The Entella Bronze Tablets (25 January 2003)

One of the more fascinating items in the Nachlass of the late Professor David Lewis is a dossier recording his encounter as an expert assessor with the bronze tablets from Entella in Sicily when they first came into circulation in the antiquities market in the late 1970s. The dossier contains a crucial set of photographs made prior to cleaning of several of the tablets. The Centre has made this material available to Prof. Carmine Ampolo (SNS, Pisa), who has succeeded the late Prof. G. Nenci as co-ordinator of work on the tablets and the site of Entella. In January 2003 a workshop was organised by Charles Crowther and Jonathan Prag with a view to integrating this new material and bringing both the tablets and Prof. Ampolo's work to a wider audience in Britain.

Entella tablet I = Ampolo C2 = SEG 30, 1117

Presentations at the workshop included an outline of the history of the tablets' travels by Jonathan Prag, surveys of the archaeology and coinage of Entella by Cecilia Parra (Pisa) and Susanne Frey-Kupper (Geneva), and of the lettering of the tablets by Alan Johnston (UCL). The texts of the tablets were examined in detail during the afternoon by Prof. Ampolo and Jonathan Prag, and a final session led by Charles Crowther revisited the still-problematic Nakone settlement text. But the most dramatic moment of the day came before lunch in a presentation by Prof. Ampolo in which the photographs from the Lewis archive and a certain amount of technology were deployed to demonstrate that the tablets constitute a dossier in the full sense. The Lewis photographs reveal that wherever one tablet rested upon another, it left a 'shadow' in the pattern of corrosion. The presence of these shadows makes clear that all the tablets, including the apparently unrelated Nakone document, belong to a single deposit.

Publication plans are in process and it is hoped that the workshop marks merely the beginning of a wider knowledge and appreciation of a quite remarkable set of documents from Hellenistic Sicily.

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Created on Wednesday, 18 January, 2006: 11:14:45