Courtney Monahan

AAR Summer Program in Roman Epigraphy

Presentations on Inscriptions in the AAR Cortile
Presentations on Inscriptions in the AAR Cortile

Rome, Italy: Summer, 2016

Thanks to a generous grant from the Teasley Family Antiquities Fund, I was able to spend my summer sharpening necessary skills at the American Academy in Rome’s summer program in Latin Epigraphy under the direction of John Bodel (Brown University), as well as beginning research on my dissertation in both Italy and Spain. For ten days, our small, but eager group of aspiring epigraphists learned how to read, interpret, and publish Latin inscriptions. Not only did we have access to the library and resources at the American Academy, we also spent most of our time on site, working with inscriptions in situ (Ostia, Isola Sacra, monuments in Rome) and in curated exhibits (the Capitoline Museum, the Baths of Diocletian).

The ability to work with inscriptions up close rather than being confined to printed editions and photographs was a huge advantage to learning about how inscriptions can be used not only for the text that they record, but also for their artistic program and visual impact. Since the principle of autopsy is well established in the field of epigraphy, it was particularly enlightening to learn how to assess different kinds of damage, examine the traces of worn letters up close, and study the associated decoration or sculpture in the round. I intend to use epigraphic sources heavily in my dissertation, so getting the chance to practice these skills and learn about the available resources was especially useful as I begin work on this project.

One of the most valuable aspects of the course was our introduction to digital publication and the recent initiatives (both American and European) to digitally publish inscriptions in a way that captures as much information as possible. Although weather conditions prevented Scott DiGiulio (Mississippi State University) from joining us in person, through the magic of Skype, he was still able to guide us through the process of creating our own digital editions using EpiDoc conventions. Through hard work and a lot of trial and error, we were able to create digital editions of inscriptions at the Academy, which captured not only our encoded text, but images of the inscription, and analysis of the materiality of the objects.

Finally, the grant was also able to help me begin my dissertation research by allowing me to visit museums and archaeological sites in Barcelona and Tarragona. I plan to examine the public visibility of Roman women in the cities of Hispania Tarraconensis, and visiting these sites and personally examining the materials pertinent to my dissertation is essential to the project’s success. In particular, my visit to Tarragona (ancient Tarraco) allowed me to contextualize my reading and long-distance research within the city itself and to see what remains of the ancient city. I had the opportunity to visit the amphitheater, the provincial forum, and walk along Scipio’s walls from the Second Punic War, among other sites. The richness and beauty of the city and the wealth of material that it houses was certainly inspiring as I move towards completing my prospectus this fall.