Modern research on Raetic

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The following chapter is intended as an overview, to give an impression of the scope of Raetology, the level of investigation and the most important issues. It also serves as a publication history of the inscriptions. A more detailed resume of the history of research on Raetic, including summaries and discussions of seminal works, can be found in Schumacher 2004: 19–108.

Early finds and compilations in the 19th century

Modern research on the Raetians and Raetic based on both the classical sources and archaeological data begins with the work of Conte Benedetto Giovanelli, mayor of Trento, who published his book Trento. Città de’ rezj e colonia romana in 1825. Giovanelli referred to the information given by the classical historiographers and, following Pompeius Trogus and Livy, assumed kinship of Raetians and Etruscans (p. 53, n. 43) – though he argued a differing view considering the connection between the two peoples, holding that it was the Etruscans who migrated to Central Italy from the north (Giovanelli 1844; see also Niebuhr 1811–32 I [sub "Die Tusker oder Etrusker"] and Mommsen 1854–85 I [ch. 9].) Giovanelli associated the historical Raetians with two inscriptions found in places which lie in the area indicated by the ancients: the inscription(s) on the Situla di Cembra, also "Situla Giovanelli", bought by him in 1825 and published in 1834, and WE-1, also on a situla, found in 1845 during excavations prompted by Giovanelli himself, and published by him in 1845. The Matrei situla handle would remain the most northerly Raetic inscription find for more than a century.

As early as 1853, the ancient historian Theodor Mommsen found occasion to lament "die über alle Begriffe elende Schrift" (p. 199) encountered in the inscriptions of Northern Italy in general. He published a collection of all such inscriptions then known, including those on coins, which contained Giovanelli's finds, as well as the inscriptions on the Negau A and Vače helmets, which had already been put into Raetic context by Giovanelli himself, and the then lost Spada di Verona. Mommsen perceived the alphabets to be closely related to the Etruscan script, and hence coined the term "Nordetruskische Alphabete". Mommsen's work is distinguished by great methodological care and repeated caveats against drawing hasty conclusions from insufficient data. Considering this, it is even more impressive that, in spite of his small database (44 items in all), Mommsen succeded in correctly discriminating between different alphabets, among them a "Swiss alphabet" in the west, an alphabet of Padova/Este, a "Styrian alphabet" on the Negau helmets, an "alphabet of Verona" on the Spada di Verona, and a "Tyrolian alphabet" on Giovanelli's finds. Concerning the latter, he agreed with Giovanelli that the association of the finds with Livy's Raetians suggested itself, but observed that a relationship of alphabets did not prove a relationship of the underlying languages (p. 201, 230). For the identification of languages, Mommsen considered the available data insufficient.

Only two years later, Giuseppe Giorgio Sulzer published drawings of the inscriptions on Sanzeno warrior statuette and Pfatten stela, found in 1846 and 1854, respectively. In 1867, Ariodante Fabretti included all the "North Etruscan" inscriptions in his Corpus Inscriptionum Italicarum, adding, amongst a number belonging to other alphabet groups, an inscription on a bronze vessel from the Bozen area, which had been published by Conestabile in 1863. Wilhelm Corssen discussed the North Etruscan inscriptions in Die Sprache der Etrusker (p. 919 ff.), interpreting the lot as documents of Etruscan, which in turn he took to be an Indo-European language of the Italic branch. This view was echoed in Giovanni Amennone Oberziner's compendium I Reti in relazione cogli antichi abitatori d'Italia, which strove to link the historical sources with recent archaeological findings and linguistic theories. Oberziner, like Corssen, counted Mommsen's Swiss/Western inscriptions and some new Eastern Alpine inscriptions among the Raetic ones, ruling that "etnograficamente parlando i Reti non sono un popolo a sè, che pe' suoi caratteri si distingua dagli altri che abitarono l'Italia nostra, ma sono il complesso di parecchie sovrapposizioni etniche che ricevettero il nome comune di Reti probabilmente solo nel tempo abbastanza tardo degli Etruschi, ci conviene rintracciare queste varie civiltà nei monumenti" (XI). Despite this differing application of the term "Raetic", Oberziner's further subdivision of the script turned out fairly similar to that of Mommsen: he distinguished "retico centrale", "orientale", "occidentale" and "settentrionale" (the last group encompassing the above-mentioned new inscriptions from the Gurina (Gt 13–23, now part of the Venetic corpus) and those on the Negau helmets; p. 220, tab. 30). Linguistically, he held all the documented languages of Northern Italy to be related to Etruscan and the other languages of Italy.

