Navigation – Plan du site
Part 4. Object biographies

Crossing boundaries: The inscribed votives of Southeast Italy

Franchir les frontières : les ex voto inscrits du sud-est de l’Italie
Kathryn Lomas
p. 311-329

Résumés

Les sanctuaires du sud-est de l’Italie nous ont laissé de nombreux ex voto, principalement des petits articles de peu de valeur intrinsèque. Cependant, certains d’entre eux comprennent des inscriptions même si savoir lire et écrire était le privilège de l’élite dans l’Italie pré-romaine. Ce papier explore le sens du geste de graver des inscriptions sur des objets votifs et les implications que prennent pour nous le rôle de l’écriture dans les rituels ainsi que la valeur et la signification des objets munis de ces inscriptions.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

1. Introduction

  • 1 Inevitably, there is considerable uncertainty over whether more lavish votives were offered but fai (...)
  • 2 All dates hereafter are BCE unless otherwise noted.
  • 3 Whitehouse, Wilkins, 1989.

1The sanctuaries of southeast Italy are rich in votive deposits, which included a large number of everyday items of low value, such as pottery vessels and loom weights. Some items, such as figurines or laminae—thin plaques (mostly of bronze) and often embossed with figures or motifs—may have been specific to particular cults manufactured specially for ritual purposes, but many other items offered as votives were probably made for general use. Typically, votive deposits consist of local and imported Greek pot sherds and other small portable items such as loom weights, all of which are of little intrinsic value.1 However, there are some important questions to be addressed about the nature of votive practices and dedications in this region, and what the modest nature of many of the votive objects reveals about the socio-economic status and cultural preferences of the dedicators. A further level of complexity is added by the fact that some ritual sites—for instance, Monte Papalucio, near Oria, and the cave sanctuaries of Grotta della Poesia and Grotta Porcinara—were used by both the local Italian population and various groups of outsiders, principally Greeks in the 6th-3rd centuries BCE, and Romans or Italians from other areas of Italy from the 2nd century onwards.2 Sanctuaries seem, therefore, to have had a role as points of contact between different cultural and ethnic groups, and possibly as emporia at which goods could be exchanged.3

  • 4 Stoddart, Whitley 1988; Cornell 1991; Bagnasco Gianni 1996.

2The main focus of this paper is not the votive record in general, but the relatively small number of votives that were inscribed (figure 1). These comprise only a very small minority of votive objects, but present some interesting questions about both ritual behaviour and literacy in the region. The significance and social context of early literacy in Italy has been a matter of some controversy. Some scholars have argued strongly that, in the Archaic period, literacy was an elite technology used largely to promote and reinforce elite identities and social competition. Others have suggested that it was more widespread, and that the fact that the production of writing was in the hands of non-elite individuals—scribes or artisans, such as potters and metal smiths—demonstrates that a wider cross-section of society had access to literacy.4 Although it is likely that much of the actual practice of reading and writing—and especially writing on durable objects such as stone or metal, which may involve some technical skill—was done by people of lower social status, it is also likely that the elite, as commissioners of inscriptions, retained control, at least in the Archaic period, of what was written and which objects were inscribed. There is, therefore, a strong possibility that, in the 6th and 5th centuries, literacy was associated with elite status, yet almost all the inscriptions occur on items of relatively low value. This raises the question of what, if any, additional value the writing added to the object, and whether this changed the significance or perceived power of the votive. We also need to consider whether inscriptions are associated with particular cults or sanctuaries and, if so, why that might be the case. There are also many other issues to consider: what does writing on an object add to its cultural biography? Are the inscriptions specific to a particular type of object or a particular cult? Does the role of writing change over time, given that the data spans a period between the late 6th/early 5th centuries to the 2nd century? In particular, Southeast Italy, and especially the Salento, underwent major ethnic, cultural and political changes during this period, and the impact of these cultural and ethnic factors on literacy and the use of writing in a votive context may be important. This paper will explore the significance of these inscribed votives from the 6th-2nd centuries, and what they can tell us about votive and ritual practices in areas of cultural contact between Greeks and the indigenous Italian populations.

  • 5 On the problems of identifying and recording votive deposits, see Osborne, 2004.

3A number of methodological problems complicate the study of inscribed votives from the Salento. Many items that may have been votive offerings or dedications lack a securely established archaeological context. Some are surface finds unearthed by field surveys, which lack a stratigraphic context. Many others are items found by private collectors rather than via archaeological excavation or survey, or which have appeared on the antiquities market via illegal excavations. A significant number of inscriptions from the region have also been lost and are known only from drawings and notes made by antiquarians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. There is, therefore, a considerable problem in establishing the context of some inscriptions.5

4The votive function of some of these items without context, however, can be established by the nature of their inscriptions, particularly when they include the name of a deity. A number of inscribed objects may well be votives but cannot be definitively identified as such because they lack a documented votive or ritual context. For instance, a number of inscribed loom weights and inscribed potsherds have been found in surface scatters that give no indication as to whether they represent a votive deposit, disinterred and scattered grave goods, or domestic items from an ancient settlement. The focus of this chapter, therefore, is on those items where there is strong evidence for votive intention, either because of their archaeological context or because of the nature of the inscription.

2. Writing and literacy in Puglia

  • 6 Many of the inscriptions are dated on the basis of letter forms rather than archaeological context (...)
  • 7 Collected in Parlangèli, 1960; Santoro, 1982; Santoro, 1984. The most recent edition is De Simone, (...)
  • 8 See De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, p. 5-7, in which many of the later inscriptions, previously though (...)

5The earliest evidence of writing in the local language in Puglia, conventionally termed Messapic, appears in 6th century.6 The high point of writing on durable materials in the local language and script is the 4th and 3rd centuries, a period to which around 70% of the total number of inscriptions can be dated. The corpus of writing from the region comprises c. 640 inscriptions in Messapic, together with a significant number of others in Greek but from local contexts or apparently written by non-Greeks, and yet others whose language cannot be securely identified.7 The end of the tradition of inscribing in Messapic is debatable, but it is likely to have continued until the 2nd century. Scholars now believe the numbers of late inscriptions to be small.8

  • 9 De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, p. 5-6

6The alphabet has some distinctive local characters but is derived from (and closely based on) the Greek alphabet, drawing elements of letter forms from a number of Archaic Greek scripts (figure 2). It shares many features with the Laconian-Tarentine script used at Taras but there are also some significant differences. Although Tarentine influence on letter forms appears to be strong, the earliest phases of the Messapic alphabet are not solely based on this, but show similarities to other Archaic Greek scripts. The influence of the Tarentine alphabet becomes stronger from the late 5th century onwards, as literacy becomes more securely established.9

  • 10 IM 30.111 (Santoro 1982, p. 151-53); Marchesini, 1999, p. 181-203.
  • 11 Marchesini, 1999, p. 181-203.
  • 12 There are a number of cippi with longer inscriptions, which may be legal or administrative in natur (...)

7The earliest inscriptions, those of the 6th and 5th century, are limited largely to the ritual and public sphere, including votives and some items that may have had significance to the community, such as a possible boundary marker from Cavallino.10 Many of these early inscriptions are on pottery, including a mixture of local wares and imported Greek pottery, and are found primarily in ritual contexts.11 Geographically, these are limited to a relatively small number of sites in the southern part of the Salento, principally Oria, Rudiae, Porto Cesareo, Nardò, Vaste, Leuca, Cavallino, Soleto and Vereto (figure 1). The tradition of epigraphy in the local script and language became more firmly established and more geographically widespread by the end of the 5th century, and the number of inscriptions found increased dramatically in the late 4th-3rd centuries. This process was accompanied by changes in the nature and function of inscriptions. From the 4th century onwards, there are many fewer inscriptions on small objects and a large majority of inscriptions are on large stone objects. Most of these take the form of funerary inscriptions, although there is also a number of possible public or civic inscriptions.12 Some stone inscriptions, including cippi, stelae, altars, or parts of buildings, may have been from religious contexts, but inscribed portable votives, in contrast, are much fewer in number (figure 3). Nevertheless, there is an interesting and potentially significant pattern to their distribution (figure 1).

