Inscriptions from MA.Camb.HU.Sack

The collection of Greek and Latin inscriptions housed in the Sackler Museum at Harvard University comprises two distinct groups of objects: Greek texts on works of art owned by the Harvard University Art Museums and Latin texts illustrating private life and religion acquired, and in some cases still owned, by the Department of the Classics. Both groups have been enhanced by various acquisitions over the years, but each owes its essential character to a primary benefactor and source.

In 1905 and 1906 Clifford H. Moore, a Professor of Latin at Harvard, purchased in Rome thirty-one Latin inscriptions for the Department of the Classics. Of these almost half had been included by Chr. Huelsen in CIL VI among the tituli sepulcrales of Rome. Moore republished these, along with twenty-four unedited Latin texts (including five stones then recently donated to the department by Professor Minton Warren and a young Dr. Arthur Stanley Pease), in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 20 (1909) 1-14. This Classical Collection, which included as well a number of plaster casts and a sizeable assortment of instrumentum (mainly brickstamps) donated to the Department in 1905 by Dr. George Pfeiffer in memory of his wife, Rachael Hartwell, was housed for many years in a classroom in Sever Hall at Harvard College before being transferred at first, in the 1950s, to the basement of Widener Library, then subsequently, in the 1960s, to a storage corridor off the Smyth Classical Library in Widener, and finally, in the summer of 1988, to the Department of Ancient Art in the Sackler Museum, where the stones are kept today.

Fifty years after Moore published his small collection of Latin inscriptions from Rome, Harvard's epigraphic holdings were greatly augmented when the Fogg Museum in 1960 received by bequest from the estate of David M. Robinson about half of his extensive ancient Greek collection. His coins went to the American Numismatic Society and the rest of the collection was purchased by the University of Mississippi (see MS.Univ.UM.UM). The 410 objects that came to Harvard were exhibited from May to September of 1961 with a descriptive catalog, The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities(Cambridge, Mass. 1961).

In addition to these two main acquisitions and their original publications, eleven of Moore's inscriptions were newly edited in 1992 in the American Journal of Archaeology (96: 71-100), and individual pieces accruing to both collections over the years have been separately published. Two ostraca from Egypt with painted Greek inscriptions were edited by E. J. Goodspeed, AJP 25 (1904) 45-58 at nos. 11 and 15 (= Preisigke, Sammelbuch nos. 4362 and 4366). Mason Hammond in 1964 published three Latin inscriptions purchased by the Department of the Classics in 1961 for the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection of Roman antiquities, of which two are now on display in a glass case in the Smyth Classical Library (HSCP 68: 74-97). Three years later N. L. Hirschland and M. Hammond edited thirty-two stamped pottery fragments from Carthage (fourteen texts in Punic, eight in Greek, three in Latin and three unidentified), six Roman brickstamps, two stamped Greek loom weights and one stamped Greek amphora handle in the McDaniel Collection (HSCP 72 [1967] 369-82). Herbert Bloch elucidated the Augustan era epitaph of a doctor of Caecilia Metella, once part of the private collection of Henry Lanford Wilson of Johns Hopkins University (see MD.Balt.JHU) in HSCP 86 (1982) 141-50, and J. Bodel in AJA 96 (1992) 95-100 republished an opisthographic funerary relief from Liguria long believed to be lost and an unedited bipartite columbarium tablet from Rome. The inscribed sculpture at Harvard has recently been published by C. C. Vermeule and A. Brauer, Stone Sculptures: the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Museums (Cambridge, Mass. 1990).

In addition to eight moldmade terracotta lamps in the Robinson collection, the Classical Collection includes thirty-seven lamps with makers' stamps (not yet catalogued and therefore not included in the list below) and a full-scale plaster cast of the inscribed cippus found beneath the Lapis Niger in the Roman Forum--one of two or three in the United States (another, incomplete, is at Princeton University; a third, reported by E.H. Warmington, Remains of Old Latin IV [Cambridge, Mass. 1940] 245, at Johns Hopkins University, could not be verified. According to Warmington three similar casts can be found in England, at the British Museum, the Asmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Museum of Archaeology, Cambridge). At present Harvard's cast is stored in a corridor off the Smyth Library.

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