It was the philologist Carl Pauli in his 1885 edition Die Inschriften des nordetruskischen Alphabets, who, relying on a corpus increased by twofold, continued Mommsen's groundwork and laid the foundation for detailed research. The largest and most important new group of documents at Pauli's disposal were the alphabet tablets from Este; as concerns Raetic, the only addition was the the horse bronze from Dercolo in the Val di Non. (The inscription on the key from Dambel, included by Corssen, was judged by Pauli [p. 37–41] to be an imitation of Situla di Cembra inscription on a mediaeval object.) Pauli distinguished four script provinces and assigned them new, un-interpretative names according to the main find places: the alphabets of Este, Bozen, Sondrio and Lugano (p. 46–58). While in at least two cases the epicentres of the alphabet provinces have shifted in terms of the numbers of finds, Pauli's names are still used today, even though they were intended only as provisional (p. 58) – Pauli himself wanted to change "Bozen alphabet" into "Trient alphabet" a few years later (AIF III: 189), but could not establish the new name. While he regarded the Bozen and Lugano alphabets as daughter alphabets of the Etruscan script, he believed the alphabets of Este and Sondrio to be derived from a Greek source on the Adriatic coast, and consequently distinguished between "North Etruscan" and "Adriatic" alphabets (p. 58–68; see also AIF III: 231). Based on the increased data, Pauli also attempted to identify the languages of the inscriptions, and correctly perceived the Indo-European affiliation of those written in the Este and Lugano alphabets, coining the terms "Venetic" and "Lepontic". The languages of the Bozen and Sondrio alphabets, perceived to be associated with the Raetians, he connected with Etruscan, and suggested – combining his findings with both conflicting theories concerning the origin of the Raetians – that while the latter was used by the population left behind when the Etruscans migrated into Italy, the first was the script of those Etruscan tribes which were later dispersed to the north by the Gaulish invasion (p. 96–112; see also AIF II,2: 181–199).

A growing corpus and PID

The late 19th and early 20th century saw a number of new inscriptions found, which were only published seperately and sometimes rather obscurely. Luigi Campi di Montesanto conducted excavations in and around the Val di Non, which brought to light NO-1, NO-3, NO-4, NO-5, NO-6 and NO-10, published between 1887 and 1905. A propos of his comments on the Meclo inscriptions, Pauli 1888 mentioned VR-1 and VR-2, the former having been published by Cipolla in 1884. Pauli was also consulted by Franz von Wieser about marks on two cists from Moritzing (BZ-7, BZ-8). In 1889, Wieser reported the discovery of BZ-2 and BZ-3 at a meeting of the Anthropologische Gesellschaft in Vienna. Oswald Menghin published RN-1 in 1914. A particularly important find came from the south: the Paletta di Padova, found in January 1899 during excavations in a courtyard of the Basilica di Sant’Antonio in Padova and published by Ghirardini two years later. In 1918, the archaeologist Giuseppe Pellegrini published the considerable find of Magrè. He defined an "alphabet of Magrè", distinct from Pauli's Bozen alphabet and with similarities to the Venetic alphabets, documented on the 21 pieces of antler, and also considered the southern inscriptions VR-3, which Pauli hadn't been able to place, and PA-1 to belong in this group. He did, however, perceive the similarity of the linguistic forms recorded in the Magrè and Bozen alphabets, and tentatively suggested a difference between a northern and a southern Raetic population, where the former had mixed with the Gauls, whereas the latter, termed "Euganei", was heavily influenced by (but not necessarily related to) the Etruscans.

