Workshop II: York 2008
RIB 656 = CIL VII 239 = CSIR Great Britain I 3, 2
Dedication to the emperors' numina and an unknown goddess on a limestone slab found in 1839 with two other votive inscriptions on the site of the Midland Bank (at the junction of Nessgate and Ousegate), now stored in the Yorkshire Museum (inv. no. 2007. 6161).
Dimensions of the stone: 39 x 99 x 13 cm. The inscribed field measures 27 x 73 cm, but only the upper part of the framed field is inscribed with slender and long letters which have a height of 5 cm. Judging from the dimensions of the stone and the content of the text the slab was probably fixed across the façade of a building.
The right part of the stone (about one third of the original) is lost. The preserved inscription is rather weathered, but the text is clear. To the left of the inscribed field there are ansae in the form of peltae terminating in geese protomes enclosed in vertical rectangular spaces. Between the frame of the inscription and the curves of the peltae there are large rosettes.
NVMINIB AVG ET DEAE IOV---
SIUS AEDEM PRO PARTE D+---
Numinib(us) Aug(ustorum) et deae IOV[- - -]
sius aedem pro parte di[midiam - - -]
"To the emperors' numina and the goddess IOV---
---sius (set up / restored) one half of the temple."
Line 1: Ioug[- - -] Wright, RIB.
Line 2: di[rutam restituit] Wright, RIB.
Dedications to imperial numina in combination with another deity are quite common in Britain and Gaul. In RIB Roger Wright suggested that AVG. should be expanded as Augusti. However, there is just one case where multiple numina of a single emperor are worshipped (CIL XIII 1752), whereas a considerable number of inscriptions document the invocation of the numina of more than one emperor (cf. D. Fishwick, Britannia 25, 1994, 127-141).
The goddess' name breaks off after the third letter, and as there is no female deity hitherto known whose name begins with Iou- or Iov-, a decision whether to read V as u or v is not possible (cf. E. Birley, "The Deities of Roman Britain", ANRW II 18. 1 (1986) 3-112). Wright, believing to see traces of a fourth letter G, proposed a name formed from the Celtic iougon (yoke), but what he saw seems to be damage to the stone rather than part of a letter. Nevertheless, we can assume that the name of a local deity was given.
Of the dedicant's name only the end in the nominative is left, making clear that we are dealing with a male dedicant. Wright suggested that he restored a partly destroyed temple. However, the expression pro parte is usually followed by a precise indication of quantity, but in this case we have preserved the letter D followed by traces of another letter, probably an I. These are most convincingly restored as the start of the word dimidia which is by far the best attested (see http://compute-in.ku-eichstaett.de:8888/pls/epigr/epigraphik), and seems more likely than Wright's dirutam restituit. Whether the worshipper dedicated (dedicavit) the building, gave (dedit) or restored (restituit) it or had it made (fecit) we do not know.
This type of tabula ansata suggests the second half of the second century A.D. as does the dedicatory formula Num. Aug. which is most common in Severan times.
Working with "the real thing" is always a great pleasure and contact with actual artefacts from the past brings them to life and makes them even more exciting. I am very grateful to Andrew Morrison of the Yorkshire Museum to have given us the opportunity to work on originals and move freely in the treasure trove of his museum's warehouse. Also I want to express my gratitude to the instructors for sharing their experience and offering their advice as well as the organising committee for being always at hand and making sure everything worked so well.
Last but not least I would like to thank all the other participants who created such a nice atmosphere and made the three days in York very memorable and inspiring.
Back to Inscriptions Studied at York