From Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum
Jump to navigationJump to search
Transliteration: ?ẹḳiesiuṭikutanin / metḷainile
Original script: ?E dK dI dE dS dI dU dT4 dI dK dU dT4 dA3 sN dI dN dM dE dT4 dL dA3 sI dN dI dL dE d

Object: HU-7 situla (bronze)
Position: rim
Script: North Italic script (Magrè alphabet)
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Letter height: 0.70.7 cm <br /> – 1 cm
Number of letters: 27
Number of lines: 1
Craftsmanship: embossed
Current condition: damaged
Archaeological culture: Hallstatt [from object]
Date of inscription: third quarter of the 6th century BC [from object]
Date derived from: typology [from object]

Language: Raetic
Meaning: 'by ?ekie Metlaini given tanin' (?)

Alternative sigla: MLR 304
TM 563552



First published by Whatmough in Hanfmann 1940: p. 32 f. Kindly examined for TIR by Rex Wallace on 22nd September 2014.

Images in Hanfmann 1940 (photo and drawing = Schürr 2003: fig. 2a), Olzscha 1962: Taf. 4 (photo and drawing = Schürr 2003: fig. 2b = MLR = Marchesini & Zaghetto 2019: fig. 4), Schürr 2003: pl. XXI (photo = MLR) and fig. 2c (drawings), Salomon 2018: fig. 4 (drawing = drawing on this page), Marchesini & Zaghetto 2019: fig. 4 (drawing), and on the U.S. epigraphy project website (photo).

Length 13.8 cm (= 7.7 cm + 1.2 cm gap + 4.9 cm), running along the rim, starting at 0.9 cm to the right of one of the handle fittings (see drawing in Schürr 2003: fig. 1). Hardly damaged by corrosion – the situla was restored in 1961 and 1968, but according to Georgina Borromeo from the RISD Museum, the inscription has not been worked on in the process. As first observed by Lunz 1974: 318 f. (Anm. 961), the reading is impeded by a number of oblique strokes in the lower part of the inscription, disrupting most of the letters. As those strokes only occur on that part of the rim which bears the inscription, it must be assumed that someone made an effort to efface or invalidate what was most probably a votive inscription. According to Borromeo, the secondary strokes are "made with a chisel with a wider wedge than that used for the original text" (Schürr 2003: 147).

The older readings of Whatmough and Olzscha, both of whom worked only with photos, are largely negligible, as they fail to distinguish between original inscription and secondary strokes. Schürr in doing so could segment the text correctly and assign the inscription to the Raetic corpus. Letter 1 must be considered illegible. The discernible elements are a short vertical stroke in the upper part of the line, an oblique bar in the lower area on the right, and a shorter one on the left. According to Emily Egan from the RISD Museum, the longer diagonal stroke is part of the letter, whereas the shorter one is one of the secondary strokes meant to efface the inscription. Schürr settles on a small, inverted tau addT2 s whose bar fails to cross the hasta, which is too much of a stretch, even if no other letter fits the evidence better. The secondary strokes overlaying E d and K d are the only ones slanting downwards against writing direction (line d 01 s rather than line d 02 s), but the reading is confirmed by Wallace. I d is undamaged, followed by E d whose medial bar is overlaid by a secondary stroke. S d, again, is undamaged; I d and U d are clear despite the strokes. The next letter is a vertical, also crossed by a stroke; both Egan and Wallace could – upon prompting – discern a thickening at the top: T4 d. Then, another undamaged I d, and K d with a secondary stroke overlaying the lower bar. U d is damaged by two or three secondary strokes; Wallace confirms that there is no bar line d 01 s to make A3 s. Then another hasta with a thickening (apparently more pronounced) plus secondary stroke, followed by clear A3 s, only slightly damaged by a stroke on the left. Of N dI dN d, only the first nu is crossed by a secondary stroke. After the gap, M d, hardly touched by a stroke, then E d like letter 4, then T4 d like letter 13. The next letter is dubious: of the two bars extending in writing direction, Egan suspected the lower one to be a secondary stroke, hence Schürr's reading L d. Wallace notes that the lower stroke does not look like the other secondary strokes, and considers V d possible. A3 s and I d are plausible, though Wallace is again unsure about the identification of secondary strokes. N d and I d are undamaged; a secondary stroke is situated between the latter and L d. Finally, E d with a secondary stroke overlaying the lowest bar.

We can identify the words utiku and tanin, accompanied by what must be a Raetic individual name in the pertinentive ?ekie-si. Individual names without an accompanying patronym are by no means unusual, but the expected pertinentive II-ending -le, which marks patronyms, may be present in the otherwise opaque sequence metlainile. See Salomon 2018: 41 and Raetic Onomastics on the possibility of surnames in -i. Cf. WE-3 and maybe SZ-14 and SZ-1.1 for disjoined name elements; the reason for metlainile being offset remains, in any case, unclear (cf. NO-3).

Marchesini (in Marchesini & Zaghetto 2019: 333–340) recently proposed a partly new reading (also in MLR), with reference to the autopsy made by Wallace for TIR, but coming to different conclusions. Marchesini opts to identify the difficult first letter as iota: i?kiesi. Negating the possibility of tip-up upsilon in the 6th century, she prefers to read the entire second as inverted utiku, with the random inversion explained as a "refinement feature" (p. 337). In this orientation, letter 9 is read as tau T d, with the effacing stroke, which is thus situated on the hasta's upper end, serving as the bar. The third word is read in the same orientation as the first one φanin (see T on the interpretation of the character T4 s): 'to I?kie as gift (this) fanin [sic]'. In the fourth word, Marchesini again reads T4 s as phi and, again presupposing an underlying sound value f, compares Etruscan names beginning in mef-. Letter 26 is interpreted as pi; resulting final -pe is compared with an Etruscan postposition -pi (variant -pe). Marchesini argues that the text of the inscription relates to the decorative programme of the richly decorated situla, but neither her arguments for the association of artwork and inscription (p. 333 f.) nor any elements of her reading strike us as compelling.

On the same half of the rim, at about 3 cm before the other handle fitting, two characters which – according to Borromeo – "appear to be more deeply struck or struck twice" (Schürr 2003: 249). The area is more heavily corroded, and nothing can be made of the mark.

The inscription is included in the collection of the U.S. epigraphy project: Collections of Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA (RI.Prov.RISD.MA.Raet.32.245).


Hanfmann 1940 George Maxim Anossov Hanfmann, "The Etruscans and their art", Bulletin of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design 28 (1940), 1–35.
Lunz 1974 Reimo Lunz, Studien zur End-Bronzezeit und älteren Eisenzeit im Südalpenraum, Firenze: Sansoni 1974.
Marchesini & Zaghetto 2019 Simona Marchesini, Luca Zaghetto, "The Situla in Providence. A comprehensive analysis of inscription and decorative program", in: Simon Hye, Ulrike Töchterle (eds), UPIKU:TAUKE. Festschrift für Gerhard Tomedi zum 65. Geburtstag [= Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie 339], Bonn: 2019, 329–341.