Only in 1933 were the North Italic inscriptions again published together, in the copious edition of British philologist Robert Seymour Conway and his student Joshua Whatmough, The Pre-Italic Dialects of Italy (PID). Conway, who had been working on this project since 1907, limited himself to editing volume I, which contains the Venetic inscriptions, so that the other inscription groups (vol. II) were effectively attended to by Whatmough alone, though he relied heavily on Conway's notes. PID was a very ambitious project, both in scope and in method: the editors attempted to examine all the inscriptions themselves, or at least to have them examined by trustworthy colleagues. The sub-corpus presented as "Raetic" by Whatmough, in addition to the inscriptions already listed by Pauli as written in the Bozen alphabet and the ones mentioned in the preceding paragraph, included RN-2 (found in 1924) and thirteen inscriptions on various objects from Sanzeno preserved in the Ferdinandeum (SZ-17 to SZ-29). Whatmough also republished BZ-9, which had already been published loco obscuro by Orgler in 1866. Of inscriptions previously assigned to other groups, he included the inscriptions from the Val d'Astico (AS-1 to AS-14), which had been published as belonging to the Venetic corpus, but which he associated with Pellegrini's Magrè alphabet, as well as VR-5 (filed – correctly – as Lepontic by Pauli). He also counted the inscriptions in the Sondrio alphabet as Raetic, but considered them both alphabetically and linguistically deviant. HU-1 and BZ-17 were mentioned in the appendix. Whatmough, who had basically finished his volume by 1925 and published a preliminary paper in 1923, agreed with Pellegrini that a common language connected the inscriptions of the Magrè and the Bozen group. In opposition to Pauli, he argued that this language was not Etruscan or Etruscoid, but "the remnants of the speech of some tribe, the chief constituent of whose population was Western Indo-European, probably of mixed Celtic-Illyrean stock, which had been at some period of its history affected by considerable Etruscan intermixture and influence" (Whatmough 1923: 69). He assumed that the inscriptions were mainly votives, and accordingly read almost exclusively anthroponyms and theonyms, which he explained by comparing them to otherwise attested names, mainly of Celtic or "Illyrian" origin. As concerns the alphabets, Whatmough also dissented from Pauli in that he saw all the North Italic alphabets as directly derived from the Etruscan one, with the Magrè alphabet very similar to the Venetic alphabets, and the Bozen alphabet particularly close to the original Etruscan.

The Räterfrage and Tyrolean toponymy

The discussion of Raetic was long impeded by nationalistic feeling on both the Austrian/German and the Italian side, because the question of Raetic identity and affiliation was regarded as relevant to the political, linguistic and ethnic situation of what used to be the Habsburg Kronland of Tirol up to 1918. The debate centered on the "Raetic question" (Räterfrage) – the origin and composition of a hypothetical Raetic people, which was equated with the Urbevölkerung of both Tirol. The Italian side has traditionally favored the Etruscan theory, proposing a Mediterranean drift into the Alps since pre-Roman times as suggested by the classical historiographers, while the Austrian camp preferred to identify the Raetians with the omnipresent Illyrians. With regard to Pauli's results concerning the Etruscan character of the inscriptions found in the Bozen area and as far north as Matrei am Brenner, Friedrich Stolz conceded that Etruscans dwelled "im südlichen Theile des Landes" (Stolz 1892: 37) – that is, where an Italian-speaking population existed in his own time. (Literature on the ethnicity of the Raetians before Stolz can be found in his Anm. 14.) Stolz regarded the name raeti as a cover term, which allowed him to look for other ethnicities with which to identify the northern population. He introduced into the discussion Strabo's comment (Geogr. IV 6, 8) which mentions the Inntal tribes of the Breuni and Genaunes as being Illyrians. Stolz then channelled the problem into toponymy, with the pre-Roman toponyms of Tirol being widely regarded as Illyrian in the first place. Stolz' writings influenced prehistoric research in Austria and Germany until the cessation of "Panillyrism" in the 1950s, among others Oswald Menghin and Ferdinand Haug. Even Pauli, who had identified the Venetic tribes with the Illyrians, acknowledged the relevance of Strabo and had his Illyro-Veneti settle in the greater part of north-western Tirol, with the Etruscans only migrating along the valley of the Adige to Matrei (AIF III: 242 f.).

