1. Scope and Purpose
The purpose of this collection is two-fold. In the first place it seeks to present, in concise and handy form, the substance of all the more important classical inscriptions of Tripolitania. Many of these are unpublished, many others published in works that are not readily available to the ordinary student. Others again, that have already appeared in the pages of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum or of L'Année Épigraphique, require revision in the light of the fresh discoveries of the last twenty-five years. These categories together constitute a percentage of the material sufficient to justify a re-edition of all the known inscriptions. Not least of the advantages resulting from this is the comprehensive nature of the indices. Texts of a domestic or ephemeral character, such as graffiti, brick- and pottery-stamps, and most of the painted texts have not been included, although references to published examples are included in the indices [Not in 2009 edition]. With this important exception, however, the only deliberate omission is that of the texts of three large groups of Christian inscriptions (261, 262, and 855), all of them published elsewhere and none of them available for re-examination, and of a recently discovered group of Romano-Libyan texts (886), which is being prepared for publication in another context. The contents of these texts have been incorporated in the indices [Not in 2009 edition]. The milestones, the subject of a recent and thorough study by R. G. Goodchild (see bibliography), are presented in summary form only.
The secondary purpose of this collection has been to record in permanent form the known facts about the discovery of each inscription and its archaeological context. The source of a considerable number of fragments, from the earlier excavations, that are now preserved in the museums of Lepcis Magna and Sabratha, has eluded identification; and, while it is to be hoped that the upheavals of the last decade may never be repeated, these events have made the desirability of a permanent record painfully clear. The same consideration applies with even more force outside the protected archaeological zones, and has been held to justify the inclusion of all texts, however fragmentary, that have been recorded either from the interior or from the coastal zone outside the Three Cities.
In addition to the main body of texts, written in more or less grammatical Latin or Greek, there are some, inscribed in Latin, or near-Latin, characters, but written wholly or in part in a Libyan or Berber dialect. It has proved impossible to exclude these. Some have already figured in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; while many include Latin words or phrases. As far as possible they are reproduced in facsimile. Texts written in Neo-Punic script have, on the other hand, been excluded, except that, in the case of bilingual or trilingual inscriptions, translations have, wherever possible, been given of the Neo-Punic text. The Neo-Punic inscriptions are of the first importance for the history of Tripolitania under the early Empire; but they must be considered to form a study in themselves. Many of these have already been published by Levi Della Vida1, and a complete edition is in prospect.
In addition to the texts published there is, scattered over the excavated areas and in the museums of Lepcis Magna and Sabratha, a very large body of small marble fragments, containing single letters or small groups of letters. Every effort has been made to relate them to existing texts or to each other; and with patience and ingenuity more could no doubt be achieved in this respect. In the meantime, however, the publication of these fragments without photographic illustration can serve no useful purpose. The principle of selection has been to include any fragment, the content of which qualifies for the indices, and such other fragments as contain recognisable groups of words. In doubtful cases preference has been given to those of which the find-spot is known. All previously published texts, however brief, are included, with the following exceptions:
CIL VIII, 22659a , of which the script is very dubious.
CIG 5129 and one other fragmentary Greek text, both of which are now in Tripoli Castle. The find-spot is in neither case recorded, but from style and content both are almost certainly strays from Cyrenaica.
Several patent forgeries published by Cumont in Riv. Trip. II (1925-6) 151 ff.
2. Geographical Arrangement
Geographically it has been found necessary to limit the present collection to the territory comprised within the boundaries of the modern Tripolitania. This has meant the omission of the inscriptions of Gigthis (Bou Ghara) and Tacapae (Gabès), and of that part of the limes tripolitanus which lay between the Chotts of south-eastern Tunisia and the modern frontier. Throughout the many changes of administrative organisation which the province underwent, this district was, for sound military reasons, normally grouped with the territory to the east. Its omission is therefore to be regretted; but under present conditions of travel it has proved unavoidable. With this exception, the area covered by this collection formed in antiquity, as now, a distinct geographical unit, within which, however, must be distinguished several well-defined habitable zones. Of these, by far the most important was the coastal belt, running from Misurata in the east to Zuara in the west, and comprising the rich, stable settlements grouped about the Punic foundations of Lepcis Magna, Oea, and Sabratha.
