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The Stones of Ancient Latium

Inscriptions, Archaeological Remains, and the Geographic Contexts of Latium Vetus

2011 Latium Vetus Program

In 2009, the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata,” in collaboration with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio, the Berlin Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom commenced work on a database of the inscriptions of Ancient Latium: La Biblioteca Digitale delle Inscrizioni del Latium Vetus.

Beginning in Summer 2011, a collaborative project between Tufts University and Roma Tor Vergata allowed students to directly study the c. 5,000 inscriptions of Ancient Latium within the context of the sites and archaeology of the vicinity of Rome, and to contribute to the ongoing project of digitizing and publishing these inscriptions.

In the context of this ongoing scholarly collaboration, the 2011 Latium Vetus Summer Program offered an intensive program of first-hand epigraphic and site study based at the campus of Tor Vergata University near Rome and led by Dr. Monica Berti of Roma Tor Vergata and Dr. J. Matthew Harrington of Tufts University.  This program combined close study of epigraphic remains with exploration of the archaeological sites of Latium and Campania and the analysis of relevant Latin sources.  This program of study took the form of an interdisciplinary course entitled: The Stones of Ancient Latium: Inscriptions, Archaeological Remains, and the Geographic Contexts of Latium Vetus, and composed of three interlocking components:


Students will learn the techniques of modern epigraphic study, including digital transcription and documentation of inscriptions, and they will have the unique opportunity to work on unpublished documents of the huge corpus of inscriptions of ancient Latium. The Program will focus on many different aspects concerning the study of ancient epigraphy:

  • material and scripts of inscriptions
  • producing the epigraphic “scheda” and using Leiden conventions to indicate the condition of an epigraphic text in a modern edition
  • textual and historical interpretation of inscriptions
  • EpiDoc Guidelines for encoding inscriptions in TEI XML
  • Treebanking protocols for syntactic analysis of Latin
  • digital resources and repositories of Latin inscriptions: EAGLE (Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy)


In collaboration with a number of expert guest lecturers, the directors led the participants through close study of the sites of Latium and Campania.  Sites were contextualized through lectures, readings, and student presentations.  The time dedicated to the study of the sites and material evidence of Campania was designed to provide a counterpoint to the epigraphic and archaeological corpora of Latium.  The Program visited sites including:


  • Sites and Museums of Rome and its vicinity (7 days) Ostia, Tivoli, Praeneste, Gabii, Lanuvium, Albano Laziale, Nemi, Veii, Anzio, Sutri, Cerveteri, Tarquinia, Tusculum, Falerii Novi, Lucus Feroniae, and other sites


  • Pompeii (3 visits), Herculaneum, National Archaeological Museum of Napoli,
    Paestum, Boscoreale, Oplontis, and other sites


Students will take a placement exam upon arrival that will determine which of two reading groups that they will join.  Readings related to the sites and events under study will be selected from sources including: Livy, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Petronius, Juvenal, and others.  Such study of Latin sources on site is intended to further contextualize the archaeology and inscriptions of Latium and to increase the student’s mastery of Latin usage; both of these outcomes contribute directly to the study of epigraphy.

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