BMCR 2008.05.37

Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis. The Linen Book of Zagreb. A Comment on the Longest Etruscan Text. Monographs on Antiquity, 4

, Liber linteus zagrabiensis = The linen book of Zagreb : a comment on the longest Etruscan text. Monographs on antiquity ; v. 4. Leuven: Peeters, 2007. 210 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 28 cm.. ISBN 9789042920248. €72.00.

Most Classical authors respected the Etruscans for their skill in religious ritual and divination, but Etruscan religion can be a minefield for naive scholars, tempting many into flights of fancy. Now, however, many reliable works are available, and classicists and historians may safely venture forth, and with promise of great rewards. The main obstacles for outsiders to Etruscan Studies have been overcome: the Etruscan language is generally knowable, even for those who prefer to read in English (see G. Bonfante and L. Bonfante, The Etruscan Language. An Introduction, rev. ed., Manchester, 2002 —hereafter Bonfante-2; see this work for brief entries on all major epigraphic items.) And there is plenty of sound and cautious scholarship on Etruscan religion now available, from monographs to compendia such as the Harvard Guide and the ThesCRA.1 I offer some comments on recent works as background for readers in other fields who may benefit from a fresh look at some of this precious material. For ease of reading, I omit the convention of writing Etruscan with the Greek letters theta, chi, or san —here instead, th, ch, s.

In contrast to their Greek and Italic neighbors, the Etruscans had sacred scriptures, supposedly dictated or sung by the supernatural prophet Tages in the days of the foundation of their cities (thus, theoretically, the Villanovan period). It may be that none of those writings survives, but most of the few, long Etruscan inscriptions that exist today either are fragments of such texts or show the direct influence of this sacred literature.2 The three longest are the Perugia cippus (commemorating the legal and cultic solution of a boundary dispute), the Capua “tile” (a ceremonial calendar) and the linen book found re-used as the wrappings of a female mummy of Ptolemaic-Roman date, now lovingly restored and displayed in the Arheoloski Muzej in Zagreb, Croatia. They were presented in an exhibition at Perugia in 1985, its catalogue furnishing the best facsimiles and transcripts: F. Roncalli, ed., Scrivere Etrusco. Scrittura e letteratura nei massimi documenti della lingua etrusca (Milan, 1985). The Perugia cippus, and Etruscan doctrine on boundaries, are well known (see Bonfante-2: 176-178). The Capua “tile” was masterfully published by the late Mauro Cristofani, Tabula Capuana. Un calendario festivo di età arcaica (Florence, 1995). One new long document is of a different type, raising more questions than it answers, a bronze plaque from Cortona engraved with a mortgage (see Bonfante-2: 178-183; L. Agostiniani and F. Nicosia, Tabula Cortonensis, Rome, 2000). The gold Pyrgi plaques, inscribed in Phoenician and Etruscan, comprise the dedication of a remodeled sanctuary to Uni-Astarte by the king of Caere (unearthed in 1964, see Bonfante-2: 64-68.)

Perhaps the best known document, the so-called Piacenza liver (model), marked for haruspical doctrine with the names of gods presiding over the parts of a sheep-victim’s liver, was published by van der Meer ( The Bronze Liver of Piacenza. Analysis of a Polytheistic System, Amsterdam, 1987.) While a vast literature has accumulated on the Zagreb liber linteus, including a monograph by Pfiffig (1963), subsequent discoveries have considerably altered the picture, and this is the first recent monograph to collate all the disparate studies, attempting to evaluate dissenting interpretations and offer very brief surveys of what is known about the artifact and the society and mythological/ritual realm it accessed.

Liber linteus : A female mummy purchased in Egypt in 1848-49 by an Austro-Hungarian diplomat came in 1862 to Zagreb. Recent C-14 results suggest the textile may have been woven as early as the 4th c. BC, although (4) there is reason to query this: the inscription, dated by letter forms, was, according to van der Meer (23), “almost certainly written in Perugia or in its region, between c. 200 and 150 BC.” The mummy is probably Late Ptolemaic/1st c. BC (see 5-9 for colorful theories on mechanisms by which an Etruscan book reached Egypt.)

