New inscription from Sarteano

On display in the Museo Archeologico di Sarteano are artifacts recovered from tomb 16 of the necropolis of the Pianacce during the 2007 excavation season. Among them is an inscribed buccheroid plate (see photograph) dated to the 2nd half of the 6th century BCE.

The inscription is incised in sinistroverse direction without punctuation on the curved surface of the underside of the plate:

m<i> lariś riertu ‘I (am) Laris Riertu’.

The fact that the inscription is incised on a curved surface accounts for the rather crude shape of some of the letterforms. In addition, the scribe has made several errors. The iota of the first person pronoun mi is missing. The vertical bar of iota appears to have been mistaken for the vertical of lambda. The scribe aimed for a serpentine sigma, but was unable to execute the tail at the bottom of the letter, presumably due to the difficulty of incising on the curved surface. The error was corrected by adding an oblique bar at the bottom.

There are in addition several interesting paleographical features.

  • Lambda is smaller in size than the other letters.
  • The medial bar of the alpha is inclined in the direction of writing.
  • Rho has a full loop. In two instances the character is made by incising a pi-like shape, and then adding a stroke connecting the end of the oblique to the foot of the vertical.
  • The medial oblique bar of epsilon is longer than the upper and lower bars.
  • Sigma is written retrograde.
  • Finally, the horizontal bar of tau is inclined in the direction of writing.

The alphabet is the northern type, so sigma stands for a palatal sibilant. The personal name, lariś, is pronounced as /lariʃ/. The family name, riertu, does not appear to be a native formation. It is heretofore unattested.

Inscription on bucchero plate (Museo Archeologico, Sarteano). Photograph by Jason Bauer (7/7/11).