Giulia Baratta (Universita’ di Macerata, Italy) – “L’Epigrafia nei contesti archeologici”

Giulia Baratta focused her attention on the marginal role and inadequacy that affect inscriptions in museums and archaeological sites. An average tourist is resonably more attracted by a monument, in particular if iconographically rich, than an inscribed stone written in an almost incomprehensible language, it being Greek, Latin or any ancient language. In fact, a statue is more accessibly amusing than a few inscribed lines. A better attention on the epigraphic material is needed by the people in charge of the organisation of museums and archaeological sites in order to stimulate the interest of tourists and non-specialists. Some “shameful” examples of bad use and display of inscriptions are given (eg. Rome, Pompei, Lyon): inscriptions are abandoned in corners, put in a non accessible and legible area, without captions, comments and translations. Often inscriptions are a crucial part of monuments and their knowledge could offer a better understanding of the monuments themselves; however, all the interest of the tourist is focused on the monument since that is where the attention is driven.

Giulia Baratta’s paper is an observation on the unfair role given to inscriptions within archaeological areas. This point of view is shared by Antonio Santori (Universita’ di Milano, Italy) who gave a paper in the same session, “Museographia Epigraphica”, entitled “La comunicazione epigrafica e l’epigrafia comunicata”. His advice is to use a considerable number of inscriptions and create a separate area for them within a museum, a sort of “epigraphic gallery”. The inscriptions should be cleaned properly and lit with a good, possibly individual, light. In order to be more accessible to people, they should also have a quite detailed and clear caption with description and translation.

In general, both papers show big disappointment for the very limited role and scarce importance given to inscriptions in museums and archaeological sites.

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