Inland from the coastal cities lay the Djebel (Gebel), the northward-facing escarpment of which runs south-west on a gentle curve from a point on the coast about 15 kilometres west of Lepcis, until at the Tunisian frontier it is nearly 160 kilometres from the sea. It nowhere rises more than 1,000 metres above sea-level, but this is enough to attract the bulk of the scanty rainfall and to support certain categories of dry farming. In antiquity the eastern part at any rate of this zone, inland from Lepcis, was extensively settled and cultivated. Between the Djebel and the sea, in the north-western corner of the territory, lies the Gefara, a barren, low-lying tract of near-desert, fit only for seasonal grazing. To the south and east, on the other hand, the high land of the Djebel slopes gently down to form the basins of the two great Wadis, the Sofeggin and the Zemzem, which drain eastward into the south-west angle of the Gulf of Sirte. This zone, the remains of a well-developed Quaternary river-system, is now desert; but in antiquity it was the scene of an extensive, if always somewhat precarious, settlement. To the west and southwest it is bounded by the barren, waterless wilderness of the Hammada el-Hamra, at all times an effective barrier to human settlement; while to the south-east it shades imperceptibly down into the Fezzan. To complete this survey of the habitable territory of Tripolitania, there are the isolated southern oases, important for the part they played both in the desert caravan-trade and in the Roman system of frontier-defence; and to the east lies the narrow coastal strip along the Gulf of Sirte.
The character of Roman settlement varied sharply from one zone to the next; and this diversity is clearly mirrored in the inscriptions. These have accordingly been grouped geographically, the boundaries between the individual sections being chosen to coincide as far as possible with the geographical sub-divisions enumerated above (see map 1).
3. Conventions and Form of Presentation
In the interest of simplicity and brevity of presentation, a standard form has been adopted throughout. The following notes will serve to clarify possible obscurities.
a) The objects inscribed
The following terms are used throughout to describe the objects upon which the individual texts are inscribed:
|Altar||A free-standing object or structure, dedicated to a divinity.|
|Base||A free-standing object or structure, other than an altar, of a shape suitable for carrying a statue or similar object. Two recurrent forms may be defined: a) Rectangular base. A base of plain rectangular form, with no mouldings other than those that may surround panels on one or more of the vertical faces. b) Moulded base. An altar-shaped base with mouldings, top and bottom, on three (or four) faces.|
|Block||A unit of masonry, forming an integral part of the structure to which it belongs.|
|Die||The dressed surface prepared for an inscription.|
|Panel||a) A thin sheet of stone or marble, applied superficially to a vertical surface, of which it is not a structural part. b) A reserved area, demarcated by a border, on the vertical face of a base, altar, or stele.|
|Slab||A piece of stone or marble set flat in a horizontal surface.|
|Stele||Any upstanding monolith, other than a milestone, the shape or inscribed content of which is such that it is unlikely to have served as a base.|
All dimensions are given in metres, in the order: breadth across the face x height x depth from front to back. Unless otherwise stated, all measurements record maximum surviving measurements.
Right-hand and left-hand are described from the point of view of the spectator.
The materials on which the inscriptions are cut are of considerable importance in assessing not only the date of individual texts but the significance of the series as a whole. With the exception of two Tiberian dedications, both of modest dimensions (335, 336), the earliest dateable texts inscribed on marble are contemporary with Trajan (352, 354, 355, 356); and it is not until the construction of the Hadrianic Baths at Lepcis in AD 126-7 (361) that there is evidence of any extensive architectural use of marble in Tripolitania. Prior to this date local materials were used; and in studying the first-century texts it is vital to realize that at Lepcis there was, from the time of Augustus onwards, an abundant supply of magnificent grey limestone; whereas at Oea and Sabratha the only local material was a friable sandstone, which could only be used under a coating of stucco that needed periodic renewal. The result is that, to match the fine series of first-century texts at Lepcis, there are less than a dozen from Oea and Sabratha together.