Libri lintei are cited by some ancient authors, and represented in several Etruscan funerary monuments, but this is the only extant fragment. This particular linen book was a very important document, with its specially woven medium and meticulous text in expensive black ink (of burnt ivory) with rubrics and dividers of vermilion (cinnabar), which imply its use during public ceremonies. It may have been part of the documentation of a state cult, referring frequently, as it does, to “the priesthood of the arx, the city, the community” (see below). It is the longest document extant in the Etruscan language, with about 1330 words, but only about 50 major terms (30-40% is lost). The inscription consists of 12 parallel columns separated by wide margins with one additional section, a blank column, treated as a cover. (Citations of the Liber Linteus are by column.line, e.g., LL 5.5.) The single large textile had been cut into horizontal strips to form bandages for the mummy; some strips are entirely missing, and some are badly damaged, although so many lines are formulaic that Helmut Rix ( ET vol. II, 1-8) was able to restore an appreciable amount; van der Meer follows his text. The fragmentary Column 1 had a colophon with the injunction “let it be written” and columns 2 through 12 contain a serial listing of rituals, some dated by months of the year. The separate columns do not coincide with rituals or, apparently, months. (The date 18 June is preserved in Column 6, while 13 August precedes late September in Column 8; it may be that December was in Column 12, leaving January through May to fit into Columns 1 through 5-6. The January-start is another detail indicating a Late Republican date for the text.)

The language is in places very formulaic and repetitive, and often sounds alliterative or even metrical, presumably where the priest would actually be saying aloud the words that are written (e.g. zati zatlchne, 8.13, or male ceia hia etnam ciz vacl aisvale/ male ceia hia trinth etnam ciz ale, 7.3-4). Even long numbers are written out, perhaps a further indication of oral exposition (by someone who did not speak Etruscan daily?), as for instance LL 8.3, celi huthis zathrumis flerchva nethunsl sucri thezeric —”in the month of Cel, on the twenty-sixth, the offerings to Nethuns must be made and immolated” (Bonfante-2, 183 no. 67; in contrast, van der Meer 124: “on 24th September sacrificial victims for Nethuns have to be announced and presented [or slaughtered],” see below for numbers.)

At many points, there are blank lines or sections in the text: why so much unused space on the linen? The clay tablets of the Near East or Aegean, in a cheaper material, still tend to avoid empty/wasted spaces, so were the blanks cues for dramatic presentation? Other details also show preparation for oral recitation: the term vinum“wine” is emphasized at 9.22 (see 130) by dots = v.i.n.u.m. 3 Certainly, the power of the written word was paramount in the etrusca disciplina; like many other permanent inscriptions, the text includes the command zichri cn, “let this be written down” (Bonfante-2: 115; vdM. 48, “has/have to be written”), although as van der Meer notes (45), the Capua, Perugia and other documents instead have the formula at the end, like a signature.

Some discrepancies of spelling and syntax have led scholars to assume that the text was copied at such a late date that Etruscan was not a spoken everyday language, and so the scribe had no innate frame of reference for spelling conventions. The precise “page-setup” of the inscription with red dividers looks as if the single scribe worked from a written model.

The realia of this linen book give hints of the immediacy of its real-life rituals; simply weaving and inscribing it must have been acts of devotion. The textile was at least 3.45 m. in length; as Francesco Roncalli noted ( Scrivere etrusco 22), its original length was 12 Etruscan (Attic-Roman) feet, and it had 12 inscribed pages. The size of the “pages” is curious: the 12 columns of writing, with margins up to 2 cm left between them, would have been approx. 45 cm high and about 26 cm wide (with uniform letter height of 7 mm), about the largest manageable “page” size for normal reading—any larger would have been a poster. Why should an Etruscan cult book have been this size, when it would have had to be specially woven and handled? The artists’ representations of libri lintei seem to fit the same scale. Presumably some original document or religious requirement led to this; or is it merely an ergonomic necessity as the largest size that can be conveniently handled or read aloud?4

A nice touch in this book is in the sequence of the color plates of the 12 inscribed columns of text (reprinted from Scrivere etrusco, at a reduced scale that lets one form an impression of what the original columns looked like, and how much/little of them remains): they run, as Etruscan would be read, from right to left, beginning with Column 1 as the last plate. There is no facsimile of the text, however, only the transcript (160-168); since letter forms are crucial to van der Meer’s dating of the text, it is necessary to consult the drawings of Scrivere etrusco : 26-49 (which are not actual size, either.)

