prilep. A favorite of mine is the headless statue in the byzantine wall crossing the odeum of Ionian Metropolis (no. 3).

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Dapsul
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2012, 06:52:32 am »

And not to forget - as long as there is still anything visible - the late antique city wall of Macedonian Beroea (Veria):
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Dapsul
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2012, 02:14:43 am »

Two more from Gaeta, Italy. The basement of a cathedral is completely built of spoils, and a nearby café has an archaeologically interesting restroom.
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2012, 03:17:13 am »

...The basement of a cathedral is completely built of spoils, and a nearby café has an archaeologically interesting restroom.

Looks like more than dogs have been urinating against that column!  Cool  And so it has been for time immemorial. Yet, Paul Barford would have a coronary!
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Kained but Able
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2012, 05:10:29 am »

Great contributions Syltorian, Masis and Dapsul, thanks! That headless statue used as masonry is crazy, though I suppose better that than smash it up for lime. Some nice pilasters to be seen in the side of Gaeta's Cathedral, no doubt from the temple that once stood on the same site and the urinal column is priceless. Also, there seem to be so many inscriptions dotted around buildings even in remoter parts, you wonder if they have all been documented by CIL?
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Syltorian
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2012, 11:32:48 am »

Also, there seem to be so many inscriptions dotted around buildings even in remoter parts, you wonder if they have all been documented by CIL?

At the time CIL was created, in the late 19th/early 20th century, people would drag up anything that connected them to the glorious Roman past. There was a huge interest on the village level, so far as I know, largely amongst the notaries, clergy, and other notables. Unfortunately, several items from CIL are "now missing", with unsure readings because the original person to record them was not really up to the task, or recorded as "incerta vel falsa"  (uncertain or wrong/fake).

Much will have been missed, though, if it was on private ground where the owner did not feel like having people in (or digging around his field!); a lot of inscriptions could yet be recovered because they were walled in with the inscription facing inwards (as part of only one layer of stone). At a conference, they once showed that a whole Late-Roman town wall was full of these hidden inscriptions, though I can't for the life of me remember where this wall stands. Also, if you read the Année Epigraphique, you'll find that scores of new inscriptions emerge every year: it's one of the areas in ancient history where most new stuff can be discovered on a regular basis.
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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2012, 12:37:29 pm »

Also, there seem to be so many inscriptions dotted around buildings even in remoter parts, you wonder if they have all been documented by CIL?

At the time CIL was created, in the late 19th/early 20th century, people would drag up anything that connected them to the glorious Roman past. There was a huge interest on the village level, so far as I know, largely amongst the notaries, clergy, and other notables. Unfortunately, several items from CIL are "now missing", with unsure readings because the original person to record them was not really up to the task, or recorded as "incerta vel falsa"  (uncertain or wrong/fake).

Much will have been missed, though, if it was on private ground where the owner did not feel like having people in (or digging around his field!); a lot of inscriptions could yet be recovered because they were walled in with the inscription facing inwards (as part of only one layer of stone). At a conference, they once showed that a whole Late-Roman town wall was full of these hidden inscriptions, though I can't for the life of me remember where this wall stands. Also, if you read the Année Epigraphique, you'll find that scores of new inscriptions emerge every year: it's one of the areas in ancient history where most new stuff can be discovered on a regular basis.

An important new addition to the resource base for working with odd bits of inscriptions is Michael Crawford's brand new Imagines Italicae.

The Imagines Italicae project, based in the Institute since 2002, was completed and published in January 2012. Its objective was to publish the surviving records of the many peoples of Italy who spoke the languages called ‘Italic’, which disappeared as the Romans took control and as Latin became the common language of Italy.   Almost the only records now surviving from these peoples are the texts they inscribed and the coinages they produced. Imagines Italicae, edited by Michael Crawford and colleagues on the project, recently published as a BICS Supplement, provides for the first time a complete corpus of these texts, accompanied by photographs or drawings, a critical apparatus, an English translation where possible, a bibliography, and a full account of their discovery and archaeological context. It will provide the essential tool for all those working on the languages and history of Italy before the Romans.

The Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, is pleased to announce the publication of a new three‐volume work, Imagines Italicae, edited by M. H. Crawford and colleagues, the outcome of a research project based in the combined library of the Hellenic and Roman Societies and of the Institute, beginning in 2002 and initially supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The empire created by Rome underlies many of the structures of modern Europe, and that empire in turn was in its early stages the joint creation of Rome and the other peoples of Italy. Almost the only records left by those peoples themselves consist of the texts they inscribed and the coinages they produced. Imagines Italicae provides for the first time a complete corpus of those texts which are in one or other of the Italic languages, accompanied by photographs or drawings, a critical apparatus, an English translation where possible, a bibliography, and a full account of their discovery and archaeological context.

The corpus, geographically arranged, contains 982 entries in total, lavishly illustrated, some of them multiple, preceded by a substantial Introduction, and completed by an Appendix of Italic names occurring in Greek texts, detailed Concordances, and full epigraphic indexes.

The work is in a very real sense both that of the authors and of the 80 or so museums and libraries that welcomed the authors and helped them in every way possible, so as to enable them for the project to study and photograph their holdings; in subscribing to the work, you will both gain access to those holdings and also support the provision to each and every one of the museums and libraries in question of a copy of the work. It is a work that will make it possible for the first time to understand the complex linguistic geography of ancient Italy and to address crucial historical questions about the religion, culture, society, economy, and institutions of the peoples of Italy.

3 volumes, price 276 pounds.
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Syltorian
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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2012, 02:25:44 pm »

Thanks, Andrew! That's very interesting information indeed. I'll have to look out for those volumes next time I get to a major library with a classics department. The possibilities for research are great. Smiley
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Andrew McCabe
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« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2012, 02:30:18 pm »

Thanks, Andrew! That's very interesting information indeed. I'll have to look out for those volumes next time I get to a major library with a classics department. The possibilities for research are great. Smiley

By the standards of numismatic books they are inexpensive: GBP279 for three profusely illustrated volumes.

It might take some time for them to reach your classics department. They were published, like, yesterday.
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Dapsul
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2012, 05:50:38 am »

Thank you for the hint to this publication! I've waited for something like this for years.

Frank
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Masis
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« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2012, 03:27:13 pm »

In Kained but Able's fifth posted photo of reused masonry, in Tarragona, are two Altars.
In the image I posted showing a section of the citadel walls of Ankara, are a number of Altars built into it.
In Dapsul's photo of a wall in Prilep, a corner stone decorated with garlands and the head of a sacrificed Ram, is shown.

Is it just a case of coincidence around the former Empire, a way of using the pagan masonry in a stylish way, or was it an Empire wide practise, some time in the 4th century AD perhaps, that pagan Altars were used purposely this way in the walls of cities?
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Dapsul
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« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2012, 06:08:52 am »

St. Nicholas in Prilep is a 13th century building. It is nevertheless an interesting question. But the altars are not only of "religious", but also of enormous decorative value. I think it will be difficult to tell the one reason for using them from the other. As far as I know, there are still very few investigations in the use of spoils in late and post antiquity.
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Dapsul
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« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2012, 05:02:37 am »

I just read some useful ideas concerning the use of spoils in Yannis Hamilakis, The Nation and its Ruins (2007) 67f.
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