Inscriptions from MD.Balt.JHU

The Johns Hopkins University has one of the oldest and richest university collections of classical artifacts in the United States. Established in 1882 with the purchase of an extensive group of Egyptian antiquities collected by Colonel Mendes Israel Cohen, the collection received its first Graeco-Roman material (several clay lamps and Etruscan vases) by gift in 1884 from Arthur L. Frothingham, Jr., who went on in the following year to found the American Journal of Archaeology.

The epigraphic materials comprise some one hundred fifty Latin inscriptions, mainly epitaphs from Rome, which were acquired for the most part during the first decade of this century, when the large ancient necropolis outside the Aurelian Wall between the Porta Salaria and the Porta Pinciana was being unearthed in the course of development of that new region of the modern city. Most of the stones were purchased from antiquities dealers in Rome in 1906 and 1907 by Harry Langford Wilson, Professor of Roman Archaeology and Epigraphy at the university, who published his acquisitions between 1907 and 1914 in a series of articles in the American Journal of Philology, volumes 28 (1907) 450-58; 30 (1909) 61-71, 153-170; 31 (1910) 25-42, 251-64; 32 (1911) 166-87; 33 (1912) 168-85; and 35 (1914) 421-34 (nos. 122-140, on pages 427-34, were published posthumously by Ralph van Deman Magoffin).

In these same years Magoffin included a number of inscriptions now in the Hopkins collection in an article on unedited inscriptions from Latium examined by him in Rome in 1906 and 1907 (American Journal of Archaeology 14 [1910] 51-59), and W. Sherwood Fox published a group of lead curse tablets purchased by Wilson in Rome in 1908, of which five could be deciphered: The Johns Hopkins Tabellae Defixionum (AJP 33 Suppl., Baltimore 1912).

Six of the stones published by Wilson subsequently found their way to New York University, where they were studied and published by M. Peachin in 2014 (see NY.NY.NYU). Magoffin's article registers as well a few monuments in private hands in Baltimore and New York whose present whereabouts are unknown (nos. 4, 9, 11, 14). For a more complete history of the collection of antiquities at Johns Hopkins, see Ellen R. Williams, The Archaeological Collection of the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore 1984) 3-12.

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