3. Cults, sanctuaries and settlements

  • 13 For instance at Monte Papalucio, near Oria (Lamboley, 1996, p. 128-29), S. Maria Agnano, at Ostuni (...)
  • 14 These came in many forms, some plain and others decorated with incised patterns, but few had inscri (...)
  • 15 Few remains survive, but the architectural terracottas found on some sites suggest the presence of (...)
  • 16 Coppola, 1981; Denoyelle, Dewailly, 2004; Pagliara, 1987, p. 297; Guglielmino, 2006.
  • 17 Lombardo, 1981, p. 14-18; Lamboley, 1996, p. 444-48, 448-50. Lombardo argues that the development o (...)

8Many ritual sites in Puglia are associated with caves—either natural or artificially constructed—although most show considerable modification. Many sanctuaries consisted of a walled enclosure containing altars, with one or more artificially constructed terraces on which ritual activity took place.13 Stone cippi, usually not inscribed, are frequently found within sanctuary precincts.14 Their function is unclear, but they may have been used to support additional ritual objects such as statues, or to act as focal points for rituals or votive offerings. It is unclear how many sanctuaries had any monumental structures in the 6th-4th centuries, but by the 3rd century, buildings of possible ritual function appear to have become more common, possibly as a result of Greek and/or Roman influence on concepts of urbanisation.15 Some of the sanctuaries located in caves show a high degree of continuity from the Bronze Age or earlier. S. Maria d’Agnano, for instance, has evidence of usage from the Neolithic onwards, and Bronze Age finds have been recovered from both Grotta Porcinara and Grotta della Poesia.16 Many sanctuaries are located at points of cultural or political contact. Grotta Porcinara and Grotta della Poesia both occupy coastal locations and may have been frequented by people passing along the coast. Monte Papalucio was a suburban sanctuary located just outside Oria, and was also situated on a cultural and political boundary.17

9Many cult places have produced no inscriptions, or very few, but some have particular concentrations of inscriptions: the sacred caves at Monte Papalucio, at Oria, Grotta Porcinara near Vereto, the Grotta della Poesia, at Rocavecchia, and S. Maria d’Agnano, near Ostuni. Three of these—Monte Papalucio, Grotta Porcinara, and Grotta della Poesia—appear to have been used by both Greek and indigenous populations and have produced votives inscribed in Greek as well as Messapic, as well as a number whose language cannot be securely determined. There seems to be a connection, therefore, between the presence of inscribed votives, especially those of early date, and contexts of contact between different groups.

4. Votives and their contexts

  • 18 The interiors of the Grotta Porcinara and Grotta della Poesia are heavily covered with rock-cut ins (...)
  • 19 IM 26.16 (Parlangèli, 1960, p. 219).
  • 20 IM 7.115 (Parlangèli, 1960, p. 87).
  • 21 The Messapic pantheon included a large number of deities clearly associated with, or derived from, (...)

10The inscribed votives from Puglia fall into two broad categories: stone objects and small portable objects. There are currently around 160 inscriptions in the local Messapic language from known votive/ritual contexts in Puglia, including significant numbers of rock-cut inscriptions. At least 22 of these rock-cut texts have been found on the inner walls of caves used for ritual purposes, written in Messapic along with various other languages. These form a palimpsest on the cave walls and only a small portion of them have been studied. Many more may remain to be deciphered.18 Inscriptions are also found on stone items, such as stelae and cippi, which may have been used as altars or as bases to display votives. Only 75 inscriptions are written on small portable objects from votive deposits. Two of these are inscribed laminae, both of precious metal and both were clearly manufactured specifically as votives. One, a small gold tablet of unknown date with a probable Orphic inscription, is said to have been found in a Messapic tomb in the early 20th century, but little is known of its context.19 The other, a fragmentary bronze tablet with a dedication to the Messapic goddess Aprodita, dating to the 3rd century, was found at the sanctuary at Monte Vicoli near Ceglie Messapico.20 Other votives and inscriptions from the same site confirm that this was a sanctuary dedicated to Aprodita, a deity whose name clearly derived from the Greek Aphrodite but was widely found in the Salento in the context of Messapian cults.21

11The remaining inscriptions are on items of low intrinsic value, which appear to be items of everyday use rather than objects that were specifically votive or ritual in function. None of these inscribed votives were obviously purpose-made or cult-specific items such as figurines or the bronze laminae described above, although they do occur in deposits that include large numbers of non-inscribed votives clearly made specifically for deposition, for example, cult-specific figurines or miniature pottery vessels. The majority of inscribed votives are pottery vessels, including local and imported Greek wares, which often survive in only a fragmentary form. A small number of inscribed loom weights may be votives, but most lack a conclusive votive context. The votive pottery and loom weights range in date from the late 6th to the 3rd centuries, but are clustered in the early part of this period (6th-5th centuries)—in contrast to votive or ritual inscriptions on stone, which tend to be 4th century or later. Unfortunately a significant number of objects that appear to have votive inscriptions are surface finds without stratigraphy or associated artefacts. Others are known from private collections, with few secure records of provenance or context. However, there are four significant concentrations of inscribed votives that come from excavated sanctuary contexts: S. Maria d’Anglona (Ostuni), Monte Papalucio (Oria), Grotta Porcinara (Leuca), and Grotta della Poesia (Rocavecchia).

  • 22 Coppola, 1981, p. 176-77; Cinquepalmi, 1987; Lamboley, 1996, p. 38; Dewailly, Denoyelle, 2004, p. 6 (...)
  • 23 Coppola, 1981, p. 183-86.
  • 24 Coppola, 1981. p. 187-88; Cinquepalmi, 1987; Dewailly, Denoyelle, 2004, p. 664-66.
  • 25 De Simone, 1982.

12S. Maria d’Agnano, in the territory of Ostuni, is a cave sanctuary that contains evidence of occupation and intermittent ritual activity from the Neolithic onwards.22 Like many other cave sanctuaries, the main focus of ritual activity was in front of, rather than within, the cave. The site was enclosed by a rough stone wall, and an artificial terrace was constructed outside the cave. Much of the ritual activity, which dates from the 6th century onwards, took place on this terrace. The most intensive period of usage was in the 6th century and 4th-3rd centuries. The votives, many of which were found inside the cave, consist mainly of pottery, including local impasto, local painted wares such as Iapygian Geometric, and Greek black glaze pottery.23 Almost all finds are fragmentary, but types of vessels include bowls and kraters of local manufacture, and plates or dishes and skyphoi of Greek manufacture, including both Corinthian and Attic pottery. The votives also included small terracotta protomes depicting a female figure wearing a polos, along with fibulae, fragments of terracotta pinakes, and some small bronze votives.24 The deposits therefore suggest a mixture of purpose-made and cult-specific votives (the protomes) and more generic dedications of pottery. The female figurines suggest that the sanctuary was dedicated to a female deity, and it has been identified as a possible cult of Demeter, partly on the basis of a 5th century terracotta bust of Demeter found there. Demeter (Damatra or Damatira as she is known in Messapic) is widely found in the region, and a considerable number of votives dedicated to her, and priests or priestesses of her cult, are known from Messapic inscriptions.25

  • 26 D’Andria, 1979, p. 27-27; D’Andria, 1990, p. 239-40; Lamboley, 1996, p. 128-29.
  • 27 D’Andria, 1990, p. 274-78.
  • 28 D’Andria, 1990, p. 239-306.

