Roman Epigraphy at Caerleon
Among the most important tools of the archaeologist working in the classical world is the huge wealth of inscriptions that are one of the keys to unlocking the past. The Romans in particular were fond of the public display of their decrees and virtues on tombstones, building inscriptions, milestones and as idle doodles and graffiti. For the archaeologist and historian this egoism has been a boon, providing the foundation for historical accounts, and adding flesh and personal detail to archaeology and written history.
The soldiers of the Roman army were meticulous bureaucrats, but their stone inscriptions were formulaic and easy to read. The splendid collections of the Caerleon Museum hold the records of the Second Augustan Legion, a veteran unit raised by Rome's first Emperor Augustus. This will be an opportunity to learn to decipher these for yourself – and absolutely no previous knowledge of Latin is required! (although if you have some it can only be a bonus). Dr Andrew Fear will provide a solid practical introduction, unlocking the symbols and abbreviations used by the masons and their masters. There will be an opportunity to make a paper ‘squeeze’ of an inscription – a traditional method used by early archaeologists.
The collections in the Caerleon Museum include artefacts of all sorts from the Legionary Fortress, and there will be time to examine and discuss these, as well as take a guided walk of about an hour around the fortress remains (including baths, barracks and amphitheatre) to put the inscriptions in their general context (although exact findspots are often not known).
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Study Day -
Meet 10:00 for 10:15 start
10:00 Meet at the entrance to the National Roman Legion Museum
10.15 Introduction to Roman inscriptions, what they were for and how to read them and the codes used by the masons and the messages they were broadcasting
11.45 Practical session making a squeeze then take home the ‘squeeze’ of an inscription of the Second Legion Augusta at Caerleon.
14:00 Tour of the museum's gallery
15:00 Guided walk to see the Amphitheatre, Roman Barracks and finish at Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths.