ESR 4 Staging Death: Making a Difference

Giovanni Naccarato

Roman funerary inscriptions are more than (normally) short texts that happen to be preserved on awkward stationery: they are complex forms of material communication, embedded in archaeological micro- and macro-contexts. Even a rough and ready survey shows a spectrum of monuments from the mundane to the extraordinary, and while many Roman funerary inscriptions are plain and straightforward with a view to their overall design and written content, there were several ways in which monuments sought to stand out within their settings in funerary spaces. Placement, material quality, and size of funerary monuments, quality and quantity of inscribed texts, sculpture – all of these aspects and features were important factors in the way in which communicative strategies were pursued. Arguably, inscribed verse was also an important, yet comparatively inexpensive decorative feature (in addition to being an attractive vessel for verbal communications), and as decorative elements the so-called carmina epigraphica ought to be studied both in isolation and in interaction with other forms of monumental and archaeological design.

Based on evidence from Roman North Africa, but also from the Iberian Peninsula and Gaul, this project will investigate the materiality and material interactions of Roman inscribed verse with their supports (and additional decorative elements), monumental landscapes, and cultural settings in a broader perspective, from the perspectives of both the creators and the consumers of verbal art.

Expected Results
A doctoral thesis on the objectives mentioned above to build up a general expertise about Roman funerary culture and North African cultural heritage, and professional skills in historical, philological and archaeological analysis.

Host Institution

Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté


Prof. Dr. Sabine Lefebvre


Prof. Dr. Marietta Horster (Mainz)


At Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, with Dr. Alexander Czmiel, the director of Digital Humanities, and Dr. Ulrike Ehmig, managing director of Carmina Latina Epigraphica, as supervisors (April–May 2022).