13The sanctuary of Monte Papalucio is also an extramural sanctuary, situated just to the east of the major Messapic settlement of Oria. Like S. Maria d’Agnano, it was constructed around a sacred cave. The main area of the sanctuary consisted of two terraces cut into a hillside, separated by a retaining wall and constructed on two different levels. Most of the ritual activity took place on these terraces, and votives deposits were found on both upper and lower levels. There were two main phases of activity. Votives found on the upper terrace date principally to the 6th-early 5th centuries, but the focus of activity seems to have moved to the lower terrace in the 4th-early 3rd centuries. Tiles and fragments of stonework found on the lower terrace suggest that there many have been cult buildings in this area.26 The site is dedicated to a female deity and has been associated with a cult of Demeter and possibly Persephone, but it is possible that Aprodita/Aphrodite was also worshipped there. The votive deposits contained large numbers of items that were clearly made specifically for this purpose (none of them inscribed), as well as everyday objects, some of which do carry inscriptions. Votives included large numbers of terracotta figurines of an enthroned goddess, and pottery vessels, especially hydriai. The pottery occurs in both full size and miniature form. A smaller number of more costly items, including fibulae, jewellery and bronze lamina embossed with a female figure, have also been found.27 There is also copious evidence of food offerings, mainly burnt offerings of cakes and biscuits. A votive deposit on the lower terrace consisted of a large number of oil lamps.28

14The final two sanctuaries from which there are inscribed votives are both very different in character. Like S. Maria D’Agnano and Monte Papalucio, which were located inland and close to settlements, both Grotta Porcinara, near Leuca, and Grotta della Poesia, at Rocavecchia, are coastal sites which were reached mainly by sea, and may have been accessible only by boat in antiquity. Both seem to have been used by Greeks, and later by Romans, as well as the local population, and their coastal location suggests that they may have functioned as emporia, or been used as stopping points by people crossing the Adriatic. As the names suggest, both are cave sites, and both have long histories of ritual activity.

  • 29 Pagliara, 1978a, p. 68-77.
  • 30 Pagliara, 1978a, p. 58-68, 77-80; Lamboley, 1996, p. 266-67.
  • 31 Pagliara, 1973; Pagliara, 1978c.
  • 32 Rouveret, 1978, p. 91-106; Pagliara, 1978b; Lamboley, 1996, p. 267-68.
  • 33 The identity of the deity is discussed further below, but it appears in both Greek and Messapic ins (...)

15Grotta Porcinara was in use from the 8th century BCE-2nd century CE (figure 4). As elsewhere, the earliest ritual activity took place outside the cave itself. The very earliest deposits are associated with a circular eschara constructed in front of the cave, which contained votives of the 8th-7th centuries.29 This was replaced in the 6th century by a circular wall and an access staircase leading down to the cave itself, but the votives and evidence of sacrifices continue to be located on the terrace outside the cave. From the 4th century, there was a change of emphasis, with votives and traces of ritual activity found inside the cave.30 The interior of the cave itself was divided into 3 chambers, and the walls were covered with votive inscriptions, although these are mainly of Roman date.31 Votive deposits consisted largely of pottery, including local wares, Italiote pottery, and a wide variety of items imported from various parts of Greece. Non-ceramic votives, including fibulae and terracotta figurines, are relatively few in number. There was a predominance of local pottery, which accounted for around 67% of the total number of votive items recovered. Greek pottery was also well represented. Much of it (around 28% of the total amount of pottery found) was of south Italian manufacture, while only 5% of the pottery votives consisted of items imported from other areas of the Greek world.32 The pottery is mostly fragmentary and derived from full-sized vessels, including various forms of drinking cups, as well as amphorae and kraters, but there are also a small number of miniature pottery votives. The deity worshipped at the sanctuary appears to have been a local deity, Batas, who was assimilated to a cult of Zeus.33

  • 34 Pagliara, 1987; Guglielmino, 2006; De Simone, 1988.

16Grotta della Poesia, at Rocavecchia, shares many similarities with Grotta Porcinara. It was in use from a similar date and continued to be an important cult centre until well into the Roman Empire. Like Grotta Porcinara, there are two distinct phases of activity—an early phase that involved sacrifices and votive offerings on the terrace outside the cave, and a later phase, dating from the 4th century, from which ritual activity took place inside the cave. The portable votives are of a similar type to those from Grotta Porcinara, but the main significance of the cave lies in the large number of rock-cut votive inscriptions, written in Messapic and Latin, incised into the walls of the cave (figure 5).34

  • 35 Lombardo, 1981, p. 14-18; Lamboley, 1996, p. 444-50; Whitehouse, Wilkins 1989.

17In each these four cases, the inscribed votive objects form only a very small proportion of the whole assemblages, and come from substantial deposits of votive material, including pottery vessels (both full-sized and miniature), lamps, and small figurines. In other words, they are very much in line with other votives from their respective sites, and there is no clear distinction in terms of class or quality between inscribed and non-inscribed votives. It may be significant, however, that the largest concentrations of inscriptions on portable objects date to the earlier 6th-5th century phases of these sanctuaries, and that they occur in sanctuaries where there is evidence that the cult places were fairly ‘international’ in character. All of these sanctuaries have produced significant quantities of votives of Greek manufacture, and two (Grotta Porcinara and Monte Papalucio) have also produced Greek votive inscriptions. This suggests that they were, at least, centres used by people with economic and cultural contacts outside the region. The fact that the two coastal sanctuaries were located on shipping routes, and the two inland sanctuaries were on political and cultural boundaries, has led some scholars to suggest, very plausibly, that they were cult centres for Greeks as well as Italians, and that they may have acted as emporia at which different populations could meet and exchange goods and ideas.35

5. Votive Inscriptions

  • 36 IM 27.13 (Santoro, 1982, p. 125; Pagliara, 1978b, p. 187-89) and IM 27.116 (Santoro, 1982, p. 72; P (...)
  • 37 IM 27.115 (Santoro, 1982, p. 131; Pagliara, 1978b, p. 187-89); IM 4.100 (Santoro, 1989-1990, p. 425 (...)
  • 38 The identification of the script is also problematic, as the Messapic script is closely based on th (...)
  • 39 A distinctive subset of Messapic language and script, often termed Apulian, developed in the 4th ce (...)
  • 40 Pagliara, 1973; Pagliara, 1978b; Pagliara, 1978c, p. 195-207; Pagliara, 1979, p. 68-77.

