Punic-Libyan bilinguals

The Punic-Libyan bilingual inscriptions are two important ancient bilingual inscriptions dated to the 2nd century BC.

Punic-Libyan bilinguals
Inscription bilingue de Thugga.jpg
The first known bilingual inscription of Dougga
MaterialLimestone
Size69 cm high and 207 cm wide
Created146 BC
Present locationBritish Museum, London
Identification1852,0305.1-2

The first known, the Cenotaph Inscription, was discovered in 1852, played a significant role in deciphering the Libyco-Berber script, in which the Numidian language (Old Libyan) was written.[1] The language is however still not fully understood. The inscription once formed part of the Libyco-Punic Mausoleum (Mausoleum of Ateban) at Dougga in Tunisia, before it was removed in the mid nineteenth century and taken to London, where it is now in the British Museum's ancient Middle Eastern collection.[2]

The second inscription, the Temple Inscription, is longer than the first, and was discovered in 1904 in the Temple of Jupiter at Dougga. It is currently at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, with casts in the archives of the Louvre and the British Museum.

The Libyan inscriptions are the first two, and the longest two, published in Jean-Baptiste Chabot's 1940 work Recueil des Inscriptions Libyques (known as RIL), as RIL 1 and RIL2. The Punic inscriptions are known as KAI 100 and KAI 101 in the Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften.

Cenotaph (Ateban) inscriptionEdit

 
The first published sketch of the inscription (Jean Emile Humbert, 1817)
 
Punico-Libyan Monument at Dugga before the removal of the inscription

DiscoveryEdit

It was noted by traveller Thomas d'Arcos in 1631 in his correspondence with Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc; however this was not published at the time and was unknown to the explorers in the early 19th century.[3] It was rediscovered in 1815 by Count Borgia, and published by Friedrich Münter in 1821,[4] Jean Emile Humbert in 1821,[5] and Hendrik Arent Hamaker in 1828.[6] Munter wrote that: "On the right side it is Punic, or Mauritanian, because I find letters that seem alien to the Punic Alphabet, as far as we know it up to now; on the left are the letters of which a sample is given here. The right side is best preserved."[4][7]

In 1842, Sir Thomas Reade, the British consul in Tunis, ordered the removal of this inscription from the Mausoleum, which in the process seriously damaged the monument. Recognising the importance of the bilingual inscription in decoding the Libyan language, Reade had it dispatched to London for the 'benefit of science'. Reade demolished the entire wall in which the inscription was embedded, leaving the stone blocks that framed it litter the ground around the mausoleum. Two of Reade’s compatriots, Bruce and Catherwood, had taken accurate drawings of the building prior to the removal.[8]

DescriptionEdit

The Mausoleum of Ateban was built in the second century BC by the inhabitants of Dougga in remembrance of an important prince or dignitary of Numidia. Some have conjectured that it was built for Massinissa, King of Numidia. A limestone frieze with bilingual script was installed on the podium of the mausoleum. The left half of the inscription was engraved in the Punic language, the other half in the Numidian language. The bilingual nature of the inscription made it possible for scholars to decode the ancient Libyco-Berber script, which was written right-to-left.

TranslationEdit

A modern translation of the inscription indicates that the tomb was dedicated to Ateban, the son of Iepmatath, the son of Palu. Other names cited in the inscription, both Punic and Libyan names (and even possibly a Syrian or Jewish name), refer to the monument's architect and the representatives of different professions involved in its construction.[9][10]

Temple (Massinissa) inscriptionEdit

 
Louvre cast of the Dougga Temple bilingual (AO 4611)

The Temple Inscription was discovered in 1904 during the excavations led by Eugène Sadoux in the Temple of Jupiter at Dougga.[11] It is currently at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, with casts in the archives of the Louvre (ID AO 4611) and the British Museum (ID BM C-2).[12][13][14]