The 1920s and 1930s witnessed a linguistically based argument between the leading philologists in the field, conducted mainly in the journals Glotta, Studi Etruschi and the nationalistic Archivio per l’Alto Adige. Whatmough's opinions (also 1934) were accepted by Giuliano Bonfante, who took the Raetians for Illyrians. They were opposed by Rudolf Thurneysen, who suggested a lexical equation of Raetic þinaχe with Etruscan zinace, and Cortsen 1935: 181. Paul Kretschmer (also 1932b, 1940, 1943 and 1949), Vittore Pisani and Francesco Ribezzo (also 1934b) also recognized similarities between Raetic and Etruscan, but argued for a common ancestor: while Kretschmer and Pisani saw Raetic as an autochthonous pre-Indo-European language related to Etruscan (originally in Asia Minor), which at the time of the inscriptions was already being Indo-Europeanised, Ribezzo preferred to have speakers of a pre-Indo-European substratum including Raetic and Etruscan immigrate from Central Europe. Italian nationalism was represented by Carlo Battisti (in numerous papers, especially 1944 and 1947), who stuck with the ancients by identifying the Raetians with Etruscan fugitives, and fit this theory into an overall picture of migration from the south (and east) into the Alps. On the other end of the scepticism spectrum, Emil Vetter, who was responsible for the bibliographic reviews concerning Italic languages in Glotta, joined the debate in 1935 by remarking that he did not consider the Raetic–Etruscan equations compelling (p. 205). He maintained his sceptical outlook in 1943, suggesting that the Sondrio inscriptions ought to be kept apart from the Raetic ones (p. 70 f.) and that possibly even the Bozen and Magrè groups were not as close as generally assumed (p. 77), but later reverted to Kretschmer's position based on the finds of the 1940s and 1950s.

New finds and findings and Iscrizioni retiche

After 1945, excavations conducted in Südtirol and the Trentino brought important new finds to light. The bronzes of Sanzeno (inscriptions SZ-1 to SZ-15), found in 1947, shifted the epicentre of Pauli's Bozen alphabet to the west of the Adige. They were published in 1950 by Giacomo Roberti, and again in 1951 with a linguistic focus by Giovan Battista Pellegrini, who also mentioned SZ-38, SZ-39, and the inscriptions on bronze handles SZ-40 and SZ-53. Pellegrini also published SZ-31, which had come to light two years later, as well as two inscriptions from the Pustertal: the inscription on the Lothen belt plaque in 1951, and, together with Loredana Calzavara Capuis, one on a stone amulet. Another find from the eastern border of the distribution area, the inscription of Castelciés, which had been known among archaeologists for two centuries, was edited and assigned to the Raetic corpus by Michel Lejeune. Vetter discovered BZ-11 on a cist which had been published a few years earlier. Throughout the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, Leonhard Franz and Karl M. Mayr of the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum added a number of finds to the corpus, all published in the journal Der Schlern. Mayr published another inscription from the Pustertal (1954), the first inscription from the Vinschgau (1953), and from Bozen, besides BZ-6 (1962) and BZ-14 (1947), the first inscription which displays a mixture of Raetic and Roman features (1956). The Val di Non corpus was augmented with NO-2 (Franz 1958b) and NO-7 (Mayr 1957c). Franz, as the museum's Fachdirektor, made an effort to unearth all the relevant material preserved in his house, publishing not only the probably Latin SZ-68 (1953), but also a fair number of objects bearing rather doubtful characters, mainly from Sanzeno (1957, 1959).

1957 saw the publications of the first inscriptions displaying Raetic affinity in both script and language in Nordtirol – the "petrographs of Steinberg" (in fact situated in the community Brandenberg), published by Vetter, and two inscribed objects from the Himmelreich, published by Alfons Kasseroler – since Giovanelli's Matrei find. The Steinberg find especially made an impact, since the inscriptions were the first rock inscriptions associated with Raetic. The Steinberg inscriptions, as well as the one from Lothen displayed yet more alphabet variants, apparently akin to the Venetic alphabets. The "stagshorns" from the Montesei di Serso, on the other hand, found between 1962 and 1964 and published by Pellegrini & Sebesta 1965, represented a subcorpus very similar to that of Magrè, and established the inscribed piece of antler as a typically Raetic artefact.

