Inscriptions from NY.NY.MMA

The Metropolitan Museum in New York has a large and distinguished collection of Greek and Roman sculpture and vases, bronzes, gems, jewelry, terracottas, and pottery, to name only the most prominent media. It has been assembled since the establishment of the museum in 1870, mostly by purchase, under the direction of successive heads of the Greek and Roman collections, Luigi Palma di Cesnola, Edward Robinson, Gisela M. A. Richter, Christine Alexander, Dietrich von Bothmer, and Carlos A. Picon. The inscriptions occur mostly on grave monuments, but the Roman collection includes a number of notable bronzes.

The Attic black figure vases have been published in the CVA and the red-figured ones by L. F. Hall and G. M. A. Richter, Red-figured Athenian Vases in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New Haven 1936). For a discussion and illustration of many of the signatures, see B. Cohen, "The Literate Potter," MetMusJ 26 (1991) 49-95. B. F. Cook, Inscribed Hadra Vases, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Papers no. 12 (1966), published an important group of incised and painted funerary vases from ancient cemeteries near Alexandria. The Greek and Roman material up to ca. 1953 was published by G. M. A. Richter in a series of volumes devoted to bronzes, sculpture, and gems. They are listed in the bibliography. The magical amulets, most inscribed with unintelligible Greek letters, have been published by Bonner in SMA (nos. 8, 35, 38, 42, 59-61, 71, 102, 152, 154, 167, 191, 197, 199, 211, 229, 231, 252, 262, 266, and 356).

The huge Cypriote holdings of Luigi Palma di Cesnola came early as a separate collection. Acquired by the Museum from Cesnola between 1874 and 1876, they include many inscriptions not only in Greek but in Cypriote and Phoenician, as well as a few in Latin. Cesnola himself published much of the collection in his Cyprus: Its Ancient Cities, Tombs, and Temples (London 1877) and oversaw the publication of an atlas in three folio volumes entitled A Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, vol. I (Boston 1885), vols II-III (New York 1894, 1903). J. L. Myres' handbook of the collection (see bibliography) includes extensive publication of the inscriptions on pages 299-326 and 521-557.

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