- I. Egyptian Inscriptions.
- Forms and Character (§ 1).
- Number, Age, and Contents (§ 2).
- The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment (§ 3).
- Illustration of the Bible (§ 4).
- II. Cuneiform Inscriptions.
- The Name; Area Covered by the Script. (§ 1).
- Discoveries; Decipherment of Persian (§ 2).
- Decipherment of Babylonian Assyrian (§ 3).
- Origin and Character of the Script (§ 4).
- III. Christian Inscriptions.
- 1. Ancient Christian Inscriptions.
- Methods of Writing (§ 1).
- Languages Employed (§ 2).
- Contents (§ 3).
- Value of the Material (§ 4).
- 2. Medieval and Later Inscriptions.
- 3. History of Epigraphy.
- The Early Period (§ 1).
- The Nineteenth Century (§ 2).
I. Egyptian Inscriptions: The inscriptions of Egypt are no new discovery. The term most used to describe the characters employed in the inscriptions, "hieroglyphics," is of Greek origin (hieros, " sacred " + glyphein, "to carve") and bears witness both to early knowledge of the existence of the 1. Forms writing and to the conception at that time that the priestly class was its executor. In more and modern usage the term is not confined to the Egyptian inscriptions, but is used generally of Character. any kind of picture-writing. The inscriptions on the monuments of Egypt are in the main in a picture-writing, the individual signs of which are representations of objects or actions more or less conventionalized. This detailed representation passed by the method of abbreviation into a shorter form called the hieratic script, and by the extension of this process to a still shorter form, the demotic. But in only the very late period of Egyptian history was either the hieratic or demotic form employed upon the monuments, though both were used on papyri from an early age. While originally the signs stood for the objects they pictured, at a very early stage they came to have phonetic quality, and from this to the development of an alphabet the steps were rapid and easy. While this process was going on, the signs were given values associated with those already customary and also others disconnected from the original connotation. The alphabet was of twenty-one letters (some authorities say twenty-two, others twenty-four), all consonants, though some of the letters were employed to indicate vowel sounds, as in the Semitic languages. The signs became also signs of syllables as well as of single letters, and, still further, signs of words or ideographs. In all, the number of symbols known from the monuments is slightly under 1,400. Since some of these symbols might express several ideas, it became necessary to use certain signs as determinatives to fix the meaning of the group in which they occurred, thus to remove ambiguity. The signs composing a word or idea are grouped in quadrangular form, though the order of grouping is not invariable, being either perpendicular or horizontal, according to the shape of the components, the exigencies of the space at disposal or the artistic taste of the scribe. The groups were arranged in columns or in lines, according to the material used and the space and form available for the inscription. The writing runs either (preferably) from right to left or the reverse when arranged horizontally, or from above downward when it is in columns.
2. Number, Age, and Contents. The area within which these inscriptions are found embraces the whole of the Nile valley as far as Nubia, parts of the peninsula of Sinai, and locations in Syria and Palestine. Records begin with the second dynasty; during the fourth, fifth and sixth dynasties they become numerous, though largely centralized around Memphis; then they become fewer until with the eleventh dynasty they again grow abundant and spread out over a wide area, continuing numerous till the fourteenth dynasty. Of the Hyksos kings few remains are found. With the seventeenth dynasty inscriptions once more become abundant and continue so, with exceptions in some dynasties or single reigns, till down into Roman times. The inscriptions were placed on the walls of temples, on stelæ and monuments set up within the temple courts, on obelisks, and in tombs both of the Pharaohs and of the nobility and the wealthier classes, and on gems, rings, and scarabs. Since the temples of the earlier period have vanished, it follows that the inscriptions of those times have for the most part perished. Yet while some of the earliest monuments were destroyed at a very early date, it sometimes occurs that the record which they bore was copied on a more perishable material which has survived. A matter which often causes embarrassment to the decipherer is that it was the known habit of some Pharaohs, as in the case of Rameses II., to remove the royal name in the cartouche of the original Pharaoh who ordered the inscription, and to inscribe their own in its place, thus claiming the deeds originally assigned to another and dislocating the order of history. The earliest inscriptions come from massive masonry tombs, where often little more than names, titles, and, sometimes, the legal provisions for maintenance of the tomb are preserved. Later, in addition to these bare statements, the lists of titles are extended to include something of the career of the deceased. Finally they contain records of achievement-whether of Pharaohs, generals, or administrators-of the occasion which the record commemorates, and may even include the royal patent for the work of which the inscription speaks. But, in general, a vagueness characterizes the content of the inscriptions and makes them illusive and difficult, not only in themselves but also in the historical matter to which they refer. Thus, in a story of conquest, the foe is often referred to not by name or country, but is described by some derogatory epithet: again, the events narrated were often contemporary and matters of general knowledge; it therefore did not seem to the maker necessary to give specific details, so that the identification of the events is often doubtful or impossible. Not seldom, the inscriptions are mere laudations of the Pharaoh, or, again, are hymns in praise of him. Others are records of building enterprises, giving the personal history of the ruler or administrator. Decrees of administration appear. In private tombs records of filial performance in the maintenance of the tomb occur, and there are also found interesting accounts referring to wars or enterprises otherwise unknown. The longest inscriptions are the Pyramid texts of the Pharaohs of the fifth and sixth dynasties, discovered in 1880, dealing largely with matters religious, including magic. The Palermo Stone is one of the most noted monuments--a fragment of a stele containing a record of pre-dynastic kings, continuing to the middle of the fifth dynasty, and giving brief royal annals. The various erections at Karnak afforded space for voluminous inscriptions, to some of which reference must be made later.
