Full Version: Help with a Tombstone in Bologna!
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I've been working on photos to be added to the Imagebase, and I came across this stone that I photographed in Bologna:
(See it here or below as an attachment)

The inscription at the bottom is a forgery (for the curious, it reads "G(avidio?) Damiano b(ene)f(icario) filius et (h)eredes / per procuratores eius" CIL 03, 06601 = CIL 11, *00109,7), but I'm not sure if the portrait itself is genuine. The inscription is first recorded in CIL 03 as coming from Alexandria, Egypt; CIL 11 puts it in Bologna (where it is today) and marks it as a forgery.

Can anyone say one way or another if the portrait is genuine? Otherwise, thoughts on what the fellow might be holding in his left hand? It almost might be a diploma or writing tablet, but his hand seems to wrap around it too much. A stylus box? Is the shaft to his right (your left) a pilum, the spear of a beneficarius, a modern invention...? Also, as Jasper pointed out, he seems to have a weighted paenula.

Your thoughts?

anyone? Bueller?
Yeah. Come on. You love to look at pictures. Whadda y'all think of that lance?
Didn't see this earlier...

It doesn't look like any kind of case. In the middle, it appears to be somewhat flexible, and the pronounced rim puts me in mind of leather edging as much as wood or metal. Could it bne a kind of desptach case or letterbag?` Maybe a smaller version of the Babatha archive container?

Very intersting depiction altogether - and are we entirely sure only the inscription is a forgery?
Quote:are we entirely sure only the inscription is a forgery?
Neither CIL nor EE says anything on the depiction, other than the usual succint description. There are indeed some elements in the image itself that made Dan and me doubt its reality.
hmm, perhaps some sort of writingtablet?
Are you sure this is a paenula? The brooch on his right shoulder makes me think more of an ordinary sagum...

Whish I knew more about art, but compared to other 3rd century tombstones this one does not look so excentric IMHO.
The gesture of holding the two strap endings with the right hand is very typical, and the fold of the tunic in the middle under the belt is also quite common.
The face looks somehow unusual with the deep carves, and the belt buckle also makes me nervous. Perhaps, because on the whole, the quality of the craftsmanship is surprisingly good compared to similar pieces from 'the border' (e.g. Apamaea).

On the other hand I know of another high quality relief from this period from Augsburg, so the 'inner Empire' vs. 'border region' distinction is not valid.

If this sculpture is indeed a forgery, then the *unknown forger at least took some time to look at contemporary stones.

The strange lance - if it is not a later additon (the f-word = forgery), should surely be seen as a sign of rank. Otherwise it would not have been that proudly presented.

Just my thoughts, but maybe I just made a complete fool of myself Big Grin
That lance is one of the troubling things and might be (the only?) sculptural forgery. The false inscription says it's a b(ene)f(icarius). Is that from the lance? Or did he add the lance?
I do not think the lance is a later addition, since the width of the stone on the right of the 'arcus' is thinner than on the left side, where the lance is depicted. I think the stonemason did this on purpose to have enough space for the lance symbol.

A forger would have had to recut the right side, too, if he wanted to give this impression.

Just my thoughts...
Good point. Would the forger have been inspired by the spear to make this guy a beneficiarius then? Or is the whole thing fake?
The lance looks a lot like a beneficiarian's hasta, so this may have inspired the incription (though that implies the forger knew a good bit about Latin epigraphy, especially if this thing was made when CIL 03 wasn't out yet.

What is the thickening in the middle? A kind of tassel, like on signa?
Just as Florian wrote, this looks very familiar. Many tombstones show exactly the same features. The lance is a beneficiarius-lance.

Image of an original:

[Image: 27665.jpg]

The thing in the middle might be a plate? A long lighted ("Streiflicht") photography might help.
All the features of the soldier fit to the text, and the soldier fits very well into the historical and arthistorical context, so I wonder what made someone think, why it should be a forgery.

The cloak clearly is a sagum, not a paenula. For the sagum depicted in this way there are also many examples. The thing in his left hand might be papyrus, a wax tablet or similar. Such items appear quite often in the left hand of figures and shall demonstrate the litteracy of their holder.

The gesture of his right hand playing with the strap-ends of his cingulum is also typical for the 3rd century, as Florian has pointed out.

A very helpful site for finding analogies is


I think it would be wise to doubt that this is a forgery.
These guys from Augsburg also have these "floppy" items.
[Image: 6254-1.jpg]
And look at the guy here on the right (also Roman Museum Augsburg)
[Image: 6261-3.jpg]
Quote:And look at the guy here on the right (also Roman Museum Augsburg)

This is one of my favourites Big Grin
In the meantime, I have found a possible reason for the 'false'-tag in CIL XI: the CIL editors used them as well when the inscription under consideration did not belong in the region under consideration. And that IS true, because it comes from Egypt ending up in a collection in Bologna. We may perhaps now consider the mystery solved. He'll be up in the imagebase shortly!
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