While there was still some doubt as to the linguistic affiliation of Raetic (e.g., Pulgram 1958: 209), progress was made in detail: Pellegrini 1951: 321, though he later (Pellegrini 1969: 47 f.) lost his faith in the Etruscan theory, restated and expanded Thurneysen's zinace-equation, and observed that the lack of omicron in Raetic inscriptions could be interpreted as an Etruscan feature (Pellegrini 1959: 192). He also reintroduced the inscription on the Vače helmet, which now had linguistic comparanda from the Montesei di Serso, into the discussion. Vetter 1954: 74 identified the patronymic suffix; his finding was underpinned by Jürgen Untermann in the course of his re-evaluation of the name material of Northern Italy. In 1968, Ernst Risch, who had been invited as the token linguist to speak at an archaeological symposium on the Raetians in Chur (see below), gave an overview of the current state of research. He addressed methodological problems such as the doubtful homogeneity of ethnicity and language in Alpine regions and apparent linguistic and epigraphic variants in the inscriptions, but tentatively presumed a genealogical relationship of the surmised Raetic dialects with Etruscan. Furthermore, he definitively excluded the rock inscriptions of the Val Camonica and the other documents written in the Sondrio alphabet from the Raetic corpus.

Risch's tackling of basic questions of method and definition was pursued in 1971 by Aldo Luigi Prosdocimi, who addressed himself to methodological criticism, especially of the popular practice of interpreting inscriptions whose reading is not certain. Prosdocimi took an important step by explicitly defining denotations and limitations of the term "Raetic" (Mancini & Prosdocimi 1976: 116–118). He defined the term on the basis of script only, applying it to those North Italic inscriptions that are written in neither the alphabets of Este nor in those of Lugano or Sondrio, and pointed out that, while the area of distribution could be reasonably well demarcated in this manner, there are overlaps with neighbouring script provinces, and also offshoots on the margins. He stressed that there are alphabetic variants, and that the Raetic alphabet(s) may accommodate different languages, possibly including those customarily written in neighbouring alphabets. Accordingly, a language or dialect associated with the Raetic script could occasionally be found in an inscription in a non-Raetic alphabet. Furthermore, Prosdocimi cautioned against vague associations of Raetic elements with Etruscan comparanda, as the undeniable "sapore etruscoide" (p. 116) of the Raetic inscriptions could be due to a common ancestor, to one being a younger stage of the other, to secondary influence of one on the other, or result simply from the narrow view of Indo-Europeanists, to whom all non-Indo-European languages look vaguely similar.

In 1973, Prosdocimi's student Alberto Mancini produced a list of questions that he deemed most urgent, including problems of phoneme-grapheme-relationship, forms of graphemes, and also the still doubtful position of the Sondrio alphabet. Two years later, he published a lengthy article entitled Iscrizioni retiche (IR), in which he strove to update and amend the Raetic corpus as presented by Whatmough in PID. Mancini's is not a corpus as such, it is intended as a supplement to PID. Where Mancini considered the readings of Whatmough or earlier scholars to be wrong or in some way amendable, he gave alternative interpretations by himself or others according to the 1975 state of the art. He also collected the new inscriptions, including, besides most of the finds mentioned above, new material which he found in museums, mainly the Ferdinandeum and the Castello del Buonconsiglio. Apart from the considerable, but fragmented inscription on the Sanzeno situla, the short, but significant NO-13, and a number of minor documents, he augmented the corpus with "sigle" similar to the marginal material in Franz 1959, thereby being responsible for a good portion of the doubtful inscriptions and script-like scratchings which inflate especially the Sanzeno sub-corpus (e.g., on Sanzeno bowls, scythe rings and various other iron implements). The work’s great virtue, especially compared to the unillustrated PID, is the abundance of photographs and drawings, even if the quality of the latter is inferior.

Professional modern researchers have largely heeded Prosdocimi's advice – not so Maria Grazia Tibiletti Bruno, who contributed the chapter on Raetic to an important and much read compendium of the languages and dialects of ancient Italy in 1978. The revised version of Risch's 1968 paper, which appeared in the second edition of the proceedings of the Chur symposium in 1984, shows the author back-pedalling on the matter of Raetic–Etruscan cognation.

Die rätischen Inschriften and the "decipherment" of Raetic

The above-mentioned symposium on Raetic held in 1968 at Chur had an archaeological focus and was mainly concerned with the problem of establishing a methodologically sound connection between the historical Raetians, the inscriptions, and their potential archaeological context. Its results were published in 1970 as Der heutige Stand der Räterforschung, and again in 1984 under the title Das Räterproblem in geschichtlicher, sprachlicher und archäologischer Sicht. It gave a fresh impetus to research and presented some innovative ideas on the Räterfrage. In 1981, Reimo Lunz asserted that, nebulous as the Raetians as a people remained, the domain of the inscriptions co-incided with an archaeological group of the Tyrolean Late Iron Age, the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture (Lunz 1981: 198 ff.). This view is now widely accepted by the community, the Fritzens-Sanzeno group being even referred to as "retico" in the Italian literature (Marzatico 2001: 484).