3. The Rosetta stone and Decipherment. Since the fifteenth century attempts were made to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphics, though without success till the early part of the nineteenth century. But meanwhile a foundation was laid for a broader and sounder appreciation of Egyptian archeology by the work done on Coptic since the time of Athanasius Kircher, who published the first Coptic grammar (Rome, 1643-44). The epoch-making work of Champollion (see below) was in no small part due to his mastery of Coptic. But all attempts to read the hieroglyphics were complete failures until the key was furnished by the Rosetta Stone. This is a slab of black granite, three feet nine inches by two feet four and a half inches and eleven inches thick, bearing an inscription in hieroglyphic and demotic Egyptian and in Greek. It was found in 1799 by M. Boussard, a French military officer, at Fort St. Julien, near Rosetta, on the Rosetta branch of the Nile (40 m. n.e. of Alexandria), was taken to England after the fall of Alexandria, and was presented to the British Museum by George III. (1801). The upper portion and the lower right-hand corner are broken away. It contains a decree of the Egyptian priests in honor of Ptolemy V. Epiphanes (205-181 B.C.), and its date is Mar. 27, 195 B.C. It bears 100 lines of text, fourteen of hieroglyphic (about half of the original), thirty-two of demotic, and fifty-four of Greek (the ends of some of the lines broken off). Its significance is not in its contents, but in the fact that it proved to be the key to the decipherment of the hieroglyphic and demotic writing, and consequently opened up nearly all that is known of and through Egyptian texts. The results gained through the decipherment of this text were checked and confirmed by the trilingual stele of Canopus found by Lepsius at Tanis in 1866, containing a similar decree of the year 238 B.C., in honor of Ptolemy III. Euergetes I. (247-222 B.C.). Yet the process of decipherment was somewhat tedious. Sylvestre de Sacy (1802) detected several groups in the demotic text which corresponded to the Greek forms of the names Ptolemy, Berenice, and Alexander. The Swede J. D. Akerblad (1802) obtained the phonetic values of most of the demotic characters in the proper names and used the Coptic to determine the meaning of several words. Thomas Young (1814), an English scientist, determined the meanings of several groups of demotic characters and established four alphabetical hieroglyphic characters. Jean Franco's Champollion put the crown upon all these efforts by reading from a bilingual obelisk in Philae, in hieroglyphic and Greek, the names of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, deciphering the names of Greek and Roman rulers, making out all the characters, discovering ideograms and determinatives, gaining insight into the phonetic system, and discerning the relations of the three kinds of script. He made a statement of his discoveries and expounded his system to the Académie des Inscriptions, Sept. 22, 1822. Karl Richard Lepsius worked on the lines of Champollion and corrected some mistakes, but proved the general soundness of Champollion's conclusions against the captious and envious criticism of several German writers. The science of Egyptology has been advanced by many later scholars, such as, to name only a few, Emmanuel de Rouge, Auguste Mariette, Paul Pierret, Jacques de Morgan and Gaston Maspero in France, Heinrich Brugsch, Alfred Wiedemann, Georg Ebers, Adolf Erman and Georg Steindorff in Germany, John Gardner Wilkinson, Samuel Birch, Peter le Page Renouf, Edward Naville, Ernest Alfred Thompson, Wallis Budge, and William Matthew Flinders-Petrie in England, W. Max Miller and James Henry Breasted in the United States.
4. Illustration of the Bible. The scantiness of illustration of Biblical history afforded by the Egyptian monuments as compared with the abundance gained from the Assyro-Babylonian records has been to many a cause of great disappointment. The explanation of this scantiness is, however, not hard to discover. One reason is the vagueness of Egyptian records (see above). Another, which is on the surface, is that after the Hebrews settled in Palestine contact of Egypt with Palestine was occasional and not always of such a character as to dispose the monument-makers to speak of it-they recorded only victories, not failures or defeats. That mention of the Hebrews who had broken away from Egyptian control would appear in the inscriptions was hardly to be expected, nor that pre-Mosaic Israel would be differentiated from the numerous nomads of Semitic stock who occasionally sought refuge in the Nile land. Accordingly, apart from that general illustration of manners of living which is a consequence of a sort of commonality of life in the East, little of specific detail need be looked for from the Egyptian inscriptions either corroborating or contradicting Biblical statements, especially if, according to the view now generally accepted, the Hebrews were very few in numbers. What little specific illustration there is takes on either a geographical or ethnological character. The first comes through the mention of places conquered in Palestine by the Pharaohs. Thothmes III. (eighteenth dynasty), who made fifteen expeditions into Syria and Palestine, has recorded in the temple of Amon at Karnak, on the wall of the southern pylon and on the northern wall at the western end of the temple, a list of places in that region the submission of which he claims to have received (cf. Records of the Past, new series, v. 29-53, for the list of names). Note-worthy and productive of a vast amount of discussion are the names Yakob-el and Yosep-el, which seem to represent an early form of the names Jacob and Joseph. The real significance of these names, paralleled from the cuneiform inscriptions, is as yet under debate, but eponymous derivation seems to be favored. The geography is also illuminated by the lists of Seti I. and Rameses II. (nineteenth dynasty), the latter's inscriptions on the Ramesseum at Thebes and at Karnak, and by that of Rameses III. at Medinet Haba. Shishak I. (twenty-second dynasty) also furnished on the south wall of the great temple at Karnak a list of geographical names in which there are 156 cartouches, not all legible (cf. W. M. Müller, Asien and Europa, Leipsic, 1893, pp. 166 sqq.).