18Given the fragmentary nature of many of the small votives, it is perhaps not surprising that most of the inscriptions are too damaged to permit any serious linguistic analysis. On the basis of comparison with undamaged examples, however, it seems safe to say that most were very short. Very few contain more than a single name, and many are restricted to abbreviations, or single letters. In some of the fragmentary cases, there is reason to believe that the surviving portion represents all or most of the inscription, rather than a fragment of a significantly longer text. The inscriptions [---]idde and [---]atia[št]e, found on several inscribed potsherds from Grotta Porcinara, both seem to be ends of words, as there is blank space following both of these inscriptions.36 Similarly, idi, trar, and bati are probably complete single words as, in these cases, the inscribed area of the vessel survives intact.37 The brevity or fragmentary nature of some inscriptions also creates difficulties in establishing their linguistic identity. In some cases, enough of the inscription survives to allow for a secure identification of the language in which it is written, but in many cases it is impossible to establish on the basis of one or two letters whether the inscription is written in Messapic or Greek.38 Where the language can be established, most appear to be written in the local language, usually termed Messapic, or one of its variants, and in the local alphabet.39 A significant minority from some sites, notably Monte Papalucio (Oria), Grotta Porcinara (Vereto), and Grotta della Poesia (Rocavecchia) were written in Greek. Latin is used for some of the later cave inscriptions from both Grotta Porcinara and Grotta della Poesia.40

  • 41 The so-called iscrizioni parlanti which take the form ‘I belong to ....’ are very common in Etruria (...)
  • 42 IM 0.472 (Santoro, 1989-1990). The ending ‘-aihi’ is very common in Messapic inscriptions and is fa (...)
  • 43 IM 9.121; Santoro, 1982, p. 55-56.
  • 44 IM 0.472; Santoro, 1982, p. 200-201.

19As far as we can tell, almost all the inscriptions consist of the names of the deities to whom the dedication was made, or the personal name of the dedicator, with a heavy emphasis on the former. Very few directly indicate ownership by using the genitive ending ‘-aihi’, and fewer still are first-person ‘speaking inscriptions’ of the type commonly found in other areas of Italy.41 An inscribed pottery fragment from Ostuni is almost certainly a possessive inscription. The inscription reads [---]tharnaihi no (‘I am of [---]tharna(s)’), in which the genitive -aihi shows that this is almost certainly the name of the owner.42 The suffix -no is unclear, but it has been suggested that it may be a first-person verb. A fragment from a vessel of local manufacture from Monte Papalucio is inscribed [d]azzi[m--],43 which is clearly a personal name, Dazos or Dazimos. As it turns out, this was the most common male name from the region. Another inscription on local pottery from Grotta Porcinara, which reads Ainas, may also be a personal name.44

  • 45 Pagliara, 1978, p. 177-88; Frisone, 2007. Batas may have been the Messapic name of the god, who als (...)
  • 46 Porto Cesareo: IM 29. 11 (Santoro, 1982, p. 137-38); Ruffano: IM 32.11 (Santoro, 1982, p. 159-60); (...)
  • 47 D’Andria, 1990, p. 273, no. 128; De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, MLM 42 Ur. This is highly fragmentary (...)
  • 48 Stoddart, Whitley 1988.

20Most of the other inscriptions on portable votives that can be read are deity names, epithets, or possible abbreviations of them. For instance, from Grotta Porcinara there are several examples of Idde, Batas, and Atiaxte, or fragments of these, which are believed to be names or epithets of the god worshipped there. Several Greek inscriptions from the site are dedications to Zeus Batios.45 Other deity names known from inscriptions on small votives include the name ‘Thana’, found on an inscribed potsherd from Porto Cesareo. Fragments with a possible abbreviation of the same name (Tha) have been found at Ruffano and at S. Maria d’Agnano,46 and a fragment of votive pottery with a dipinto honouring Aprodita has been found at Oria.47 It must be acknowledged that a significant number of items are too damaged to interpret with any degree of certainty, but where we can make a clear distinction between the name of the giver and the name of the recipient, most inscriptions seem to name the deity rather than the donor. This is in marked contrast to votive practices elsewhere in Italy, where the emphasis is on the personal name of the person making the dedication.48

  • 49 Santoro, 1988; Frisone, 2007.

21Another notable feature of votive inscriptions is that many of them name deities with a distinctly Hellenised aspect. This is, in itself, not unusual. The corpus of known deities from the region includes many whose names are clearly adapted from those of Greek deities. Cults of Damat(i)ra (Demeter), are especially numerous, but other examples include Aprodita (Aphrodite), Venas (possibly Venus, although this is problematic), Artamas (Artemis), Athana (Athena) and possibly several different cults of Zeus (Zis).49 Whether this indicates adoption of Greek cults or whether these are Greek names adapted to local Messapic deities is a problematic question. Certainly, the cult places and cult practices of Southeast Italy seem very different from those of the Greek world, something that suggests contact and adaptation of cultural influences and deity names rather than an extensive Hellenisation of local cults and cult practices.

  • 50 Clearchus fr. 48 ap. Athenaeus 12.522D-F; Pagliara, 1978, p. 177-88; Frisone, 2007; IM 0.323 (Santo (...)

22Grotta Porcinara may provide evidence for religious contact in action, as it offers evidence for the interaction of Greek and non-Greek cults and worshippers. The corpus of inscribed potsherds includes a number of sherds inscribed ]idde[, which has been identified as a Messapic deity name or epithet. Another name or epithet that occurs there is Batas, likewise also probably the name of a deity. Other pottery inscriptions, dedications written in Greek to Zeus Batios, suggest a possible syncretism between a Greek cult of Zeus and a Messapic deity, Batas. It has been suggested that references in Greek sources to a cult of Zeus Kataibates may relate to the cult of Zeus and Batas. The Latin inscriptions on the inside of the cave name the deity as Jupiter Batius.50

  • 51 De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, MLM 3 Ro-24 Ro.
  • 52 Another possible dedication to Taotor has been found at Vaste (IM 22.19: Parlangèli, 1960, p. 183) (...)
  • 53 Votives: Lamboley, 1996, p. 191-96; inscriptions: Pagliara, 1987, p. 317-27.

23There is also evidence for interaction between Greek and non-Greek cults at the Grotta della Poesia. This sanctuary was dedicated to a Messapic deity—probably male—called Taotor, whose cult appears to have been prominent in the region.51 Unlike Batas, there is no evidence of any attempt to identify him with a Greek cult or deity.52 The sanctuary was popular with worshippers from a wide area, despite the very Messapic nature of the cult. The votive objects and the later rock-cut inscriptions demonstrate that it was used by a significant number of people from outside the region. The votives include Greek as well as local pottery and the inscriptions—in this case mainly incised on the cave walls rather than the portable votives—include dedications in both Apulian and Latin as well as numerous non-alphabetic symbols.53 The sanctuary was clearly an important one, and attracted worshippers from beyond the region despite the difficulties of access (it may have only been accessible by boat in antiquity).

  • 54 Statue of Zeus: D’Andria, Dell’Aglio, 2002. Votives of bronze or precious metal are less likely to (...)

24A major problem in evaluating the significance of votives in this region is that we have very little evidence for the nature of Messapic cult practices. Many sanctuary sites have copious evidence for animal sacrifice and burnt offerings on altars. Several of the inscriptions from Grotta della Poesia, both in Messapic and in Latin, corroborate this. Many appear to be written as records of promises to give perishable—and often quite costly—offerings, such as amphorae of wine or mulsum (a mixture of wine and honey), or sacrificial animals. We can therefore infer that both libation and animal sacrifice were an important parts of ritual practice. The prominence of stelae in sanctuaries suggests that they may also have had ritual significance. The offering of votive objects to the gods was clearly practiced, but how and why this was done is unknown. The survival of votive material in sanctuary areas demonstrates clearly that both cult-specific and purpose-made votives, as well as more generic items such as pottery, were offered. Although most of the surviving evidence is of low-value pottery or terracotta items, higher-value objects are occasionally found, such as a bronze statue of Zeus found near Ugento and the bronze laminae from Oria.54 These examples demonstrate that more lavish votives were offered but failed to survive. We have no way of knowing, however, what the proportion of high-value to low-value votives might have been.

  • 55 Cf. Renfrew, 1994, p. 49-53 on the possible motivations for deposition of votives, and Van Straten, (...)
  • 56 On the motivations for burial of votives, see Renfew, Bahn, 1991, p. 360; Garfinkel, 1994, p. 160-6 (...)