The materials commonly used on each site are discussed in the introductions to the individual sections. The term 'marble', unless specifically qualified, may be taken to indicate the grey-streaked white marble from the Aegean, which was imported in great quantities from the second century onwards and is the material on which the bulk of the later imperial inscriptions are cut. All other kinds of marble are described in detail.
d) Forms of lettering
The type of lettering used affords, in all but the simplest and roughest cases, a valuable indication of date. [Some of what follows is now irrelevant, since the 2009 edition is fully illustrated]. In the absence of complete illustration, the assessment of this factor must inevitably depend to a considerable extent on the judgement of the editors. Verbal description is no substitute for illustration; nor does reference to a standard collection of facsimiles such as Hübner's Exempla Scripturae Epigraphicae Latinae meet the difficulty that fashions in lettering were often remarkably local. There is a surprising divergence of practice even between two cities as closely related as were Lepcis Magna and Sabratha.
The plates at the end of the volume have been selected to illustrate within a small compass as wide a range as possible of the forms of lettering in common use, and to illustrate the terms employed to describe the lettering of the individual texts. The only one of these to require definition is the term 'Rustic Capitals'. In default of a better term, this has been used to denote the form of lettering that figures so commonly in the second- and early third- century epigraphy of Lepcis Magna (Pl. VIII: [nos. 295, 387, 456]). Originally a written or painted script, it was extensively used for lapidary texts also. Hübner, op. cit., illustrates a number of first-century examples (e. g. example 136, dated A.D. 56, from Pompeii, and example 187, Tiberian, from Nîmes); but in Tripolitania it is hardly found before the second century, and it is particularly characteristic of the Severan Age.
The incidence of the individual scripts is more fully discussed in the introductions to the individual sections.
Unless otherwise stated, the find-spot and the present location may be presumed to be the same. As a general principle the larger excavated inscriptions of Lepcis Magna and of Sabratha have been allowed to stand on, or near, the spot where they were found.
For bibliographical abbreviations, see Bibliography. In the case of texts published in CIL, the earlier bibliography is only repeated if the earlier editions are the subject of comment.
g) Photographic references
Photographic references are to the collections held by the Antiquities Department (Soprintendenza alle Antichità e agli Scavi) in Tripoli and by the British School at Rome. cited as Sopr. and BSR respectively. The numbers quoted are in each case the serial numbers of the negatives.
h) Map references
Map references are given throughout in terms of the British military 'Libyan' Grid (British military map series 1: 100.000 Tripoli and 1: 500,000 Libya). The corresponding Italian series carries no grid.
All texts, with the exception of those indicated by the phrase, 'Not seen', have been re-read from the stone. Divergences from previously published versions are not noted in detail, but the present text in every case represents the editors' considered version. The use of the term sic has been reserved for cases where a typographical error might reasonably have been suspected.
k) Text conventions
l) Neo-Punic texts
Reference is by serial-number. For the list of these, see Neo-Punic and Bilingual Inscriptions
4. Provincial Administration
a) From Augustus to Diocletian.
The little that is known of the history and institutions of the territory before the time of Augustus is all connected with Lepcis (q. v., Lepcis - 2. Historical Summary), possibly the oldest of the Tripolitanian Emporia (Lepcis - 2. Historical Summary) and certainly the most important, if not indeed the effective administrative centre. Tripolitania did not become a province until the end of the third century, probably under Diocletian.
Before this, it was administered as a part of the territories adjoining to the west, at first as an integral part of the original province of Africa, and later, after Gaius' reorganisation ( Tac. Hist. IV, 48 ; Dio LIX, 20, 7 ), divided into two zones, the interior under the legate of Legio III Augusta ( CIL VIII, p. XV ; 541, 854, 880, 908, 914, 915, 916), while the coastal zone remained under the proconsul Africae. The latter was assisted by three subordinate legati ( Dio LIII, 14, 7 ), operating each within a defined diocese.