The monuments of Seti I., Rameses II. and IV., and Meneptah contain references which are thought by the advanced school to bear on pre-Mosaic history. That the Aperiu (cf. Heb. 'Ibhri, "Hebrew " and the Habiri of the Amarna Tablets, q.v.) were Hebrews is not yet assured, though it is possible. Seti I. and Rameses II. speak of an Aseru or Asaru in western Galilee in the region assigned to the tribe Asher in the Hebrew records (Judges v. 17, cf. i. 32). Of this alternative explanations are given: the Asherites were a Canaanitic tribe absorbed later into the Hebrew confederation (which would go with the assumed eponymous derivation of the name and with the Biblical account of descent from a concubine) or the Hebrews who settled in the region took the name of the country (W. M. Müller, ut sup. pp. 236-239). On a stele of Meneptah discovered in 1895 occurs the only known mention of Israel on the Egyptian monuments (in the form I-si-r-'l) as a people whom Meneptah had reduced. This mention is complicated by the fact that Meneptah is now quite generally regarded as the Pharaoh of the Exodus; how, then, could Israel be in Palestine during his reign? Accordingly many commentators are disposed to see in the Israel of Meneptah's inscription a part of the Hebrews settled in Palestine who did not go down into Egypt and gave their name to the confederation in later times; these commentators regard as confirmation of this the occurrence of Yakob-el and Yosep-el (ut sup.). Light on the Exodus of the Hebrews comes not from the hieroglyphic, but from a combination of a Greco-Roman inscription with the identification of Succoth and Pithom through indications in the Coptic version of the Old Testament and through indications in Greek writers (see EGYPT). While the bearing of Egyptian inscriptions on Hebrew history and ethnology is thus vague and indecisive, if it has any value at all it is in the way of strengthening the case of the newer school of constructive history. (GEO. W. GILMORE)
II. Cuneiform Inscriptions.
1. The Name; Area Covered by the Script. Cuneiform, from the Latin cuneus, "wedge," was first applied in the year 1700 by Thomas Hyde, professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford. In that day Hyde was acquainted only with some rude copies of Assyrian characters, and with some equally rude copies of Sassanian and Palmyrene inscriptions, concerning which he argued that they were not letters, nor intended for letters, but were mere ornament. Later investigation has shown that the cuneiform method of writing is one of the oldest known to man and one of the most widely diffused, and that it sufficed for more than five thousand years to express the ideas of nearly a score of peoples, among whom were some of the greatest culture races of antiquity. It was invented by the pre-Semitic Sumerian inhabitants of Babylonia, was adopted by their conquerors, the Semitic Babylonians, and thence carried to Assyria. It was besides diffused among all the neighboring peoples and came into use as far east as Elam and as far west as Egypt (see AMARNA TABLETS).
2. Discoveries; Decipherment of Persian. The first modern observer of cuneiform characters was Pietro della Valle, about 1618 A.D., who copied from the ruins of Persepolis in Persia a few characters in random but fairly accurate fashion. The material thus provided was too scanty to stimulate any earnest effort at decipherment. The first opportunity afforded European scholars for study of the cuneiform was given in 1774 by Carsten Niebuhr, a Dane, father of the famous Roman historian, who had copied at Persepolis a number of small inscriptions, grouped in threes upon the remains of the palaces of the Achamenian kings. Previous travelers had expressed the opinion that three languages were represented in these Persepolis texts, and later study has shown the three languages to be Persian, Susian, and Assyro-Babylonian. The task of decipherment was rendered difficult by the fact that no bilingual inscription was found in which a known language occurred. The method of decipherment was to be archeological rather than philological, and the process was necessarily slow and insecure. The first efforts in decipherment of the Persian inscriptions-the simplest in each group of three-put forth by Freddrich Christian Karl Heinrich Münter and Olaf Tychsen seemed to show that these texts contained only forty-two signs, which were therefore mainly alphabetic with some syllabic values, but only a few correct values for the signs were determined. The first decipherment of an entire text was made by George Frederick Grotefend, who was almost continuously engaged upon decipherment from 1802 until 1844. The facts with which he began were that these texts came from Persepolis, and that the ruins there were the remains of palaces erected by Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes. He assumed, consequently, that each text began with the name of a king, and his success was achieved by comparison of two inscriptions, which Grotefend finally translated as follows: "I. Darius, the mighty king, king of kings... son of Hystaspes. II. Xerxes, the mighty king, king of kings... son of Darius, the king." This result was small in itself, but it afforded the clue for the decipherment of several languages, besides the three found at Persepolis. At the same time that Grotefend was engaged in this task, Major (afterward Sir) Henry Rawlinson was trying to reach a solution and in the same way. Quite independently of Grotefend he worked out some of the sign values, and, when later provided with Grotefend's results, far surpassed him in the power to translate Persian inscriptions. He discovered the great rock-cut inscription of Darius at Behistun in Persia, which he copied, laboriously and successfully deciphered, and published in an English translation, nearly complete, in the year 1846.
