After the conference finished, Annamaria kindly chummed me to the National Archeological Museum in Reggio Calabria. We went there on our project research trip in 2014, where the museum staff found the inscriptions we were looking for. But the only thing that was actually on display was the Riace Bronzes, as the rest of the museum was undergoing a massive refurb. Well, it’s finished now, and it’s seriously impressive: four floors of spectacular exhibits, organised chronologically from top to bottom. Everything’s very well explained, with massive amounts of information on boards on the wall, and whizz-bangery in the form of interactive computer screens. The (not very good) photo below is of one of these screens showing the Tortora stele, which is a legal text from around 500BC, written on several sides, very abraded, and very hard to read. The quality of the 3d image is fantastic, and you can rotate it in any direction so as to be able to see it from all angles.
The only criticism I have is that the inscriptional stuff is treated rather off-handedly: sometimes there’s a summary of what it says, but that’s all. The gold standard, in my view, is the epigraphy gallery of the Musei Capitolini in Rome, which transcribes and translates every inscription. But in every other regard, the Reggio museum is superb.
On display are several Oscan inscriptions. We’d seen them on our last visit, but it was nice to have another chance to examine them. What struck me, however, was how much of a difference the position of an inscription and the light you’re using can make to what you can read. Compare the two pictures below. The first is from 2014, where we were looking down at the inscription, it was next to a window, so there was natural light coming across the inscription, and we had torches, so we could move light sources around, change angles etc. We were able to confirm the reading in previous editions, and thought we saw a letter μ at the start of the fourth line, which has not been read before. The second is from my recent trip. The inscription is fixed upright, and the primary light is electric, down from the roof. This time, I could barely see anything at all on the bottom/left side of the stele at all. It’s a striking demonstration of what a difference the circumstances can make to reading an inscription.
Crimisa 2, 2016