Two of these dioceses, the Carthaginian and the Hipponensian, are known: it was presumably the third that included Tripolitania (for the activity of such legati in Tripolitania, see 232, 300, 330, 331, 338, 341, 342, 346, 361, 516, 531, 533, 534, 537, 538, 540); and it has been suggested that Lepcis was its centre (Romanelli, Leptis Magna, 24 ff.).
b) Provincia Tripolitana.
The latest record of proconsular activity in Tripolitania is in 283 (461); and the first certain evidence of a province of Tripolitania is in the reign of Maxentius (465, discussed by Bersanetti, Epigraphica V-VI (1943-4) 27 ff.; it has been conjectured that ILS 9352 is earlier). Its creation may well be the work of Diocletian. It was governed by a praeses (twice comes et praeses, 62, 563, 565), a v. p., subordinate to the vices agens praefectorum praetorio, who was at first a v. p. (464), later a v. c. (57, 58, 472, 473, 475, 558). The earlier praesides combined military and civil authority ( ILS 9352 , possibly Diocletianic; 101, c. 317; 565, undated).
By the sixties of the fourth century, however, defence had become the responsibility of the comes Africae ( Amm. Marc. XXVIII, 6, 5 ; see also 570, undated), and only exceptionally was military authority vested in the praeses. By 393 there was a special military commander for Tripolitania, the dux et corrector limitis Tripolitani (Cod. Theod. XII, 1,133; see also XI, 36, 33; Not. Dign. Occ. XXXI, 17 ; 480, 529). From the number of monuments set up at Lepcis to, or by, praesides and vicarii (464, 465, 468, 471, 472, 473, 475, 476, 519, 558, 562, 563, 565, 566, 569, 571, 574, 575, 577, 580, 581; see also Romanelli, Leptis Magna. 27-8), it seems probable that it was the capital of the province.
c) The Byzantine reorganization.
In 534, after liberating Africa from the Vandals, Justinian created a praetorian prefect for the whole territory. Under him, in Tripolitania, were a rector consularis and a dux limitis Tripolitanae provinciae, whose headquarters were at Lepcis ( Cod. Iustin. I, 27,2,1a ). Later in the sixth century Tripolitania was perhaps detached from Africa, and became a dependency of the Egyptian diocese (George of Cyprus, Descr. orbis rom., 795 ff.).
d) Organization of provincials.
A concilium existed in the province of Africa from the time of Vespasian ( CIL VIII, 12039 ); and a sacerdotalis provincial Africae is recorded at Lepcis early in the third century (397). In the fourth century Tripolitania had its own concilium, which met annually ( Amm. Marc. XXVIII, 6, 7 ), passed decrees, and appointed ambassadors to the imperial court (ibid.; 111), priests of the imperial cult ( Amm. Marc. XXVIII, 6, 10 ; 567, 568, 578), and patrons of the province (55).
For the collection of revenue in Tripolitania there was an office of the IIII publica Africae2 at Lepcis Magna (315a, 432, and probably 302). This office appears to have been divided into two sections, under a vilicus terrestris (315a) and a vilicus maritimus (302) respectively; and on one occasion the latter was concerned also with the XX hereditatium (302). No trace has yet come to light of the companies or individuals to whom the IIII p. A. were farmed in the first and second centuries; the recorded officials are all imperial officials or slaves, the earliest being of the time of Trajan (302).
f) Imperial estates.
An inscription set up at Puteoli by the Oeenses, in honour of an imperial procurator ( CIL X, 1684 ; perhaps Augustan), suggests the existence of an imperial domain in the territory in the first century; and a fragmentary and controversial inscription from Gigthis ( Cagnat-Merlin 17 , see Aurigemma, Epigraphica II (1940) 179 ff.; not earlier than the second century) has been interpreted as recording a p(rocurator) f(isci) at Oea. Specific evidence of a Tripolitanian domain in the early third century is given by two dedications at Theveste, by the Oeenses and Sabrathenses respectively, to a procurator patrimonii regionis Leptiminensis et privatae regionis Tripolitanae ( CIL VIII, 16542 and 16543 , perhaps 211-212; see also CIL VIII, 11105 ): later in the third century two monuments at Sabratha perhaps record the same office (97, 184). But the relevant texts are few; and the grouping of the Tripolitanian domains with others in Byzacena confirms the impression that, in comparison with the huge imperial properties elsewhere in Africa, those of Tripolitania were modest, and played a relatively small part in the economy of the territory.