3. Decipherment of Babylonian Assyrian. The decipherment of Persian was followed by a determined attempt to solve the far more difficult problem of the Assyro-Babylonian cuneiform script, in which the third inscription in these groups of three was written. The first to attempt it was Grotefend, who identified the names of the kings, but was unable to go much further. Isidor Loewenstein secured the correct meanings of the signs for "king," "great," and the sign for the plural. He first suggested that Assyrian belonged to the Semitic family and was therefore related to Hebrew, Arabic and Aramean. Far more successful was the Rev. Edward Hincks (q.v.), who, in two papers during 1846 and a third in 1847, determined most of the numerals, assigned correct values to a number of signs, and seemed on the very verge of being able to read a whole text. His rigidly scientific spirit, however, restrained him from such an endeavor, and he worked steadily on with the patient solution of one difficulty at a time. When the immense mass of cuneiform documents which Emil Botta had discovered at Nineveh reached Paris, the hope of deciphering Assyrian increased because of the accession of material, but diminished when Botts, pointed out the great difficulty of the problem. He made little effort to decipher or translate, but collated all the inscriptions which they contained and made lists of all the signs which he found, differentiating 642 separate signs. This great number proved that the Assyrian cuneiform script was not alphabetic; some of the characters must be syllabic, some must be ideographs and represent a word or an idea. Botta's discoveries were carried further by Edward Hincks. In a paper read before the Irish Academy on June 25, 1849, he showed that there was a sign for RA, another for RI, and yet another for RU. He proved the sign for AR, and presumably also for IR and UR, though he did not fully define the last two. This represented a great advance in the study of the problem. Rawlinson soon dared to do what Hincks would not, and ventured to translate the great Behistun text. There was needed then only the minute study of the characters until the entire syllabic system with its polyphones and ideographs should yield up its secrets. To this not only Rawlinson, but in even greater degree Hincks, contributed, and also the distinguished French Assyriologist, Jules Oppert. Contemporaneously with the decipherment of Assyrian went forward the decipherment of the Susian, or second language of the groups of three found at Persepolis. In this work the chief leaders were Niels Ludwig Westergaard, Hincks, Félicien Caignart de Saulcy, and Archibald Henry Sayce. When Persian, Susian, and Assyrian (or Babylonian) had been deciphered, the foundations of the new science of Assyriology had been laid.
4. Origin and Character of the Script. The cuneiform method of writing originated among the Sumerians, the earliest known inhabitants of Babylonia. When the Semites entered the land they found in possession a round-headed people, of small stature and with. black hair, whose origin and racial connections are unknown. A small though learned company of scholars has maintained that the supposed Sumerians had no existence, and that their script, civilization and religion were all originated by Semites. This view has lost support, and can hardly be longer regarded as seriously disputing the current view as stated above. The cuneiform characters were originally a form of picture-writing. At first the pictures represented natural objects; they then became associated with certain words, and were used phonetically to represent the sound of the words without the meaning. In very early times, these rude pictures were scratched on any material that came to hand. Later stone was used for permanent records. But as stone is scarce in Babylonia, the easily worked clay took its place, and the straight lines made by a single pressure on the stylus tended to become wedges. The pictures therefore lost their original character and gradually became groups of wedges which were so thoroughly conventionalized that it is now impossible to determine their origin save in a very few cases. Even to the Assyrians themselves the original form of but very few characters was known, though a few tablets still preserved (cf. TSBA, vi. 454 and Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in British Museum, part v., London, 1898) show that the Assyrians retained a consciousness of the pictorial origin of their script. The Assyrians never developed a consonantal alphabet. They had only a syllabary, with separate signs for the vowels a, i or e, and u. The syllabic signs consisted, in the first instance, of a separate sign for each consonant with each separate vowel, thus, ab, ib, ub, ba, bi, bu, ag, ig, ug, ga, gi, gu, the former serving also for ap, ip, up, etc. In addition to these simple syllables, the script had a large number of compound signs, such as bal, bil, kak, man, kun, etc. There were also very many ideograms, a sign being used as the symbol for a whole idea; thus there was a single sign for ilu, "god," belu, "lord," aplu, "son," duppu, "tablet," umu, "day." Difficulties are further increased by the fact that many signs are polyphonous; a single sign may have several syllabic values, and besides may stand as an ideogram for several ideas. The difficulties were somewhat lessened by the use of signs called determinatives placed before a word to show the class to which it belonged.
ROBERT W. ROGERS.
III. Christian Inscriptions: By Christian inscriptions in this article are meant non-literary writings executed or provided by Christians which have some relation to the Christian religion. Christian epigraphy is concerned with inscriptions carved, scratched, painted, or stamped on various materials, such as stone, metal, clay, ivory, and wood, intended to designate the source or purpose of an object, and also with documents which, on account of general or permanent interest, are inscribed on durable material, usually stone or metal. This comparatively new science has hitherto devoted its attention chiefly to the days of the early Church, but it is hoped that more attention will be paid to the collection and study of medieval and later inscriptions which are in danger of perishing with the lapse of time.