In the LL, rituals are initiated or punctuated with similar refrains, such as “by the sacred priesthood of the arx and by the community of …” (2.n1-2 ff.), and a sort of blessing, “in peace and prosperity” (2.n4 ff.).5 Similar ceremonies are offered to assorted gods (33-36). They range (40-41) from libations of wine (and “new wine”), water or oil to offerings of barley meal and first-fruits, or sacrifice of live victims (perhaps pigs). Some offerings are burned, others placed on the ground or in a variety of special containers.

Methodology (15-16): All possible options for interpretation are brought to bear, from the combinatory method, associating words and phrases with analogs in the text itself and in other texts, to bicultural comparisons with the rituals of neighboring cultures, such as the Iguvine Tables. Etymological comparisons with different languages, clearly indicated for dual texts such as the Pyrgi plaques, are more broadly applied here. The most logical text for comparison is that of the Capua tile, found in a necropolis and possibly one of the libri acherontici; its miniaturized inscription is a different calendar for religious rituals.

Few long Etruscan texts exist (see appendix, 171-178, for samples of the next longest inscriptions, although curiously lacking the epitaph-vita of the priest Lars Pulenas ( CIE 5430, Bonfante-2: 149-151 no. 31). The relevant Iguvine Tables III-IV in Umbrian (and also the Pyrgi inscriptions) are translated into English, but the other inscriptions are only transcribed.) Apart from the formulae of burial or votive dedication, we are in uncharted territory, and should not expect polished translations. It is proper, and no doubt deliberate, that van der Meer did not present a complete, line-by-line English translation—one has to hunt through the commentary (44-159) for individual meanings or suggested interpretations of “strings”—phrases, expressions or combinations of words/formulae. Best not to serve a complete, seamless English document ready for the lazy students or neo-pagan bloggers to cut-and-paste (and misuse). Other mainstream authors have generally eschewed fulsome translations of the LL, and only discuss words or phrases for which secure translation is likely. Works that do offer lengthy “quotes” can greatly exaggerate the state of our understanding for the sake of spurious clarity. The “honest” approach, however, makes for very demanding reading. With so much unusual vocabulary, the book would benefit from a more detailed index or key: the first time a “string” is encountered, it is discussed fully, and often translated; recurring citations are simply referred back to that initial discussion, making the flow of reading very disjointed.

To get the most out of this volume, one needs to be familiar with Etruscan spelling conventions and basic grammar (see Bonfante-2), and be aware that citations of parallels in the text follow the annotations of Rix’s Etruskische Texte (ET) which are indexed by region, type and serial number (e.g the Pyrgi plaques are Cr 4.3 and 4.4, for the region of Caere). Working through the dense commentary makes it hard to see the big picture, but rewards those seeking full grammatical and comparative detail. Some entries have van der Meer’s original, lengthy discussions, and thus further break up the flow, but in a good cause, for instance, the identification of toponyms like the adjective urcheis, possibly the epithet of a god, here (100-102) linked to the region of Siena and medieval locales such as San Quirico d’Orcia.

Rating methods of interpretation: Our usual problem with “technical” literature, like Cato on agriculture or Vitruvius on construction, is that they were not writing with us in mind. Their targeted audience would have been familiar with (in this case literally initiated in) their material, trained in all the little details of performance and belief that we can never know; so we must expect some gaps. Also, there was no acknowledged standard of spelling in this period and thus few “wrong” ways of recording the spoken word. How readily should we assume spelling errors and mistakes (27) in such a text? In some cases, criticism is probably justified and the spelling was merely “phonetic”, as at 3.23 (87) hantec should have been hatec —since it is hatec in the same formula at other locations.) At 4.13 (89), cntram is said to be a mistake for cletram, which could fit the formula, although the author offers an alternate option of cntnam“this same.”

Typos and turns of phrase: Towards a more felicitous English translation, I would suggest “agreement, contract” in place of “deal” used to render Etr. vachr (114); and “appropriate/good/fine” for “nice” (the common Etr. mlach, ordinarily translated “beautiful”). More importantly, in almost all cases, “offer” when used throughout as a noun to render fler (78 at 3.12), should be “offering”; it probably means a bloody offering/sacrificial victim, with added nuances of a set of victims when spelled flerchva.