5. Neo-Punic and Bilingual Inscriptions
The Neo-Punic inscriptions of Tripolitania form a class by themselves. They have been the object of special study by Professor Giorgio Levi Della Vida, who has listed and published many of them and hopes eventually to prepare a definitive edition; but they cannot be completely disregarded in a collection of the contemporary classical texts. Not only do they form a necessary pendant to the classical series, representative of an important element in the population; but many of them are bilingual, with parallel Latin and Neo-Punic texts, and in three cases trilingual.
For ease of reference, therefore, and to ensure the representative character of the indices, a list is here appended of all published Neo-Punic inscriptions from the territory; and the relevant items from these inscriptions have been incorporated in the indices of Names, Emperors and their families, Religion, Geographica and Municipal Affairs. This list, together with brief notes on the forms of transliteration adopted, is based on information furnished by Professor Levi Della Vida [Not in 2009 editon].
In transliterating Neo-Punic names and words, and in listing them in the indices, the following rules have been observed:
a) In Neo-Punic script many (but not all) vowels are expressed by the letters (originally consonant) ’, ‘, y and w.
Generally speaking, these letters represent, respectively, o (also ö), a, i (ai) and u (au) to be pronounced as in Latin; and they have been preserved in transliteration, with the occasional exception of ī (ē) and ū, for y and w, respectively. Where vowels are not marked in the original script, they have been introduced in transliteration wherever there is good reason to assume that this represents, approximately at any rate, the original pronunciation; where no such reason exists, dubious vowels are represented by dots.
b) The consonants ḥ, ṣ, and ṭ represent letters that are distinct from h, s and t.
c) In genealogical series, ben means 'son of', bat 'daughter of'. A clear-cut distinction between surnames and indications of trade or profession is not in all cases possible. Doubtful cases have here been included.
d) In all cases where there is a known Latin equivalent, the Neo-Punic forms are indexed thereunder.
e) Neo-Punic entries are in italics.
The list that follows comprises all the published Neo-Punic inscriptions of Tripolitania. The serial numbers are those established by Gesenius (nos. 1-5 = 'Leptitana' 1-5, respectively, in his Scripturae linguaeque Phoeniciae monumenta etc.  213 ff.), and by Levi Della Vida (Series 'Tripolitana') in the following articles: Riv. Trip. (= Libya) III (1927) 91-116 (nos. 1-8 in summary form only, with previous bibliography and corrections to previous readings); Afr. Ital. VI (1935) 1-29; and Rend. Acc. Linc.8 IV (1949) 399-412. Modifications to published readings are here taken from Levi Della Vida's own, later, unpublished notes.