1. Ancient Christian Inscriptions.
1) Methods of Writing. (1) Letters, and figures. The workmen who made the earliest Christian inscriptions adopted the letters and numeral system of their predecessors, which was already old, and continued its development steadily, except in cases of deliberate archaism. Thus by degrees new forms arose, more slowly in some places than in others, and usually later in the provinces than in Rome. At the date of the earliest Christian inscriptions, there were three principal types of. characters: one used for carving on stone or metal, one for painting on walls or woodwork, which corresponded to that inscribed on parchment or papyrus, and the vulgar or cursive script, which was either impressed on soft material such as wax, fresh clay, or plaster, or scratched on a hard surface, especially walls (the so-called graffito). These three types were not always sharply distinguished, and Christian epigraphy shows examples that can with difficulty be assigned to any of the three classes, and others in which the forms appear in a confused mixture-sometimes even one half of a letter being in monumental and the other half in painter's script. The most important class of letters, in the Christian as in the older pagan inscriptions, is the capitals, including the largest number of symbols for letters and numbers. Besides these there were the uncial forms, developed from the capitals by the rounding off of sharp angles, and the cursive form, which sought for speed in writing by using as few separate strokes as possible. This last form occurs among the dated inscriptions in Rome as early as 291.
(2) Ligatures. In the formation of words the letters are sometimes separate, sometimes two or more are united into a single symbol. These ligatures were originally peculiar to coins, where the limited space made them useful, and then were adopted in inscriptions. The rule for reading them was that each element entering into their composition was to be read only once. From the ligatures developed the monogrammatic signs, which continued even in the Middle Ages to be employed for imperial signatures and the like.
(3) Abbreviations. The words may be either written in full or abbreviated, sometimes to a single letter. The omission of letters is indicated by strokes or projections above, below, or beside the letters, or by periods and other signs following them. Connected with these signs are the strokes frequently, though not invariably, placed over numbers to distinguish them from ordinary letters.
(4) Punctuation. A large number of various punctuation-marks were used. The commonest is the period, usually written, not on the line, but half-way up the letters; its shape is generally round or approximately so; sometimes it is represented by a small circle, and less often by two sides of a triangle in various positions. Out of this latter form developed leaves, somewhat like ivy-leaves, which used to be considered as intended for pierced hearts, and thus as signs of martyrdom. Occasionally the Greek cross, or even the Chi Rho, is used as a punctuation mark. It was the rule in the classical period to place punctuation-marks only within lines, not at the end, but in many Christian monuments this rule is not observed; indeed, in many the entire system of punctuation is irregular, points being placed even in the middle of words-though this is to be distinguished from "syllable punctuation," where the syllables were divided to facilitate reading.
(5) Direction of the writing. Writing from right to left had become very rare among the Greeks and Romans at the date of the earliest Christian inscriptions, and only a few instances of it occur among them. While no certain example of the ancient boustrophedon form is known, there are a number which are read downward, and arrangements still less usual exist, dictated sometimes by the shape of the space at command, but in other cases probably by nothing more than a love of singularity.
2) Languages Employed. The great majority of extant early Christian inscriptions are in Latin, Greek coming next. Even in the West there is a considerable number of Greek inscriptions, generally for or by people who were not Greeks, but Romans. This phenomenon finds a parallel in the fact that the earliest Christian literature was in Greek, even when the authors lived in the West. The parallel, however, must not be pressed too far, since they were educated men, while most of those to whom the inscriptions are due belonged to the lower classes. The number of Greek inscriptions, even in Rome, is to be explained by the fact that in the primitive Church Greek was the official language. All the third-century popes who are buried in the catacombs of St. Calixtus have Greek inscriptions, while Cornelius, whose grave is in his family burying-ground, has a Latin one. The mixture of Greek and Latin in a number of inscriptions is probably due less to defective education than to an instinctive opposition in people's minds to the use of a language which was really foreign to them. An interesting light is thus thrown upon the final struggle of the two languages in the West, beginning while Greek was still the ecclesiastical tongue. After the second century Greek inscriptions and those showing a mixture of Greek and Latin become increasingly rare, and Pope Damasus uses nothing but Latin. The linguistic qualities of the inscriptions deserve careful study as giving an insight which cannot be obtained from literature into the speech of the common people. While departures from classical orthography are to be attributed partly to ignorance or carelessness, this is not so much the case with the vocabulary and the grammar, which in many of the later Latin inscriptions clearly show the transition to the Romance languages. The inscriptions are, like the pagan ones, either in prose or in verse, prose inscriptions being the more numerous, especially in the earlier period. The Hebrew language, except in the case of amulets, which are rather Jewish-pagan than Christian, is very rare; only one Christian inscription in that language has thus far been discovered in Rome.
3) Contents. (1) To inscriptions in the narrower sense belong honorific inscriptions and a large class of eulogies of saints and martyrs, especially those of Damasus. Partly to this class and partly to the dedicatory belong numerous inscriptions on public buildings, especially churches and parts of churches, such as altars and ambones. But the largest class is composed of funeral inscriptions, on tablets, gravestones, or sarcophagi. Those on stone are usually carved or scratched, sometimes painted in addition, most often in red. Relatively few occur with the painted script, which was more often used on tiles, in red, black, and occasionally white. The wooden tablets which in Egypt Christians and non-Christians alike placed near the mummies of the departed are usually inscribed with a dark ink, or painted. Other methods are occasionally employed, such as the frequent use of mosaic in North Africa and Spain. An equally great diversity is visible in the style of the inscriptions, though a careful study reveals a more or less regular development of definite formulas. In many cases the influence of the custom and taste of the period or locality is discernible, others show traces of a conscious adherence to ancient tradition. Thus the phrase Dis Manibus, so frequently used on pagan tombs to dedicate them to the manes of the deceased, occurs in no less than 134 cases of undoubted Christian inscriptions-not, of course, with the old meaning, but merely as a traditional formula; and the same is true of the phrases domus aeterna, aeternalis, perpetua for the grave. Belonging also to the class of inscriptions in the narrower sense are the large number of those on objects of domestic use; but their infinite variety makes it impossible to enter upon a detailed discussion of them.