25It is likely but unclear whether votives were displayed and then periodically ritually buried to clear space for new offerings, as seems to have been the case in many other areas of the Mediterranean.55 Given that many of the pottery and terracotta items are broken, it is possible that this occurred ritually, either as part of the process of offering, or as a ritual ‘killing’ of the object as part of the process of disposal or deposition.56

6. Prestige and non-prestige: writing in a local context

  • 57 Cf. also Pedley, 2005, p. 113-14 on the role of cult appropriateness rather than the status of the (...)

26The role of writing in the process of votive deposition is an interesting one, because the choice of objects for inscription and the value added by the inscription is open to a number of interpretations. Inscribed votives do not differ from non-inscribed objects, neither in the nature nor in the quality of object. Most inscriptions are on portable objects of low intrinsic value and on generic objects that could be (and may have been) in everyday use before being offered as votives. No inscriptions have been found on objects that were probably made specifically as votives, such as miniature pottery or cult-specific images or figurines. Superficially, this seems to suggest that many of these items were low-value offerings, and therefore possibly offered by dedicators of low status or limited economic means. However, the presence of inscriptions on even a small number of objects raises important questions about this assumption.57

  • 58 Stoddart, Whitley, 1988; for an alternative view, see Cornell, 1991.

27In societies such as that of ancient Puglia, in which levels of literacy are likely to have been low, at least in the early history of literacy, writing is a prestige technology, closely associated with the social and political elite. The actual practice of literacy may have been in the hands of non-elite groups such as scribes and (particularly for inscriptions on durable objects) artisans such as potters and metal workers, but the selection and commissioning of a written text is likely to have been an elite prerogative.58 This restriction to specific social groups is likely to have been particularly true in the 6th-5th centuries, when writing was a fairly recent innovation. Literacy also appears to have been restricted to a small number of mainly ritual spheres, with a strong emphasis on elite funerary commemoration. In other words, the very presence of writing is likely to have signalled a level of prestige and importance. This raises some interesting questions about: the role of writing on non-prestige objects and in the life cycle and cultural biography of objects, the ritual/votive practices, and the diffusion of writing in the region.

  • 59 On changing nature, status, and significance of objects during their life cycle, and the processes (...)
  • 60 For instance, an Attic red-figure krater found in a tomb at Nola, and inscribed suqina (‘of the tom (...)
  • 61 On the social function of literacy in Puglia, see Lomas, forthcoming.

28Writing may be a significant element in the cultural biography of a votive object. Apart from the inscribed laminae, which we can reasonably assume to have been purpose-made for votive use, most of the inscribed votives seem to have been ordinary items. It is possible that some of the pottery fragments came from miniature vessels that were not functional items but were specially produced as votives, but most seem to have come from normal-sized vessels. This suggests at least the possibility that these were produced as ordinary domestic wares but later used as votive offerings. In addition, most of the inscriptions seem to have been added after manufacture. Dipinti or inscriptions added before firing are rare. Therefore, it is possible that one of the functions of the inscription is to mark the transition from one state—(everyday object) to another (sacred object) and to make that transition permanent.59 The fact that the emphasis, as far as we can tell, is on naming the recipient of the gift—namely the deity—rather than the donor, suggests that the act of inscribing, or commissioning an inscription, was about marking the act of giving the gift. It also had the effect of making sure that it could not be revoked, in the same way that some Etruscan grave goods were inscribed with the word suθi or suθina (‘to/of the grave’) to label them as specific funerary offerings.60 This effort to mark an object with an inscription to personalise it for the recipient rather than for the giver provides a marked contrast with other classes of inscriptions in the Messapic area, including other votive or ritual inscriptions on non-portable objects. Funerary inscriptions in the region, for example, place great emphasis on personal names. The epigraphic culture of the Salento seems to be very much one in which inscriptions are part of an elite display culture and in which the role of the inscription is usually to display and commemorate personal or family identity.61

  • 62 For example, mi mulu licineśi velχainaśi (‘I am the gift of Lincies Velχaias’: Rix, 1991, Cr 3.13); (...)
  • 63 Becker, 2009, 87-89, 96-97.

29The votive inscriptions from Puglia form an interesting contrast with votive inscriptions from other areas of Italy. In Etruria, which is much better documented, most votive inscriptions emphasise the identity of the donor and the act of dedication rather than the god to whom the dedication is made. Many Archaic inscriptions are typically in first person and take the form ‘I am of X’ or ‘I was given/dedicated by X’, thereby placing emphasis on the personal name of the donor, the act of giving, and sometimes the name of the object dedicated.62 This places the inscribed votive firmly in the context of elite competition and competitive gift exchange and the inscription serves primarily to record the identity of the donor and his or her generosity.63 In Puglia, however, the function of the votive inscription appears to be different, placing emphasis on the recipient.

30Since writing in this society was a relatively new development in the Archaic period, and probably controlled by the elite even if the execution was in the hands of non-elite groups such as scribes and artisans, the presence of inscriptions on otherwise modest objects suggests that we should be wary of equating modest objects with socially and economically modest donors. These offerings were not necessarily made by the non-elite. The consistent nature of the votives found at the sites in question, both inscribed and non-inscribed, suggests that in most cases the nature of the offering was largely dictated by what was appropriate to the nature of the cult rather than the status, personality, or even ethnicity of the donor. It is possible, therefore, that the role of writing on a votive object of low value also had another function other than to irrevocably mark it as a votive. The presence of an elite technology such as writing may have also served to confer ‘eliteness’ on an otherwise non-prestige object, and by extension its donor—perhaps as an assertion of that donor’s status, or as a way of drawing divine attention to the gift in the hope of gaining additional favour.

  • 64 Pagliara, 1987, p. 317-27; De Simone, 1988.

31The Grotta della Poesia, at Rocavecchia, is similar in nature to the Grotta Porcinara. It is a cave sanctuary with long occupation and a pattern of Archaic activity on the external terrace and Hellenistic and Roman activity in the interior. In contrast to the situation at the Grotta Porcinara, the majority of evidence at the Grotta della Poesia comes from inside the cave, the walls of which are covered with a dense palimpsest of 3rd/2nd century inscriptions in Messapic and Latin. As noted previously, these inscriptions record verbal promises of high-value offerings to the deity, Taotor.64 The role of writing in this context seems to be to record a transient gift of considerable value, or more precisely of the promise to give one. The aspirations suggests that—however banal some of the votive objects may look to modern eyes—the people who made offerings at Grotta della Poesia and similar sanctuaries were not necessarily of low social and economic status.

  • 65 Pandolfini, Prosdocimi, 1990, p. 270-87.
  • 66 Significantly, sanctuaries used by more than one ethnic group seem to have played an important role (...)

32The geographical and chronological distribution of inscribed votives requires further comment. Chronologically, the practice of inscribing votive objects seems confined to the Archaic and early Hellenistic periods. It declines markedly just at the point when epigraphic density in the region starts to rise sharply, and the emphasis shifts almost exclusively to the sphere of elite display, with inscriptions appearing in elite tombs and on stone votives and buildings, rather than on portable objects. Geographically, inscribed votives seem to cluster at sites with a very international character, and evidence of their use by people, notably Greeks, from beyond the region. This has important implications for our understanding of the adoption and diffusion of literacy. Perhaps, as elsewhere in Italy, sanctuaries acted as focal points for the teaching and dissemination of literacy. The sanctuary at Baratella, near Este, had an important role in disseminating literacy in the Veneto and may have been a centre of teaching of literacy. Some sanctuaries in southern Etruria may have had a similar role.65 Although it is not always wise to import models from regions with different cultures and customs, it is possible that some Messapic sanctuaries acted as points of cultural contact that allowed for the transmission of literacy, amongst other things. There is no evidence that these sanctuaries had a formal role in the teaching of literacy, as has been argued for Baratella. It seems entirely plausible, however, that they might have acted as meeting places and points of contact and cultural exchange between Greeks and Messapians.66 The fact that the emergence of some of these sanctuaries—perhaps best documented at Oria—coincides with a phase of urban expansion and significant territorial organisation, suggests that cultural exchange may have been taking place against the background of a wider phase of change and development in Messapic culture and society that made it particularly receptive to innovations.