|Neo-Punic 1||Bilingual = 349a; Riv. Trip. III, 92-3 .|
|Neo-Punic 2||Riv. Trip. III, 93-4 .|
|Neo-Punic 3||Riv. Trip. III, 95 .|
|Neo-Punic 4, 5||Trilingual = 654, 655 = CIL VIII, 15, 16 ; Riv. Trip. III, 95 .|
|Neo-Punic 6||Riv. Trip. III, 95-6 . See previously Clermont-Ganneau, Recueil d'Archéologie orientale VIII, 86-114. An improved edition and translation by Levi Della Vida in PBSR XIX (1951) 65-68.|
|Neo-Punic 7||Bilingual = 246; Riv. Trip. III, 96-7. See previously Aurigemma, Notiz. Arch. II (1916) 391-3.|
|Neo-Punic 8||Riv. Trip. III, 97. See previously Cumont-Dussaud, Riv. Trip. II (1926) 158, 165-27.|
|Neo-Punic 9||Riv. Trip. III, 97-8.|
|Neo-Punic 10||Riv. Trip. III, 98. For [ben. . . ]k‘n, read sh.sh. [. . .]k ‘n.|
|Neo-Punic 11||Trilingual = 481; Riv. Trip. III, 98-9 . The published translation requires modification; in particular the word translated as muri is now known to be uncertain.|
|Neo-Punic 12||Riv. Trip. III, 99-105 . L.1, for ha-shufetị̄;m, read shūfeṭīm; the reading h.p.r.b. is certain, and cannot be translated 'the Rab'. L.2, read ha-k.n.d.rīm, probably an approximate rendering of quadrans. L.3, ṃhzīm corresponds to aediles (Rend. Acc. Linc.8 IV, 402 n. 1). L.5, the two first letters are certain. L.6, ṣ.d.sh.m.r is presumably the title of an officer, to be translated 'Assistant Inspector'.|
|Neo-Punic 13||Riv. Trip. III, 105-7; republished, with an improved translation, in Journal of Biblical Literature LXIII (1944) 4-5.|
|Neo-Punic 14||Riv. Trip. III, 107. The reading of the second word is uncertain.|
|Neo-Punic 15||Riv. Trip. III, 107-8 . The first word should read l‘yly‘n’ = Laelianus.|
|Neo-Punic 16||Riv. Trip. III, 108 . Now in Lepcis Museum.|
|Neo-Punic 17||Riv. Trip. III, 108-9 .|
|Neo-Punic 18||Riv. Trip. III, 110-111 .|
|Neo-Punic 19||Riv. Trip. III, 111.|
|Neo-Punic 20||Riv. Trip. III, 111 (for Sabratha, read Busetta); Afr. Ital. I (1927) 217.|
|Neo-Punic 21||Riv. Trip. III, 113 ; for text, see Afr. Ital. I (1927) 217.|
|Neo-Punic 22||Riv. Trip. III, 113 , three fragments from the Wadi el-Amud, SE of Mizda; texts unpublished.|
|Neo-Punic 23||Riv. Trip. III, 113-4 ; ostraka, texts unpublished.|
|(Neo-Punic 24)||Riv. Trip. III, 114 ; = 879. Not Neo-Punic.|
|(Neo-Punic 25)||Riv. Trip. III, 114 ; Afr. Ital. I (1927) 233. Not Neo-Punic.|
|(Neo-Punic 26)||Riv. Trip. III, 114 = 828. Not Neo-Punic.|
|Neo-Punic 27||Bilingual = 319; Afr. Ital. VI, 1-15, 107-9. L.1, for ad[dir azarīm] read, probably, ad[dir kōhanīm], 'the head of the priests' = pontifex maximus. L.2, Pylt or Pyln: comparison with the Latin text, . . .]one, suggests Pīēlon or Fīēlon.|
|Neo-Punic 28||Afr. Ital. VI, 15-27 . A recent survey of the building to which this inscription belonged suggests that the constituent blocks may require rearrangement, with a consequent rearrangement of the text.|
|Neo-Punic 29||Afr. Ital. VI, 27-9 .|
|Neo-Punic 30||Bilingual = 321; Afr. Ital. VI, 104-7.|
|Neo-Punic 31||Bilingual = 338; Rend. Acc. Linc.8 IV, 400-404 .|
|Neo-Punic 32||Bilingual = 318; Rend. Acc. Linc.8 IV, 404-6 .|
|Neo-Punic 33||Rend. Acc. Linc.8 IV, 407 .|
|Neo-Punic 34||Rend. Acc. Linc.8 IV, 407-410.|
|Neo-Punic 35||Rend. Acc. Linc.8 IV, 411-2.|
Two further bilingual texts await the allocation of a serial number. The one (= 294) is published in part by Levi Della Vida in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, LXXXVII (1942) 30. The other (= 305) is unpublished; it may include the name (not otherwise attested in Phoenician onomastics) Aṭarba‘ul or Iṭṭarba‘al.
