Today is the last official day for the AHRC funding for the Greek in Italy project, but the project’s work and associated talks, presentations and publications (and this blog) will continue. Our edited volume Migration, Mobility and Language Contact in and around the Ancient Mediterranean will be published next year, and further books and articles resulting from work done under the auspices of the project are in various stages of preparation and production. We can look back for the moment on what we have achieved over the project. In quantitative terms, we have so far published 30 books, articles, chapters and reviews, given 41 talks and seminars to academic and non-academic audiences, undertaken two research trips, hosted two international conferences (one in Cambridge, one in Rome), put on two exhibition displays, one in the Fitzwilliam Museum and one in the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge, and hosted one project intern (Valentina Lunardi, soon to be starting a PhD at UCLA). Livia Tagliapietra, the PhD student on the project, passed her PhD (without corrections) in March. The 76 (now 77) posts on this blog have been viewed over 30,000 times by over 20,000 people (and the most popular time to view is 11 on Wednesday morning, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee in hand).
Numbers don’t really tell the story of what we have achieved. Perhaps the major publications of the project are the books: Katherine McDonald’s book Oscan in Southern Italy and Sicily has brought to life the particularities of Greek influence on Oscan, particularly the corpus of Oscan written in Greek letters, showing how a fragmentary corpus can be used to unearth the workings of social interactions between different language communities. Nick Zair’s book, Oscan in the Greek Alphabet, looking at roughly the same corpus from a different angle, has traced the way Oscan speakers adapted the Greek alphabet to their native sound system. His work has changed the way these Oscan spellings are interpreted, and has had important consequences for the dating of Oscan inscriptions. Livia Tagliapietra’s thesis will make an easy transition into a third project monograph, which will give a new account for the changes in Greek dialects in Magna Graecia. For myself, I’m still working on what will be the fourth project book, a work on Greek loanwords in Latin, but a chapter on Greek loans in Republican Latin will be coming out next year in the CUP volume A Critical Guide to the Early Latin Language.
Our articles, notices, reviews and conference papers, and the forthcoming edited book, have also met our larger goal of refocusing scholarly attention on the linguistic impact of Greek on all the languages of Italy. People are generally well informed about the spread of Greek material culture to the western Mediterranean, but we have shown that the linguistic influence is as pervasive, affecting all the languages for which we have records. Careful attention to linguistic evidence can reveal new aspects of cultural contacts. As Patrick James has shown in his work on the project, understanding those links can have ramifications for how we read Greek texts outside of Southern Italy as well as the Latin, Italic, Etruscan and Greek texts from Italy. The illustration at the top of this blog, a photograph of an inscription from the museum in Taranto, taken on our trip there three years ago, gives a micro-example of some of the complexities of the linguistic interchanges that we have looked at. It’s a memorial for a woman called Vibia Cleopatra, who died aged 50. Vibia is an Oscan name in origin, Cleopatra is Greek, and the whole text is written in Latin, although with a Greek -s added to the Latin genitive case ending Vibiaes Cleopatraes. Oscan, Greek, Latin and a morphological borrowing in just two words—not bad.
Finally, it’s my job as Project PI to end with some thanks to individuals. We’ve been very fortunate to have had a very supportive management committee for the project, and excellent local administrative and technical support (with particular thanks to Nigel Thompson, Lucyna Prochnicka, Steve Kimberley and the much missed Jane Fisher-Hunt). I couldn’t wish for a better colleagues than the project team: Geoff Horrocks, Patrick James, Katherine McDonald, Livia Tagliapietra, and Nick Zair, and I wish them all the very best for the future, with heartfelt thanks.