33There is also strong evidence for widespread cultural contact and exchange in the region, despite frequent periods of conflict between Greeks and Messapians in the 5th and 4th centuries. Perhaps the practice of labelling portable votives with the name of either deity or donor is essentially an adoption of a Greek practice, which becomes less common as an independent Messapic culture of writing and epigraphy becomes more securely established. The diminution in numbers of inscribed votives may also be less dramatic than it initially seems, given the number of inscribed portable objects of unknown context. More significantly, this change coincides with a wider change in the cult practices at some sanctuaries, marked by a greater focus on rituals taking place within the caves rather than in front of them. The inscriptions from the Grotta della Poesia may also indicate that a greater degree of importance was placed on offerings of perishable goods in this later phase.

34In conclusion, it seems that inscriptions on portable votive objects were designed both to draw attention (human and/or divine) to a particular offering and to add value to it by associating it with the elite dominated practice of writing. Inscriptions also served to defunctionalise objects by marking them out as a votives, and thus symbolising their transition from the sphere of daily life to that of votive offering. The practice of adding inscriptions to votive objects shows that some sanctuaries played a role in diffusing literacy skills in the region.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Agostiniani, L., 1982, Le «iscrizioni parlanti» dell’Italia antica, Florence.

Appadurai, A., 1986, Introduction: Commodities and the politics of value, in A. Appadurai (ed.), 1986, The Social Life of Things: Commodities in cultural perspective, Cambridge, p. 3-63.

Arena, R., 1998, Iscrizioni greche arcaiche di Sicilia e Magna Grecia. 5, Iscrizioni di Taranto, Locri Epizefiri, Velia e Siracusa, Alessandria.

Bagnasco Gianni, G., 1996, Oggetti iscritti di epoca orientalizzante in Etruria, Florence.

Becker, H., 2009, The economic agency of the Etruscan temple; Elites dedications and display, in M. Gleba and H. Becker, Votives, places and rituals in Etruscan religion, Leiden, p. 87-100.

Bonfante, L., 2006, Votive offerings in Etruscan religion, in N. de Grummond and E. Simon (eds.), The religion of the Etruscans, Austin, p. 90-115.

Coppola, D., 1981, La Grotta di S. Maria di Agnano ad Ostuni, in Atti del Convegno dei comuni messapici, peuceti e dauni, 8, Bari, p. 174-88.

Cornell, T.J., 1991, The tyranny of the evidence: a discussion of the possible uses of literacy in Etruria and Latium in the archaic age, in M. Beard et al., Literacy in the Roman World, Ann Arbor, p. 7-33.

Cinquepalmi, A., 1987, Ostuni, Grotta S. Maria d’Agnano, 7, TARAS, 1-2, p. 135-36.

D’Andria, F., 1979, Salento arcaico. La nuova documentazione archeologica. Appendice: Oria. Scavi in località Monte Papalucio, in AAVV, Salento Arcaico. Atti del Colloquio Internazionale Lecce 5-8 aprile 1979, Galantina, p. 15-28

D’Andria, F., 1990, Archeologia dei Messapi, Bari.

D’Andria, F. and Dell’Aglio, A. (eds.), 2002, Klaohi Zis. Il culto di Zeus a Ugento, Cavallino.

De Simone, C., 1979, Il Messapico, in AA.VV., Le incrizioni pre-latine in Italia. Atti dei convegni Lincei 39, Rome, p. 105-17.

De Simone, C., 1982, Su tabaras (femm.-a) e la diffusione di culti misteriosofici nella Messapia, SE, 50, p. 177-97

De Simone, C., 1988, Iscrizioni messapiche della Grotta della Poesia (Melendugno, Lecce), ASNP, 18.2, p. 325-415.

De Simone, C. and Marchesini, S., 2002, Monumenta Linguae Messapicae, Wiesbaden.

Dewailly, M. and Denoyelle, M., 2004, Santa Maria di Agnano (Ostuni), MEFRA, 116 (1), p. 661-68.

Frisone, F., 2007, Repertorio della documentazione letteraria, epigrafica e numismatica riferiblie a oria e alla religione Messapica.

Garfinkel, Y., 1994, Ritual burial of cultic objects: the earliest evidence, CAJ, 4, p. 159-88.

Glinister, F., 2000, Sacred rubbish, in E. Bispham and C.J. Smith (edss), Religion in archaic and republican Rome and Italy, Edinburgh, p. 54-70.

Guglielmino, R., 2006, Rocca Vecchia (Lecce). New evidence for Aegean contacts with Apulia in the Late Bronze Age, Accordia Research Papers, 10, p. 87-102.

Jeffery, L.H., 1990, The local scripts of archaic Greece: a study of the origin of the Greek alphabet and its development from the eighth to the fifth centuries B.C., rev. ed., Oxford.

Kopytoff, I., 1986, The cultural biography of things: Commoditization as a process, in A. Appadurai (ed.), The Social Life of Things: Commodities in cultural perspective, Cambridge, p. 64-94.

Lamboley, J.-L., 1996, Recherches sur les messapiens, ive-iie siècle avant J.-C., Rome.

Lomas, K., forthcoming, Hidden writing: epitaphs within tombs in early Italy, in M.-L. Haack (ed.), L’écriture et l’espace de la mort, Paris.

Marchesini, S., 1999, Confini e frontiera nella grecità d’Occidente: la situazione alfabetica, in AA.VV. Confini e frontiera nella grecità d’Occidente. Atti di 37 o Convegno di studi sulla Magna Grecia, Taranto, p. 173-212.

Osborne, R., 2004, Hoards, votives, offerings: The archaeology of the dedicated object. World Archaeology, 36.1, p. 1-10.

Pagliara, C., 1973, La grotta Porcinara al Capo di S. Maria di Leuca, 1, Le iscrizioni, Annali della Facoltà di Lettere di Lecce, 6, p. 5-67.

Pagliara, C., 1978a, La grotta Poesia di Roca (Melendugno-Lecce). Note preliminari, ASNP, 17, p. 267-328.

Pagliara, C., 1978b, Iscrizioni su materiali fittili, in AA.VV. Leuca, Galatina, p. 17-89.

Pagliara, C., 1978c, Le iscrizioni parietali, in AA.VV., Leuca, Galatina, p. 189-208.

Pagliara, C., 1979, Materiali iscritti arcaici del Salento, in AA.VV., Salento arcaico, Galantina, p. 57-91.

Pagliara, C., 1981, Prime note per una storia dei culti nel Salento arcaico, Atti del Convegno dei comuni messapici, peuceti e dauni, 8, Bari, p. 143-51.

Pandolfini, S. and Prosdocimi, A.L., 1990, Alfabetari e insegnamento della scrittura in Etruria e nell’Italia antica, Rome.

Parlangèli, O., 1960, Studi Messapici, Milan.

Pascucci, P., 1990, I depositi votivi paleoveneti: per un’archeologia del culto, Padua.