(2) Of inscriptions in the broader sense (documents) the most numerous in the primitive Christian period are attestations of the purchase of a grave or agreements between the relatives of the deceased and the fossores or other church officials. These are sometimes exceedingly explicit, giving the names of witnesses, the purchase price, and the location of the grave. Documents expressing a gift in the giver's name become frequent in the Middle Ages, but examples are not lacking toward the end of the early period. Another class of inscriptions gives the fasts, calendars, cycles, or lists of saints; of this kind one of the most famous is the Easter cycle on the base of the statue of Hippolytus. Under this general head also come the graffiti, or inscriptions scratched upon the walls of the Catacombs.
4) Value of the Material. Christian inscriptions, especially those of the early Church, deserve careful attention by students of history. While not a single original manuscript of this period is extant, and a succession of copyists has introduced a variety of difficulties into the text of literary works, the inscriptions are practically in their original shape. It has therefore long been admitted, in theory at least, that inscriptions deserve the first place among the sources for the history of their period. Again, the literature of a period is practically all the work of learned or at least well-educated men, and gives only a secondhand account of the thoughts and feelings of the populace; while the inscriptions, the majority of which come from the lower classes, present these directly and faithfully, at least in religious and ethical matters. Much valuable historical material is found in them which would have been almost or quite unknown from the literary sources. Thus the schism of Heraclius in Rome is known solely from an inscription in the catacomb of St. Calixtus, and knowledge of an African schismatic community and its head, Trigarius, is confined to the notice of another inscription. The history of the planting and earliest growth of the Church in Gaul as told by the historians is fragmentary, and a complete idea of it can be gained only from inscriptions. Until recently almost nothing was known of the history of Christianity on the islands of the Aegean in the second century; but it is now possible, on the basis of inscriptions lately discovered, not only to show the existence of Christianity there, but even to determine its nature, a mixture of Christian, Jewish, and pagan elements. list of the writings of Hippolytus can be made complete only by the help of the inscription on the back of his statue. The frequent use of Scripture in inscriptions gives not only valuable indications of the manner in which it was employed in the early Church, but also useful points of departure for textual criticism. Not a few particulars of the marriage system are gained in the same way, especially as to the legal age, remarriage, and the marriage of clerics. The inscriptions are a more trustworthy authority for early Christian nomenclature than the manuscripts; and of course the customs connected with death and burial may be much more fully known in this way.
2. Medieval and Later Inscriptions. In the present state of inadequate investigation of this class of inscriptions it is impossible to give final conclusions as to their types of characters, language, and content. It may perhaps suffice to give some provisional observations on the results for a single country-Germany. The history of the characters employed is divided into three main periods. Speaking generally, the type known as majuscule prevailed until the fourteenth century, though with many variations. As early as the tenth century it took on the Roman form; in the eleventh and twelfth it was influenced by Romanic art, and adapted Gothic principles to its own use in the period of the latter's dominance. But the Gothic majuscule gradually gave way to the Gothic minuscule, which was the prevailing form from 1350 to 1500. In the sixteenth century, the character used in inscriptions (apart from conscious archaisms) began to be assimilated to the type of ordinary writing. As to numbers, the Roman numerals were regularly used until the fourteenth century, when the Arabic began to be common, without ever wholly excluding the older type. Ligatures are frequent in the Middle Ages, especially when the Gothic minuscules showed the tendency to do away as far as possible with spaces between the letters; but they become less usual from the sixteenth century on. Abbreviations also were very common in the Middle Ages, but later become much less usual. Punctuation was not systematic until comparatively modern times; in the Middle Ages the commonest marks were dots half-way up the letters, though crosses and other signs are occasionally used. The language employed until late in the Middle Ages was almost always Latin- seldom the vernacular, and still less often Greek or Hebrew. The Latin continued to be used on the tombs of scholars and in similar places until modern times; and the Renaissance brought in the use ¿f Greek, especially in the sixteenth century. Medieval inscriptions, like the ancient, show many peculiarities in spelling, vocabulary and grammar.
