Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Observing the proper rites and traditions of burial was very important to the Romans. All tombs were outside the city; if you were rich, you could buy land for a tomb on one of the main streets leading into the city, so every traveler would see your final resting place. The land bought for a tomb was sacred and was not to be disturbed... of course, this doesn't mean that it wasn't.  Some Romans specifically demarcated the land that was theirs and shouldn't be messed with.  Others inscribed threats of bad luck that would befall you if you should be so callous as to disturb their tomb site.

This minimalist stele from the Musei Civici in Vicenza (originally from Nanto, Veneto) simply states the amount of space around it to be left free.  Information from the museum says that it is from no later than the Caesarian Age. 

 P(edes) ·III

Let 3 feet be left free from the edge.

 From the front, you can see some great ligatures.  Ligatures combine letters, usually to save space.  On this very narrow surface, the word VACET and FINE have been cut down to only three letters.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
This inscription from Verona is more specific about what kind of violations it forbids, and also gives a little taste of the punishment one would receive.  In the vaguest terms possible, really. 


 He who brings dung inside the marker stones or who violates them,
let him not enjoy life.

Watch out where you dump your dung!  Romans are watching!

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