Pedley, J.G., 2005, Sanctuaries and the sacred in the ancient Greek world, Cambridge.

Prosdocimi, A.L., 1986, Messapico no “sum”, SE, 54, p. 196-204.

Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P., 1991, Archaeology: theories, methods and practice, New York.

Renfrew, C., 1994, The archaeology of religion, in C. Renfrew and B.W. Zubrow (eds.), The Ancient mind: elements of cognitive archaeology, New York, p. 47-54.

Rix, H., 1991, Etruskishe Texte. Editio Minor, Tübingen.

Rouveret, A., 1979, La céramique greque, italiote e à vernis noir, in AA.VV., Leuca, Galatina, p. 91-106

Santoro, C., 1982, Nuovi Studi Messapici (Epigrafi, Lessico), 1, Galantina.

Santoro, C., 1984, Nuovi Studi Messapici. Primo supplemento. Parte I (le epigrafi). Parte II (il lessico), Galantina.

Santoro, C., 1988, Il lessico del divino e della religione messapica, ASP, 41, p. 63-104.

Santoro, C., 1989-1990, Nuovi studi messapici: II supplemento, SE, 56, p. 376-77.

Sherratt, A., 2003, Visible writing: Questions of script and identity in early Iron Age Greece and Cyprus. OJA, 22 (3), p. 225-42.

Stoddart, S. and Whitley, J., 1988, The social context of literacy in Archaic Greece and Etruria, Antiquity, 62, p. 761-72.

van Straten, F., 1992, Gifts for the gods, in H. Versnel (ed.), Faith, hope and worship, Leiden, p. 65-151.

Whitehouse, R.D. and Wilkins, J.B., 1989, Greeks and Natives in South-East Italy: Approaches to the Archaeological Evidence, in T.C. Champion (ed.), Centre and Periphery. Comparative Studies in Archaeology, London, p. 102-26.

Haut de page

Annexe

Figure 1. Principal archaeological sites of the Salento.

Figure 1. Principal archaeological sites of the Salento.

Sites with inscribed votives are underlined.

Drawing: author.

Figure 2. The Messapic script, ca. 450.

Figure 2. The Messapic script, ca. 450.

Figure 3. Types and chronology of Messapic inscriptions.

Figure 3. Types and chronology of Messapic inscriptions.

Figure 4. Grotta Porcinara.

Figure 4. Grotta Porcinara.

Drawing: author, after D’Andria, 2002.

Figure 5. Cults represented in the epigraphic record.

Figure 5. Cults represented in the epigraphic record.
Haut de page

Notes

1 Inevitably, there is considerable uncertainty over whether more lavish votives were offered but failed to survive, a point which is discussed further below. The general impression, however, is that fewer high value and/or purpose-made votives were offered than was the case in some other areas of Italy, such as Etruria or the Veneto, especially in the Archaic period: Pascucci, 1990, p. 183-90; Bonfante, 2006.

2 All dates hereafter are BCE unless otherwise noted.

3 Whitehouse, Wilkins, 1989.

4 Stoddart, Whitley 1988; Cornell 1991; Bagnasco Gianni 1996.

5 On the problems of identifying and recording votive deposits, see Osborne, 2004.

6 Many of the inscriptions are dated on the basis of letter forms rather than archaeological context and this dating may therefore be open to revision. See De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, p. 5-6.

7 Collected in Parlangèli, 1960; Santoro, 1982; Santoro, 1984. The most recent edition is De Simone, Marchesini, 2002.

8 See De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, p. 5-7, in which many of the later inscriptions, previously thought to be as late as the 1st century, are redated to the 3rd or early 2nd century.

9 De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, p. 5-6

10 IM 30.111 (Santoro 1982, p. 151-53); Marchesini, 1999, p. 181-203.

11 Marchesini, 1999, p. 181-203.

12 There are a number of cippi with longer inscriptions, which may be legal or administrative in nature, such as those from Carovigno (IM 5.21-23: Parlangèli, 1960, p. 63-68), Oria (IM 9.19: Santoro, 1982, p. 36-40), Brindisi (IM 6.13 and 6.21: Parlangèli, 1960, p. 72-74), and Galantina (IM 21.11: Parlangèli, 1960, p. 178). Others, such as an inscription on part of a stone cornice from Valesio (IM 14.110: Parlangèli, 1960, p. 129-30) and a large inscribed stone block ornamented with triglyphs and metopes from Ugento (IM 26.18: Santoro, 1982, p. 112-13), may have been building inscriptions. On the typology of Messapic inscriptions, see Lomas, forthcoming.

13 For instance at Monte Papalucio, near Oria (Lamboley, 1996, p. 128-29), S. Maria Agnano, at Ostuni (Coppola, 1981; Lamboley, 1996, p. 38), and Grotta Porcinara (Pagliara 1987; Lamboley, 1996, p. 266-68).

14 These came in many forms, some plain and others decorated with incised patterns, but few had inscriptions. For the typologies of cippi and stelae, see D’Andria, 1990, p. 61-68; D’Andria, Dell’Aglio, 2002, p. 52-54.

15 Few remains survive, but the architectural terracottas found on some sites suggest the presence of cult buildings. See Lamboley, 1996, p. 358-60.

16 Coppola, 1981; Denoyelle, Dewailly, 2004; Pagliara, 1987, p. 297; Guglielmino, 2006.

17 Lombardo, 1981, p. 14-18; Lamboley, 1996, p. 444-48, 448-50. Lombardo argues that the development of the sanctuary was part of the emergence of Oria as an important Messapic centre, and that it was located on a cultural and political boundary between a Tarentine dominated area and a Salentine region with an increasingly well defined Messapic identity.

18 The interiors of the Grotta Porcinara and Grotta della Poesia are heavily covered with rock-cut inscriptions in Greek, Messapic, and Latin, many forming a densely overlapping palimpset which is extremely difficult to decipher. The Messapic texts all come from the Grotta della Poesia, but less than half of the total area of the cave has been examined, and it is possible that more will be deciphered. See Pagliara, 1979; 1987; De Simone, 1988; De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, MLM 3 Ro-24 Ro.

19 IM 26.16 (Parlangèli, 1960, p. 219).

20 IM 7.115 (Parlangèli, 1960, p. 87).

21 The Messapic pantheon included a large number of deities clearly associated with, or derived from, Greek cults, such as Aprodita (Aphrodite) and Damatra/Damatira (Demeter). The forms of ritual and the specific nature of these cults was, however, purely local. See Santoro, 1988; Frisone, 2007.

22 Coppola, 1981, p. 176-77; Cinquepalmi, 1987; Lamboley, 1996, p. 38; Dewailly, Denoyelle, 2004, p. 663-64.

23 Coppola, 1981, p. 183-86.

24 Coppola, 1981. p. 187-88; Cinquepalmi, 1987; Dewailly, Denoyelle, 2004, p. 664-66.

25 De Simone, 1982.

26 D’Andria, 1979, p. 27-27; D’Andria, 1990, p. 239-40; Lamboley, 1996, p. 128-29.

27 D’Andria, 1990, p. 274-78.

28 D’Andria, 1990, p. 239-306.

29 Pagliara, 1978a, p. 68-77.

30 Pagliara, 1978a, p. 58-68, 77-80; Lamboley, 1996, p. 266-67.

31 Pagliara, 1973; Pagliara, 1978c.

32 Rouveret, 1978, p. 91-106; Pagliara, 1978b; Lamboley, 1996, p. 267-68.

33 The identity of the deity is discussed further below, but it appears in both Greek and Messapic inscriptions. The Messapic form appears to be Batas, as demonstrated by a relatively intact inscription on a 3rd century skyphos from Mesagne (IM 0.320; Santoro, 1982, p. 165-66), but it also appears in a Greek dedication to Zeus Batios (Pagliara, 1978, p. 177-88, no. E.8), suggesting that, like many Messapic deities, it was assimilated to a Greek god, in this case Zeus.