After Mancini's update, new finds were discovered in Südtirol, the Trentino and the Veneto, where the Spada di Verona, which had gone missing 300 years prior, was recovered and republished by Anna Marinetti in 1987 – an important work, where for the first time a segmentation of a Raetic text on purely structural grounds was attempted. Marinetti also published new finds from the area of Verona (VR-4 in 1991 and incriptions from Montorio Veronese and San Giorgio di Valpolicella in 2004). Four inscriptions from Trissino were published by Mancini 1995; FI-1 was published in 1981 by Carlo Sebesta. From the northern area, inscriptions from the Eisacktal and the Pustertal were published by Dal Rì 1987 and Marinetti 1992 (PU-5PU-11). In 1999, Alessandro Morandi submitted a comprehensive study of the Castelcies opisthograph, which included new readings of many Reatic inscriptions. Stefan Schumacher, besides the new material in his edition (see below), published further bone objects from the Vinschgau (1994) and two newfound bronzes (HU-5, HU-6; 1994b).

In 1992, Schumacher's Die rätischen Inschriften, intended as a preliminary work to a proper corpus, sought to combine the data from PID and IR. It contains a collection of all inscriptions then known, with a sigla system sorting them by find spot following the example of Pellegrini & Prosdocimi 1967 for the Venetic corpus. The new material included by Schumacher comprises more finds from the Inntal, the Eisacktal and the Vinschgau (VN-2VN-4), minor inscriptions from the Val di Non, a number of finds from Bozen, and a ceramic fragment bearing characters from the Engadin, which had already been mentioned in Risch 1984. Schumacher's work made possible an overall view of the inscriptions and the language they encoded, and laid the basis for new insights, which were published by Schumacher himself (1993, 1998, 1999) and by the Etruscologist Helmut Rix, whom Schumacher had consulted on the question of Raetic–Etruscan parallels (Schumacher 1998: 90 [n. 1]; Rix 1998: 8 f.). Schumacher and Rix could not only demonstrate the language of the Raetic inscriptions to be more homogeneous than expected, they also established its genealogical relationship with Etruscan based mainly on the grammatical endings of the pertinentive case and of the deverbal noun. Raetic was shown to employ a syntactic construction also found in archaic Etruscan, and to have a patronymic name system which can be connected to that of Proto-Etruscan. The language from which both Raetic and Etruscan, and also Lemnian in Asia Minor, derive was termed Proto-Tyrsenian by Rix 1998: 59 f.

In 2004, Schumacher updated his collection for a second edition, augmenting it with a summarisation of the recent findings and a few new inscriptions. Apart from yet more bone objects with short inscriptions from the Vinschgau, he published the substantial IT-4 on an elaborately carved piece of antler, and included the Latinoid inscription on the Maderneid stela published by Mayr (as BZ-I) as well as an inscription on a silver ring from the very north of the distribution area, published by Ziegaus & Rix 1998. He also decided to finally introduce the Negau helmets into the corpus. Based on new drawings traced from a cast which had been made in 1993 as well as on Adolfo Zavaroni's 2004 re-evaluation of the letter forms, Schumacher reread and conclusively interpreted (some of) the Steinberg petrographs (p. 342–356).

Recent developments

In recent years, the Raetic corpus was augmented by a considerable number of linguistically relevant finds, mainly from the northern and southern parts of the Raetic area. Marinetti published more inscriptions from the area of Verona (Montorio and San Giorgio di Valpolicella) in 2003 and 2004 and from Bostel in 2011; the inscription on the Situla in Providence was conclusively shown to be Raetic by Diether Schürr in 2003. From the Inntal come IT-5 on a bronze tablet, published in detail in De Simone & Marchesini 2013, the shorter IT-7 and IT-8 (TIR [publication date 2014] and Salomon 2018), and two inscribed miniature shields (IT-9, FP-1) published in Kirchmayr & Schumacher 2019. Raetic petrographs were found by ANISA – Association for rock art and settlement in the Alps in Achenkirch in Nordtirol (published in TIR [2014]) and in the Ammergau in Bayern (published in Schumacher 2016). New inscriptions from the Central Raetic area come from the Val di Non (NO-15, NO-16, NO-17 and SZ-87 published by Simona Marchesini in 2014; NO-19 and SZ-94 published in TIR [2015]). Lunz & Morandi 2003 published a helmet hoard from the Bozen area (BZ-26BZ-29); an unusual inscription on a ceramic vessel from Stufels was published in Tecchiati et al. 2011: 40.