3. History of Epigraphy.
1) The Early Period. The first demonstrable collection of inscriptions is assigned to various dates within the period from 550 to 839; but a number of collections resulted from the Carolingian Renaissance, headed by the Codex Einsidlensis, the unknown author of which flourished in the eighth or early in the ninth century. These collections included both Christian and non-Christian specimens, and were made largely for the purpose of instruction in writing Latin verse. A period of inaction followed, closed by the revival of classical learning at the Renaissance. Cola Rienzi and Giovanni Dondi in the fourteenth, Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli in the fifteenth, and in the sixteenth century Felice Feliciano, Giovanni Marcanuova, Johannes Jucundus, and Petrus Sabinus were the principal collectors. Much new material was discovered in the sixteenth century, especially in the Roman catacombs, opened in 1578 by Antonio Bosio. The leading investigators of this century were Aldus Manutius the younger and Martin Smetius, while Melanchthon did not a little for the study, writing the introduction to the Inscriptiones sacrosanctae vetustatis of his friends Apian and Amantius (Ingolstadt, 1534), besides making independent researches of his own. The already published and newly discovered material was put together by Gruter, Scaliger, and Velser in their Inscriptiones antiquae totius orbis Romani (Heidelberg, 1602-03). More Christian material would have been included in Giovanni Battista Doni's Inscriptiones antiquae if he had lived to complete its publication, but as edited by Gori and others (Florence, 1731) a large part of this was neglected. Bosio also died (1629) before publishing the results of his labors, but they fell into better hands and appeared as Roma sotterranea (Rome, 1632). supplement to Gruter's collection was published by Reinesius, a Leipsic physician (Leipsic, 1682), while Spon, Mabillon, and Montfaucon were not only working at home, but undertaking journeys outside of France for the purpose of collecting inscriptions. The eighteenth century did less for Christian epigraphy in the way of large general collections than in that of local publications and monographs, particularly by such Italian scholars as Muratori, Maffe&hibar;, Zaccaria, Gori, Rivaute la Ricolvi, and De Vita.
2) The Nineteenth Century. From the Carolingian period down into the eighteenth century Christian epigraphy was as a science far behind classical epigraphy. But the nineteenth century has quite a different story to tell. Christian inscriptions are now collected with the same care and thoroughness as the classical, a result due in the first instance to the initiative especially of August Böckh and Theodor Mommsen; and they found in Giovanni Battista de Rossi a master who elevated the study of them from a mere dilettante amusement to a serious science. After Gaetano Marini had published, in 1785, his Iscrizioni antiche delle ville e de' palazzi Albani, and ten years later Gli atti e monumenti de' fratelli Arvali, scholars looked forward eagerly to the publication of his great collection of Christian inscriptions, which now fills thirty-one volumes in the Vatican library. But he died in 1815, and none of it saw the light until, in 1831, Angelo Mai published one of the four volumes planned by him (Nova collectio, v.), having in some places condensed the manuscript, and in some enlarged it from his collection. But no great loss to the science was involved in the failure of the others to appear, since (apart from other defects) his classification by subjects had now been finally discredited by Böckh. The German scholar, insisting on geographical arrangement, persuaded the Berlin Academy of Sciences to take up the gigantic task of uniting in one all the Greek inscriptions. In the great Corpus inscriptionum Graecarum (Berlin, 1825 sqq.) some scattered Christian inscriptions appeared in the first three volumes, but the main body ¿f them was united in the second part of Vol. IV., under the editorship of Adolf Kirchhoff. In the revised form of this great work, the parts of especial value for Christian inscriptions are that including Italy, Sicily, Gaul, Spain, Britain, and Germany (ed. Kaibel, 1890), and that on the islands of the Ægean (ed. Hiller de Gaertringen, 1895-98). complete Corpus inscriptionum Graecarum christianarum is hoped for from the French School at Athens, under the direction of Laurent and Cumont. Even more than Böckh accomplished for Greek epigraphy, Mommsen did for Latin. While he was not the first to conceive the idea of a Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum, in his memorial (1847) on its plan and scope he laid down the proper lines for its execution and carried out a great part of the work himself, the rest being done by his friends and scholars. An account of new discoveries made since the appearance of the various volumes is given in the Ephemeris epigraphica, 1872 sqq. Until the Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum is complete, it will still be necessary to make use of the older collections (which, indeed, will always have a value for their notes and illustrations) as well as of the works of the greatest authority in this subject west of the Vosges, Edmond Le Blant: Inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule (Paris, 1856-65); Nouveau recueil des inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule (1892). Long before De Rossi was requested by the Berlin Academy of Sciences to take part in the Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum (from 1854 until his death he was one of the editors of vol. vi. on the Latin inscriptions of Rome), he had planned and begun preparations for a collection of the early Christian inscriptions of the city. The results appeared in the Inscriptiones christianae urbis Rome septimo saeculo antiquiores (vol. i., Rome, 1851, vol. ii., part 1, 1888). The first volume contains the dated inscriptions, a preface which reviews the epigraphy of the past and lays down his own scheme, and extensive prolegomena, dealing especially with early Christian chronology. The first part of the second volume reproduces the manuscript collections from the so-called parchments of Scaliger down to Petrus Sabinus with admirable critical sureness and insight. Another work of like interest is the Museo epigrafico cristiano Pio-Lateranense (1877), containing photographic reproductions of the specimens in the lapidary gallery at the Lateran, together with noteworthy essays on various cognate subjects. Numerous other contributions to Christian epigraphy are contained in his Roma sotterranea cristiana (3 vols., 1864-77), in the Bollettino d'archeologia cristiana (1863 sqq.), and Musaici delle chiese di Roma, 1872-1900. Although De Rossi's enterprises were too great for accomplishment in even the longest and busiest life, they have not been allowed to drop. The continuation of the Inscriptiones has been placed in the hands of his old friend and faithful collaborator, Giuseppe Gatti; the (Nuovo) Bollettino has, since 1895, been edited first by De Rossi's brother Michele Stefano and his personal pupils, Stevenson, Armellini, and Marucchi, to whom have been, added, since the death of the first three, G. Bonavenia, P. Crostarosa, G. Gatti, R. Kantzler, and J. Wilpert. The completion of the Roma sotterranea, beginning with a fourth volume on the cemetery of Domitilla, has been undertaken by Marucchi, Wilpert, Gatti, Crostarosa, and Kantzler. For the medieval and later periods there is no single work which can be placed by the side of the Corpus inscriptionum Graecarum and Latinarum. (NIKOLAUS MÜLLER.)