6. Christian Inscriptions
The Christian inscriptions of Tripolitania require a few words of general introduction. They range from the fourth century to the end of the tenth. None is certainly earlier than Constantine; and the majority belong to the fifth and sixth centuries, a period of declining prosperity that is amply reflected in their poor quality and halting latinity.
Those of the interior are the more varied, and include several that were part of churches or of secular buildings (863, 874a, 875, 876). This must have been a predominantly Donatist region. It is surprising, therefore, to find that the dominant themes of Donatist epigraphy figure once only, in a group of texts from a fourth-century building in the Djebel, near Garian (863). The Catholic sympathies of the coastal cities are more clearly marked: the majority of the texts found in these are funerary, and their formulae repeatedly emphasize such Catholic concepts as pax and the remission of sin.3
With the exception of the group of tenth-century graves at En-Ngila (262), none of the texts is dated other than by indiction. It is, however, possible in many cases to establish an approximate chronology from the archaeological context; and this in turn permits certain useful generalizations:
a) The form of tomb.
The earliest recorded Christian texts come from the catacombs at Sabratha (194, 195, 216, 217, 228) and at Sirte (855), which are datable to the fourth century. These were succeded by open cemeteries, in which the graves were marked by flat slabs of stone, marble, or stuccoed sandstone, flush with, or barely raised above, the surrounding pavement. None of these is certainly earlier than 400; and the form was only gradually replaced by its successor. This was an upstanding structure, in a variety of rectangular, tapering, rounded or stepped forms, made of blocks of stone or concreted rubble, surfaced with plaster, and painted or lightly inscribed.4 This is the only form represented in the later cemeteries of Ain Zara (261) and En-Ngila (262). It is found perhaps as early as the fifth century (205); and it has remained in use in Tripolitania ever since. Inscribed gravestones of the preceding, flat type were in use, however, side by side with the later form, until at least the middle of the sixth century (842), and possibly later.
b) Use of the Chi-rho monogram and of the monogram cross.
The Constantinian, Chi-rho monogram, ⳩, with or without the letters α and ω, is found in a few early inscriptions in the catacombs at Sabratha (194, 195; also on otherwise uninscribed loculi) and at Sirte (855); on a gravestone at Oea (258); and in the Donatist building at el-Msufiin (863). It is not found in any of the inscribed texts from the open cemeteries, and was presumably obsolete in Tripolitania by the end of the fourth century or soon after. Its place is taken by the monogram cross, ⳨, with or without the letters α and ω. This and the plain cross (also used at times with the letters α and ω) are the common forms in those cemeteries at Sabratha and Lepcis that are prior to the Byzantine reconquest. With the exception of a small inscribed plaque from the Justinian church at Sabratha (192), none is certainly later than this date.
c) Letter forms.
The majority of the lettering is so debased that the evidential value of specific forms is often slight. An approximate terminus post quem is, however, afforded by such features as the introduction of uncial forms, or by the use of minuscule, and these are noted below, in the relevant sections. Moreover, with the substitution of plaster for stone or marble as a medium, general from the sixth century onwards, a certain standard of competence was re-established; and the later texts are in many respects more consistent than those of the fifth century. Throughout the period, however, a comparison between the letter-forms in contemporary use in the several cities reveals a regionalism as marked as at any time under the earlier Empire.5
In the first three sections, the Christian texts are grouped together at the end of the section; in the remainder they follow the geographical arrangement within the section. They are also listed in the Table of Contents: Text categories.
- See bibliography.
- See S. J. De Laet, 'Portorium', Brugge, 1949, 247 ff. and 363 ff.
- P. Monceaux, 'Histoire littéraire de l'Afrique chrétienne', IV (Paris, 1912) 478.
- Earlier pagan tombs of the same general form are found commonly in the cemeteries of Byzacena. e.g. at Thenae, 'Bull. Arch.' 1908, 22-58; 1910, 82-99; cf. ibid. 1905, 106-414; perhaps also in Tripolitania, e.g. 695, at Lepcis.
- Compare those from Sabratha with the table of letter-forms at Ain Zara (Aurigemma, 'Ain Zara', pl. V).