What is Epigraphy?

The ancient writings had their meaning in their respective cultural and historical eras. Therefore, to learn about the past, it is essential to learn what exactly these writings mean. The process of determining, studying and analyzing these ancient graphemes is called epigraphy. The specialists in this field (and the people who are dedicated to researching these ancient writings) are called epigraphs. To conduct a large-scale study of historical documents, the epigraphs reconstruct the texts, translate the words and perform a dating test to identify the time when the inscription could have been written. It is also important to note that epigraphy is a branch of archeology.

History of epigraphy

Epigraphy has been practiced for some time. Different cultures around the world have done it in their own way of meeting their needs. Initially, Latin documents were the subject of intense studies by European epigraphs that included Georg Fabricius. The largest collection of Latin writings called Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, was the product of the work done by Memmosen together with fellow scholars who did extensive research on them. Despite the interruptions of the Prussian wars at that time, the documents were published in Berlin since 1863. The Greek writings were also published in Berlin during the period of 1827-1877 under the title, Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum. Other series of publications that have been extensively studied and published by epigraphs include, among other things, Roman writings,

Epigraphy forms

Historical materials are available in different forms that require epigraphs to use different methods to manage and analyze them. These materials can be written on stone tablets, marble and wood surfaces. The methods used must respond to the unique challenges that each element brings, for example, limestone does not have a smooth surface, so analyze the inscriptions written on it. The clay inscriptions, however, are easier to decipher since they were made when the clay was still soft and subsequently hardened by the fire in the furnaces. Tools such as the chisel were often used to write on wood, stone and metal surfaces. A hammer was also during chipping, mainly when working on hard surfaces like rocks.

Purpose of epigraphy

The rulers widely used the inscriptions in ancient times to register their edicts and decrees for their subjects. In ancient Greece, they were placed in the Acropolis where every Greek citizen would read the important decrees made by the people. Information on government spending has also been included. In Greek temples inscriptions were used to record financial matters such as the payment of loans, gifts and property sold or purchased by religious leaders. The rituals were also recorded for the sole purpose of guiding the faithful on the correct procedure of conducting them. Thus, epigraphy helps to reveal all this ancient knowledge stored in the form of writing over a period of centuries.

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