BIBLIOGRAPHY: On I., besides the literature under Egypt, much of which is pertinent, consult: J. Dümichen, Historische Inschriften altägyptischer Denkmaler, Leipsic, 1867-1869; idem, Altägyptische Tempelinschriften. ib. 1868; P. le P. Renouf, Egyptian Phonology, London, 1889; E. Revillout, Cours de langue démotique, Paris, 1883; C. Abel, Zur Geschichte der Hieroglyphenschrift, Leipsie, 1890; Aegyptische Inschriften aus den königlichen Museen zu Berlin, 2 parts, Berlin. 1901-05; G. Karlberg, Den långa... inskriftten i Ramses III.'s tempel i Medinet-Habu, Upsala, 1903; C. R. Honey. The Egyptian Hieroglyph, Boscombe, 1904; R. Weill, Recueil des inscriptions du Sinai, Paris, 1904; and especially numerous papers in PSBA and TSBA, in the Memoirs of the Egypt Exploration Fund, in ZDMG, JA, Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Alterthumskunde, and the Revue égyptologique. On the Rosetta Stone consult H. Brugsch, Die Inschrift von Rosetta, Berlin. 1850; F. Chabas, L'Inscription hiéroglyphique de Rosetta, Paris, 1867; S. Sharpe, The Rosetta Stone in Hieroglyphics and Greek, London, 1871; J. J. Hess, Der demotische Teil der... Inschrift von Rosette übersetzt, Freiburg. 1902; E.A.T.W. Budge, The Decrees of Memphis and Canopus, 3 vols.. London. 1904. On the Meneptah inscription consult Spiegelberg, Sitzungsberichte der Berliner Akademie, 1896. pp. 593 sqq.; G. Steindorff, in ZATW, 1896, pp. 330 sqq.; A. Wiedemann, in Muséon, 1898. pp. 1-19. On the relation of the inscriptions to the Bible the most sober and scientific discussion is by S. R. Driver in Authority and Archaeology, Sacred and Profane, ed. D. G. Hogarth, London, 1899.
II. A great deal of the literature under ASSYRIA; BABYLONIA bears on the inscriptions. and some of the principal collections are named there. Consult further: R. E. Brunow, Classified List of All Simple and Compound Cuneiform Ideographs. Leyden, 1889-97; P. T. Dangin, Recherches sur l'origine de l'écriture cunéiforme, Paris, 1898-99; F. Delitzsch, Die Entstehung des ältesten Schriftsystems oder der Ursprung der Keilschrifizeichen, Leipsic, 1896-98; P. Toseanne, Les Signes sumériens dérivés, Paris, 1905; A. V. W. Jackson, Persia Past and Present, New York. 1906; H. Pognon, Inscriptions sémitiques de la Syrie. de la Mesopotamie, et de la région de Messoul, Paris, 1907; A. H. Sayce, The Archaeology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions. New York, 1907. On the decipherment: R. W. Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria, vol. i., New York, 1900; A. J. Booth, The Discovery and Decipherment of the Trilingual Cuneiform Inscriptions, London, 1902; L. Messersehmidt, Die Entzifferung der Keilinschrift, Berlin, 1903; C. Fossey, Manuel d'assyriologie, vol. i., Paris, 1904.
III. The most important literature is named in the text. A most useful article will be found in DCA, i., 841-862, which includes a list of the abbreviations occurring most frequently in the inscriptions and the way they are to be read. Further consult: E. le Blant, Manuel d'épigraphie chrétienne d'après les marbres de la Gaule, Paris, 1869; idem, L'Epigraphie chrétienne en Gaule et dans l'Afrique romaine, ib. 1890; J. McCaul, Christian Epigraphs of the First Six Centuries, London, 1869; G. Petrie, Christian Inscriptions in the Irish Language, ed. M. Stokes, Dublin, 1870 sqq.; J. A. Martigny, Dictionnaire des antiquités chrétiennes, pp. 357 sqq., Paris, 1877; F. X. Kraus, Roma sotterranea, pp. 431 sqq., Freiburg. 1879; idem, Real-Encyklopädie der christlichen Alterthümer, ii. 39 sqq., ib. 1886; V. Schultze, Die Katakomben, pp. 233 sqq., Leipsic, 1882; H. Otte, Handbuch der kirchlichen Kunst-Archaologie des deutschen Mittelalters, i., 395 sqq., ib. 1883; J. R. Allen, Christian Symbolism in Great Britain and Ireland before the 13th Century, London, 1888; E. Hübner, Inscriptiones Hispaniae Chriatianae, 2 vols., Berlin, 1900; Haddan and Stubbs, Councils (for inscriptions in Great Britain) and the literature under CEMETERIES, particularly that on the Catacombs given there.