There are several typographical accidents, most of which should cause no problem for an expert reader. The most serious, caught by the author in the printed text (and kindly shared with me), is at p. 28 line 8 ( LL 6.9) where zathrumsne has been written as “26th” when it should be “20th” (of March?). Elsewhere in the book, the date is always correct. Fortunately, the Etruscan scribe wrote out the words (although we have problems with other cases—see below on “four vs six”. In the index, cela (7.2ff) should be ceia.

At 4.11 (88), the term zusleves is missing its L (which is correctly present in the index and full text, 161). At 4.21 (90) ais cemnach is translated as “O Cemnian god,” but subsequently, at 5.18 (95), 8.16 (128), 10.10 (136) and 9.24 (130- to be corrected from Cimimian)—he is addressed more appropriately “O Ciminian god,” an ethnic/geographic designation (discussed 90-91). At 11.f2 (153), athumica is correct, but the “-a” was omitted from the transcript (167). Page 157, line 2, “Between the words matam en vacltnam” should have “and” rather than Dutch en. Page 62, line 2, should read “plague” rather than “pest” of 364 BC. In the commentary on Column 10 (132) the last two entries ( vacl ar ratum) are actually line 10.4.

In the complete transcript of the LL, “Column VII” should be “Column 7;” it looks as if several times throughout the transcript the lower-case letter “L” was replaced by a numeral 1, or it may appear that way due to spacing adjustment next to Greek letters (e.g. Column 9.2 cilthl). Who among us has not suffered from the word processing program’s attempt to turn foreign terms into good English?

In the bibliography, Piccaluga is out of alphabetical order. Page 103 note 395: “A. Maggiani in M. Pandolfini and A. Maggiani, 2002, 79 n. 5” is not in the bibliography, but is a reference to a remark by A. Maggiani during a conference, recorded in H. Rix, “La seconda metà del nuovo testo di Cortona,” in M. Pandolfini/A. Maggiani, eds., La Tabula Cortonensis e il suo contesto storico-archeologico. Atti dell’Incontro di studio 22 giugno 2001, Quaderni di Archeologia Etrusco-Italica, 28, Rome, 2002, 77-86.

Illustrations, often in color, show objects not otherwise available to demonstrate terms or sources from the text, but some need more detailed captions, for instance, Fig. 11, “urn from Chiusi”: where is it, and how do we locate its vital statistics?

Discrepancies with other translators, commentators: It is indicative of the fragmentary character of evidence for the Etruscan language that multiple variant translations exist for many terms. For example, Bonfante-2 (109) translates rachth tura nunthenth cletram srenchve/ tei fasei ( LL 2.10-11) as “prepare the incense; offer with the decorated cup these loaves.” Van der Meer (67-69): “on the fire(?) (let) give! (keep) offering with/on litter(s) decorated with this oil [the line continues zarfneth zusle —”consecrating a victim,” to which the “oil” then refers.] Others translate tura as incense, the foreign term acquired with the frankincense from the Levant.

Glosses have furnished scholars some of the few solid equivalents for Etruscan words; one is cletram, usually understood as a cult vessel, a dish or tray, but taken by van der Meer as “litter”—since it is often modified by srenchve, “decorated.” The larger object makes more sense in this context than a decorated bowl, especially if it occasionally holds a victim. The kletram of the Iguvine Tables (176, 178) also sounds larger than a vase. Several other vessels are also specified, from “the prochous jug” and “a santi dish” to “a small dish” and “a small cup moreover a muc (mug).”

Even today it seems that some numbers are not certain. At 8.3, “on September 24th, sacrifices for Nethuns” are to be made: “some scholars still use” (124) the other number system of huth = 6 and sar = 4. “Six” is favored by de Simone, Agostiniani, Bonfante and others, “four” by A. Morandi, Nuovi lineamenti di lingua etrusca (Rome, 1991) 82; and D.H. Steinbauer, Neues Handbuch des Etruskischen (St. Katharinen, 1999) 430.