In 2009/2010, Mancini put forward a new edition entitled Le iscrizioni retiche (LIR), in which he introduced a new sigla system which is different from, but deceptively similar to Schumacher's. Mancini ignored new material after 2000, but included a number of old museum finds of "sigle" which had not made it into IR. (They are not included in TIR; see Raetica.) Mancini supplies extensive reference lists and previous readings, but the photographs and drawings are the same as in IR. Another edition – this one complete – was published by Marchesini in 2015 (MLR). Marchesini reverts to a linear numbering of documents and attempts a dating of the inscriptions on the basis of letter forms with the help of serialisation software. The edition includes new inscriptions from Bostel (AS-17, AS-18) and Sanzeno (SZ-96, SZ-97, SZ-98).

The TIR project was conceived in 2011 as a follow-up project to Lexicon Leponticum. The database, created mainly between 2013 and 2016, contains all inscriptions published in print; inscriptions which were first published in TIR are collected in Salomon 2018. All the readings and data on objects and inscriptions (except for documents which are currently untraceable) are based on first-hand examinations; new drawings and, where allowed, photos are provided. As of 2020, the edition is continuously updated and contains all new inscription finds and pertinent publications. See Project:About for a list of print publications which resulted from the project.

Fringe scholarship on Raetic

Like all epigraphic riddles, the Raetic inscriptions have attracted the attention of numerous fringe scholars and laymen, who are responsible for some of the more curious theories and also a few alternative "decipherments". They have been the cause for no little confusion and mystification about Raetic matters in fields that are only marginally concerned with the topic, and also among the public. Ferruccio Bravi in a book entitled La lingua dei Reti (1979–80) has made a brave attempt at a complete edition, including many very useable pictures, but his readings are bogus. The classical philologist Linus Brunner, who published various papers throughout the 1980s, believed the inscriptions to encode a Semitic language; the chemist Herbert Zebisch, who also put forward decipherments of the Phaistos disc and Linear A, preferred to read Iberian.

(Text: Corinna Salomon)


AIF I Carl Pauli, Altitalische Forschungen. Band 1: Die Inschriften nordetruskischen Alphabets, Leipzig: 1885.
AIF II,2 Carl Pauli, Altitalische Forschungen. Band 2: Eine vorgriechische Inschrift von Lemnos, Abteilung 2, Leipzig: 1894.
AIF III Carl Pauli, Altitalische Forschungen. Band 3: Die Veneter und ihre Schriftdenkmäler, Leipzig: 1891.
Battisti 1944 Carlo Battisti, "Osservazioni sulla lingua delle iscrizioni nell'alfabeto etrusco settentrionale di Bolzano", Studi Etruschi 18 (1944), 199–236.
Battisti 1946–47 Carlo Battisti, "Osservazioni sulla lingua delle iscrizioni nell'alfabeto etrusco settentrionale di Bolzano", Studi Etruschi 19 (1946–47), 249–276.
Bonfante 1935 Giuliano Bonfante, "Quelques aspects du problème de la langue rétique", Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris 36 (1935), 141–154.
Bravi 1979 Ferruccio Bravi, La Lingua dei Reti. II. Testi, Lessico, Repertori [= Clessidra 19], Bozen – Bolzano: Presel 1979.
Brunner & Toth 1987 Linus Brunner, Alfred Toth, Die rätische Sprache – enträtselt. Sprache und Sprachgeschichte der Räter, Gossau: 1987.
Calzavara Capuis & Pellegrini 1970 Loredana Calzavara Capuis, Giovan Battista Pellegrini, "Tavoletta Iscritta da S. Lorenzo di Sebato", in: Istituto di Archeologia dell'Università di Padova (Ed.), Venetia. Studi miscellanei di archeologia delle Venezie, Vol. 2 [= Pubblicazioni dell'Istituto di archeologia dell'Università di Padova 6], Padova: 1970, 235–253.
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