34 Pagliara, 1987; Guglielmino, 2006; De Simone, 1988.

35 Lombardo, 1981, p. 14-18; Lamboley, 1996, p. 444-50; Whitehouse, Wilkins 1989.

36 IM 27.13 (Santoro, 1982, p. 125; Pagliara, 1978b, p. 187-89) and IM 27.116 (Santoro, 1982, p. 72; Pagliara, 1978b, p. 178, E10).

37 IM 27.115 (Santoro, 1982, p. 131; Pagliara, 1978b, p. 187-89); IM 4.100 (Santoro, 1989-1990, p. 425-26); IM 0.320 (Santoro, 1982, p. 165-66).

38 The identification of the script is also problematic, as the Messapic script is closely based on the Greek alphabet, although the presence of one of the distinctive Messapic characters may give some clue as to whether an inscription is Greek or Messapic.

39 A distinctive subset of Messapic language and script, often termed Apulian, developed in the 4th century. This was principally restricted to northern Puglia, but the Apulian dialect and script is found in some of the ritual inscriptions from other sites in the region, notably Grotta della Poesia (De Simone, 1988).

40 Pagliara, 1973; Pagliara, 1978b; Pagliara, 1978c, p. 195-207; Pagliara, 1979, p. 68-77.

41 The so-called iscrizioni parlanti which take the form ‘I belong to ....’ are very common in Etruria and some other areas of central and northern Italy (Agostiniani 1982), but this use of inscription as a mark of ownership or possession is not often found in Puglia.

42 IM 0.472 (Santoro, 1989-1990). The ending ‘-aihi’ is very common in Messapic inscriptions and is fairly securely identified as a genitive. It is very widely attested in funerary inscriptions and other evidence for personal names. For the interpretations of no, see Prosdocimi, 1986.

43 IM 9.121; Santoro, 1982, p. 55-56.

44 IM 0.472; Santoro, 1982, p. 200-201.

45 Pagliara, 1978, p. 177-88; Frisone, 2007. Batas may have been the Messapic name of the god, who also appears to have been equated with Zeus, appearing in a Greek inscription as Zeus Batios (βατιος εμι: Pagliara, 1978b, p. 179, E8 and 187-89). The derivation of Atiaxte is unclear, but Idde may derive from Zis, the Messapic name for Zeus. See Santoro, 1988, p.142-44, 148-51.

46 Porto Cesareo: IM 29. 11 (Santoro, 1982, p. 137-38); Ruffano: IM 32.11 (Santoro, 1982, p. 159-60); S. Maria D’Agnano: IM 4.19 (Santoro, 1989-1990, p. 378).

47 D’Andria, 1990, p. 273, no. 128; De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, MLM 42 Ur. This is highly fragmentary and only the name and epithet of the goddess—[a]na ap[rodita]—survive.

48 Stoddart, Whitley 1988.

49 Santoro, 1988; Frisone, 2007.

50 Clearchus fr. 48 ap. Athenaeus 12.522D-F; Pagliara, 1978, p. 177-88; Frisone, 2007; IM 0.323 (Santoro, 1984, p. 105-106).

51 De Simone, Marchesini, 2002, MLM 3 Ro-24 Ro.

52 Another possible dedication to Taotor has been found at Vaste (IM 22.19: Parlangèli, 1960, p. 183) and the tomb of a priest of Taotor is known from Mesagne (IM 12.118: Santoro, 1982, p. 85-86).

53 Votives: Lamboley, 1996, p. 191-96; inscriptions: Pagliara, 1987, p. 317-27.

54 Statue of Zeus: D’Andria, Dell’Aglio, 2002. Votives of bronze or precious metal are less likely to survive as they were more vulnerable to plunder or to reuse. For the practice elsewhere in the Mediterranean of melting down votives to make ritual vessels, see Van Straten, 1981, p. 80; Becker, 2009, p. 90.

55 Cf. Renfrew, 1994, p. 49-53 on the possible motivations for deposition of votives, and Van Straten, 1992, p. 78-104 for the motives for making votive offerings of various types.

56 On the motivations for burial of votives, see Renfew, Bahn, 1991, p. 360; Garfinkel, 1994, p. 160-62, 180. For Italian votive deposits, see Glinister, 2000; Becker, 2009, p. 88-90.

57 Cf. also Pedley, 2005, p. 113-14 on the role of cult appropriateness rather than the status of the donor in determining the nature of votive offerings at some south Italian Greek sanctuaries.

58 Stoddart, Whitley, 1988; for an alternative view, see Cornell, 1991.

59 On changing nature, status, and significance of objects during their life cycle, and the processes of singularization, see Appadurai, 1986, p. 11-16; Kopytoff, 1986, p. 73-77.

60 For instance, an Attic red-figure krater found in a tomb at Nola, and inscribed suqina (‘of the tomb’: Rix, 1991, Cm 4.2). Similar examples of grave goods inscribed with the same word have been found at Cerveteri (Rix, 1991, Cr 4.6, Cr 4.7, Cr 4.13, Cr 4.14), Volsinii (Rix, 1991, Vs 4.16, Vs 4.17) and many other Etruscan sites.

61 On the social function of literacy in Puglia, see Lomas, forthcoming.

62 For example, mi mulu licineśi velχainaśi (‘I am the gift of Lincies Velχaias’: Rix, 1991, Cr 3.13); mi spanti squlinas (‘I am the plate of Squlina’: Rix, 1991, Cr 2.3); mi larθia usiles (‘I am of Larthia Usiles’: Rix, 1991, Cr 2.64).

63 Becker, 2009, 87-89, 96-97.

64 Pagliara, 1987, p. 317-27; De Simone, 1988.

65 Pandolfini, Prosdocimi, 1990, p. 270-87.

66 Significantly, sanctuaries used by more than one ethnic group seem to have played an important role in the diffusion of literacy elsewhere in the Mediterranean, notably on Cyprus, where they provided venues for contact between Phoenicians and Cypriotes (Sherratt, 2003). On the role of sanctuaries as emporia and as venues promoting economic and cultural exchange, see Whitehouse, Wilkins, 1989.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Principal archaeological sites of the Salento.
Légende Sites with inscribed votives are underlined.
Crédits Drawing: author.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2208/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Titre Figure 2. The Messapic script, ca. 450.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2208/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 24k
Titre Figure 3. Types and chronology of Messapic inscriptions.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2208/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 80k
Titre Figure 4. Grotta Porcinara.
Crédits Drawing: author, after D’Andria, 2002.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2208/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 196k
Titre Figure 5. Cults represented in the epigraphic record.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2208/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 147k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Kathryn Lomas, « Crossing boundaries: The inscribed votives of Southeast Italy », Pallas, 86 | 2011, 311-329.

Référence électronique

Kathryn Lomas, « Crossing boundaries: The inscribed votives of Southeast Italy », Pallas [En ligne], 86 | 2011, mis en ligne le 30 octobre 2011, consulté le 17 novembre 2017. URL : http://pallas.revues.org/2208 ; DOI : 10.4000/pallas.2208

Haut de page

Auteur

Kathryn Lomas

Honorary Senior Research Associate
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
K.Lomas@ucl.ac.uk

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Pallas – Revue d'études antiques est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Presses universitaires du Midi
  • Revues.org