Emanuela Paribeni / Simonetta Segenni (Hg.): Notae Lapicidinarum. Dalle Cave Di Carrara (rezensiert von Alfred Michael Hirt)
sehepunkte 17 (2017), Nr. 2
Emanuela Paribeni / Simonetta Segenni (a cura di): Notae Lapicidinarum
In recent decades the study of Roman marble has garnered the attention of a motley crew of archaeologists, economic historians, students of Roman administration, geologists etc. The inscriptions found on quarry faces, semifinished and finished architectural elements (blocks, columns, capitals etc.) made of 'marble' (a term which includes white and polychrome marbles and granites) have been instrumental in trying to understand the organization of Roman stone quarries and the regional and empire-wide trade of white and coloured stones. Whereas the organization of work at sites like the Bacakale quarries near Iscehisar in Turkey, 'Mons Claudianus' in Egypt, or Chemtou in Tunisia are better understood due to rather informative quarry labels or documentary texts on ostraca, the notae lapicidinarum (brief notes of administrative content) discovered at Carrara in Northern Italy and on architectural elements made of white marble from Carrara have remained rather enigmatic. This is, in part, due to the outdated edition of these labels dating back to the late 1800s (e.g. Luigi Bruzza) or the early 1900s (Charles Dubois) and the piecemeal edition and publication of inscriptions in disparate papers and journals.
The volume by E. Paribeni and S. Segenni, however, finally addresses this issue and assembles the quarry labels found at Carrara and on Carraran marble from Rome and other sites of the Empire. The texts were studied again and have been re-published with photo, transcription based on autopsy, accompanying information on measurements of letters and inscribed object, find-spot, current location, etc. The catalogue of these inscriptions ('Catalogo', assembled by Giovanni Cicala, Silvia Gazzoli, Silvia Cecchi and others, 131-370) is at the core of this hefty and lavishly illustrated volume, and reflects the attempt to distinguish between quarry labels which were studied in full (incl. autopsy of the text) and quarry labels which have meanwhile been destroyed and of which only earlier editions survive. A further distinction is made between quarry labels found on the quarry face (indicated in the catalogue with the letter P) or on semifinished items (S). Although these distinctions are to be applauded from a procedural point of view, it results in rather confusing numbering of catalogue entries with the same numbers being assigned to different inscriptions (e.g. S1, S1addenda, S1Bruzza, S1Dolci, S1Criscuolo; or P1, *P1, P1Bruzza, etc.). Even more irritating is the final chapter provided by Patrizio Pensabene, who again lists quarry labels already presented in the 'Catalogo' without actually referencing the catalogue numbers.
The inscriptions are interpreted and set in their wider context in contributions following the 'Catalogo' and assembled under the heading 'Tabelle, commente e riflessioni'. Besides various tables in which the epigraphic data is aggregated, Paribeni and Segenni comment on the abbreviations found in the quarry labels (399-413); Cesare Letta offers his interpretation of some of these texts (417-433); Segenni compares the labels on Carrara marble with the evidence from quarries like Chemtou or Bacakale (435-439), reiterates some of the issues regarding ownership of the quarries of Carrara (the colony of Luni, the Roman emperor) and tries to cast some light on the internal organization of the quarries (441-450). Finally, Pensabene adds a profound discussion of the distribution and trade of Carrara marble throughout the Roman empire (451-520, without acknowledging more recent literature in English on the topic, esp. Russell 2013).
Some of the contributions preceding the catalogue, to my estimation, seem not really to tie in with the main aim of the book. Though chapters on 'Luni e il marmo' by Lucia Gervasini (35-41) or on the geology of the Carrara marble (by Giancarlo Molli and Antonino Criscuolo, 79-85) are interesting, they add nothing to the key aim of the book; and much of the issues dealt with in mini-chapters such as 'Gente di cava' by Giulio Ciampltrini (63-67) or 'Silvano e la fertilità degli agri marmifori' by Sonia Casaburo and Fabio Fabiani (73-75), though of academic value in itself, are either replicated in the same volume or not relevant here. The absence of a strong editorial hand is evident and perhaps a more coherent and stringent selection of contributions would have helped slim down a bloated volume.
These minor misgivings aside, the volume discussed here offers a highly welcome contribution to the scholarly discussion on the organization of 'imperial' quarries and includes important studies relevant to the field.