BMCR 2006.12.14

De Criscio Collections

, , Latin inscriptions in the Kelsey Museum : the Dennison and De Criscio collections. Master and use copy. Digital master created according to Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials, Version 1. Digital Library Federation, December 2002.. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005. 1 online resource (254 pages) : illustrations.. ISBN 9780472025473. $95.00.

This book is the first complete catalogue of the Latin inscriptions on stone and metal in the collections of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan. The 400 entries include 18 inscriptions that were previously published by John D’Arms in 1973 and 101 published in 1979 in the volume edited by Martha Wellborne Baldwin and Mario Torelli.1 While the majority of the inscriptions belong to the De Criscio and Dennison collections, acquired around the turn of the century, Tuck also includes more recent gifts to the Kelsey Museum as well as inscriptions from the Michigan excavations at Terenouthis, Karanis, Carthage, and Pisidian Antioch. The book’s stated purpose is to re-edit the entire corpus of inscriptions held by the Kelsey and to make them available in a single volume.

Tuck begins with an introduction that locates his work within current epigraphical scholarship, sets out his methodology, and describes the history of the De Criscio collection, the Dennison collection, and the five inscriptions from Michigan projects in Africa and Asia, as well as the general nature of the material in each group. This introductory section is marred by a number of disconcerting errors, listed below under errata.

The catalogue follows and is divided into three chapters by collection and probable provenance: 1) the De Criscio Collection: inscriptions from Campania; 2) the Dennison Collection and Other Inscriptions from Rome; and 3) Inscriptions from Africa and Asia. Tuck notes that he has included non-Dennison inscriptions with the Dennison Collection on the grounds that their probable provenance is Rome and because, as he argues, “the Dennison stones do not constitute a discrete, integrated find.”2 Within these chapters the inscriptions are grouped by use and, within use, alphabetically: local and imperial administration, religious dedications, epitaphs, lead waterpipes, and finally forgeries. The one exception to this rule is catalogue number 390, a late addition to the epitaphs listed in Chapter 2.

The entries are very well edited and follow current epigraphical standards as well as the overall style of publication established for this particular collection by John D’Arms.3 Each entry includes Tuck’s catalogue number, the museum’s inventory number, the probable findspot, a description of the stone, a discussion of letter forms, the transcribed text, and a discussion of the text. All the inscriptions, with the exception of no. 394, are illustrated by clear black and white photographs.4 Tuck ends each entry with an approximate date for the inscription based on the combined evidence of letterforms, linguistic formulae, onomastic conventions, and other clues. He notes that some readers will find these chronological judgments doubtful, and advises such readers to “skip the final sentence in each catalogue entry.”5

Tuck’s presentation of the individual inscriptions is meticulous. He includes the shape and condition of the stone, measurements, the letter forms, decorative elements, interpuncts, onomastics, and social and historical context.6 Tuck’s commentary on the naval funerary inscriptions, nos. 17-70, is particularly fine, presenting the evidence from the stones, previous interpretations, and Tuck’s own conclusions. In the case of the inscriptions previously published by D’Arms or by Baldwin and Torelli, Tuck has intentionally kept his comments brief, and the careful reader, therefore, may also need refer to those publications.

The book concludes with a bibliography and four indices: a concordance to Kelsey Museum accession numbers and to standard collections (AE, CIL, etc.); a topographical index; an index of nomina, cognomina, and agnomina/supernomina; and a subject index. These indices will be particularly useful for the reader researching comparanda and historical phenomena.


page 2: “The previously unknown nomen of a plumbarius is attested on 392 . . .” seems to refer to catalogue entry 393, not 392.

page 2, n. 7: “line 2 in 178” may refer instead to line 2 in 183, as this is the only inscription for which overpainting is noted.

page 6, n. 15: Cooley 2001 must be Cooley 2000.

page 7, n. 19: “is illustrated by 339” seems to refer to 343.

page 8: “The civilian epitaphs, 293-389, are largely . . .” Due to a late addition to the catalogue, the civilian epitaphs run through 390.

page 13 n. 9 and 20 n. 54: Here the footnote text repeats exactly.

page 88, no. 126: ustina for ustrina.


1. John D’Arms 1973. “Eighteen Unedited Latin Inscriptions from Puteoli and Vicinity,” AJA 77: 151-167. Martha Wellborne Baldwin and Mario Torelli, eds. 1979. Latin Inscriptions in the Kelsey Museum: The Dennison Collection. The University of Michigan, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Studies 4. Ann Arbor.

2. Tuck, 2. In the interests of understanding Dennison’s collecting habits, however, it would have been preferable to keep the groups separate.

3. Tuck follows the editing conventions established by Krummey and Panciera 1980 and Panciera 1991 (Hans Krummey and Silvio Panciera 1980. “Criteri di edizione e segni diacritici,” Tituli 2: 205-215; Silvio Panciera 1991. “Struttura dei supplementi e segni diacritici dieci anni dopo,” Supplementa Italica n.s. 8: 9-21. Rome). John D’Arms 1973.

4. In two instances, nos. 204 and 210, however, this reader wished for a better illustration of the object bearing the inscription, as is exemplified by the marble urn bearing no. 264.

5. Tuck, 4.

6. There is one odd omission from the commentary on the inscriptions. Tuck mentions that the inscriptions were overpainted prior to their installation on the walls of Michigan’s Alumni Memorial Hall and states that “these cases (of overpainting) are pointed out in the individual entries.” Tuck, 2. In only one instance, however, does he note an instance of overpainting or of a text changed by overpainting, no. 183.