It is a dedicatory inscription of the temple, which it states was erected in honor of Massinissa, known for his involvement in the Second Punic War from Livy's History of Rome.[11]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Catherwood, Frederick. Account of the Punico-Libyan monument at Dugga, and the remains of an ancient structure at Bless. American Ethnological Society. pp. 474–.
  2. ^ British Museum Collection
  3. ^ Catherwood, Frederick. Account of the Punico-Libyan monument at Dugga, and the remains of an ancient structure at Bless. American Ethnological Society. pp. 479–480. I find, however, that Dugga was visited in 1631, more than two hundred years ago, when the Phoenician inscription alluded to in this paper, was first brought to light. A French traveller of the name of D'Arcos, who is allowed by Gesenius to have been a man of learning, embraced the Mohammedan religion in the kingdom of Tunis, and travelled extensively in those parts. He copied the inscriptions referred to and corresponded on the subject with the learned Isaac Peiresc, and furnished him with a copy, which not being a satisfactory one, he offered to send the stone itself; but Peiresc, with a good taste and feeling that scarcely exists at the present day, refused the offre, from an unwillingness to cause the ruin of an ancient monument which had survived so man ages. The copy of this inscription sent by D'Arcos was never published to the world, and its existence seems to have been forgotten.
  4. ^ a b Münter, Friedrich (1821). Religion der Karthager. Schubothe. p. 171. Diese Inschrift har der verstorbene Graf Borgia in Dugga, dem alten Tugge über einem Mausoleo gefunden. Sie ist also eine Grabschrift. Auf der rechten Seite ist sie punisch, oder mauretanisch, denn ich finde Buchstaben die dem punischen Alfabete, so weit wir es bis jezt kennen, fremd zu seyn scheinen; auf der Linken stehen die Buchstaben von denen hier eine Probe mitgetheilt wird. Die rechte Seite ist an besten erhalten. Ohne Zweifel ist es eine und dieselbe Inschrift in zwei Sprachen. Jede besteht aus sieben Zeiten, und die mittelste ise in beiden die kürzeste. Ich gebe die drei untersten der unbekannten Schrift. Vielleich liesse sich doch unter den Legenden annoch unentzifester Münzen etwas ähnliches finden!
  5. ^ Humbert, Notice sur quatre cippes sépulcraux et deux fragments, découverts, en 1817, sur le sol de l'ancienne Carthage, Haag, 1821, p. 8.
  6. ^ Hendrik Arent HAMAKER (1822). H. A. Hamaker ... diatribe philologico-critica, aliquot monumentorum Punicorum, nuper in Africa repertorum, interpretationem exhibens. Accedunt novæ in nummos aliquot Phœnicios lapidemque Carpentoractensem conjecturæ, necnon tabulæ, inscriptiones et alphabeta Punica continentes. pp. 1–.
  7. ^ Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Punica: "1. Premiere inscription de Dougga": "En 1815, le comte Camille Borgia étudia le monument sur place; sa copie des textes, bien imparfaite, fut divulguée par les publications de Münter, de Humbert et de Hamaker. En 1833, sir Grenville Temple visita le monument, dont il a laissé une description détaillée il emporta de l’inscription une copie plus exacte que celle de Borgia. Sur cette copie, Gesenius fit sa première tentative de déchiffrement; ayant reçu un peu plus tard une autre copie exécutée par Honegger, il reprit l'examen du texte , mais sans résultat appréciable. C’est à F. de Saulcy que revient le mérite d’avoir le premier compris le vrai sens de l’inscription, n’ayant à sa disposition d’autres documents que ceux qui avaient servi à Gesenius. La première reproduction satisfaisante fut publiée par Guérin, en 1862 ; elle a été reproduite par Reboud, et a servi de base aux travaux ultérieurs, notamment à J. Halévy qui, en 1874, a complété et rectifié sur quelques points les lectures de Saulcy, mais n’a pas su tirer un parti suffisant du texte pour l’établissement de l’alphabet libyque."
  8. ^ Gauckler, Paul - L'archéologie de la Tunisie (1896): "En 1842, Th. Read, consul général d’Angleterre à Tunis, fit démolir, pour s’approprier l’inscription, toute la paroi dans laquelle elle était encastrée. Vendue à sa mort, elle est aujourd’hui conservée au British Museum, tandis que les blocs de pierre qui l’encadraient jonchent le sol autour du mausolée. Deux compatriotes de Th. Read, Bruce et Catherwood, avaient heureusement pris, dès le commencement de ce siècle, des dessins très exacts de l’édifice. En s’aidant de leurs esquisses pour compléter les indications que nous fournissent les ruines dans leur état actuel, l’on peut arriver à reconstituer par la pensée le monument tel qu’il devait se présenter primitivement."
  9. ^ [Pierre Gros, L’architecture romaine du début du IIIe siècle à la fin du Haut-Empire, tome 2 « Maisons, palais, villas et tombeaux », éd. Picard, Paris, 2001, p. 417]
  10. ^ Slouschz, Nahoum (1942). Thesaurus of Phoenician Inscriptions (in Hebrew). Dvir. pp. 211–212.
  11. ^ a b Berger Philippe. Découverte à Dougga (Tunisie) d'une inscription dédicatoire d'un temple élevé en l'honneur de Massinissa. In: Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 48ᵉ année, N. 4, 1904. pp. 406-407. doi:10.3406/crai.1904.19857
  12. ^ Lidzbarkski, 1913, Eine Punisch-Altberberische Bilinguis aus einem Tempel des Massinissa Sitzungsberichte der K. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, no. 15
  13. ^ GHAKI, Mansour. Épigraphie libyque et punique à Dougga (TBGG) In: Dougga (Thugga). Études épigraphiques [online]. Pessac: Ausonius Éditions, 1997, ISBN 9782356132574. doi:10.4000/books.ausonius.8742.
  14. ^ Chabot, J.-B. (1916): “Les inscriptions puniques de Dougga”, CRAI, 119-131; (1918): “Punica”, Journal Asiatique, mars-avril.

Further readingEdit

  • Sir Grenville Temple, the 10th Baronet (1799–1847); (1834). Copy of a Letter from Sir Grenville Temple, Bart., to Lieut.-General Benjamin Forbes, M.R.A.S., Relative to a Phœnician Tombstone Found at Maghráwah in Tunis, and Presented to the Royal Asiatic Society. Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 3(3), 548-549. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25581778
  • Quincy, Quatremère de (1843). Lettre sur l'inscription bilingue de Thougga. Imprimerie royale. pp. 4–.
  • British Museum
  • F. Frances (Ed), Treasures of the British Museum, London, 1972
  • D.Colon, Ancient Near East Art, British Museum Press, London, 1995
  • R Parkinson, Cracking codes: the Rosetta Stone and decipherment, British Museum Press, London, 1999