Food for thought: Some aspects of the text become intriguing as one contemplates the assembled translation: why does the terminology of the last few columns/pages (especially Columns 10-12) seem to become increasingly more diverse and abstruse? We can puzzle out many phrases and whole formulaic sentences in the opening “pages” but even the stock formulae “on behalf of the priesthood of the cilth” etc. (used at least 17 times with only slight variations) and ” hathrti repinthic” (10 times) do not occur in Columns 10-12 (or in 6-7) either. This could be due to lacunae, but it seems as if the second half of the book has an altered tone or purpose.

And why does there always seem to be so much funerary imagery in this—and many another—Etruscan text ( LL Col. 7 passim; 11.9-10; 12.7)? This effect is seen in other studies of the LL also. Could it be that we have been overly literal in our readings of the genuine funerary texts of urns and tombs and are applying spurious precision in our comparanda? Or did linen books, like those represented in tombs and urns, have a funerary character that remained in the memory of the people who carried this one to Egypt?

We know little about the creation or dissemination of such texts: the Capua tile is assumed to have been made for a specific (funerary) sanctuary or cult, but this may not be the case for the LL. In its recurring refrains about the city and community ” enas” (49-50, 54-56 = LL 2.n2 and following) it may be creating a generic formula: “the community of whomsoever” (in other words, “fill in name here”). This is a satisfying although somewhat novel interpretation, although other authors differ (e.g. Steinbauer, Neues Handbuch, 417: ena = “jetzt/heute/gegenwärtig”; Bonfante-2: 214-215, enac = “then, afterwards” and enas = genitive of an/in, the pronoun “he, she/it”.)

The LL text clearly (and repeatedly) differentiates between parts or aspects of a human settlement/city: the rituals are on behalf of the arx (cilth), the city (spur) and the community (methlum). Twice, the term ras appears, looking suspiciously like one of the few terms we do know with certainty, rasna/rasenna, which the Etruscans called themselves. Different elements of society are represented also: apparently several categories of priest(hoods), and the social class of the etera, for whom there is still no consensus.6

Another valuable contribution is the discussion (42, 57-60) that assembles all the evidence to illustrate the cisum, apparently a tripartite offering: we know from altars (mostly funerary) with triple recesses, that such a ritual was practiced, and it would be nice to link the artifacts to this word that seems to be derived from ci, “three”. (I would add to the list the altar in bronze-sheathed wood, previously restored as a throne, found in the 7th-c. Regolini-Galassi Tomb at Caere, although it is not certain that it had a triple basin.)

Italic affinities: A disquieting number of terms show close affinities with Italic religious vocabulary, although this might be explained by the late date of the text, after the Etruscan cities had been under Roman control for generations. What do such phenomena tell us about the depth, both social and chronological, of the contacts between Etruscans and the Italic neighbors with whom they shared cults? Van der Meer points out various similarities between Etruscan and Latin ritual: libations seem to be made after the sacrifice or at the end of a ceremony, as in the Umbrian Iguvine Tables (III-IV). While we might expect many aspects of ritual to be common throughout Italy, the unusual term flere in crapsti (83-85, 90) is usually associated with the Iguvine Oak-god also known as Jupiter Grabovius.

Terms include sacni (2.n4), ratum (10.4) “rite”, and vinum“wine”. Why should something that was integral to Etruscan diet and commerce since well back in the Iron Age, and probably before, have needed a non-Etruscan name? (The form of the earliest wine amphorae in both Etruria and Latium-Campania copies the ogival transport amphorae of the Levant, whence the original idea and goods came); the earliest were deposited in Campanian and Latin Iron Age tombs. Hupnis (110, LL 6.16) looks like the term hupni found in tombs, perhaps “resting place” and related to IE hypnos.

Gods (36-39): As with the Piacenza liver and Capua tile, we are troubled by apparent divine names for whom we have no correlates in artistic representations or named sanctuaries or votives. If they are real gods, they are not of the same order as the Olympians and others; nor do their names match such as the Di Involuti of the classical authors. For some, van der Meer offers new or novel interpretations, such as ais cemnac (for Pfiffig, Religio etrusca: 105 “jeden einzelnen Gott”) the Ciminian god, named for the territory of the Ciminian forest and Lago di Vico (90-91, following Steinbauer).

There are gods linked to geographical places or natural phenomena, and others that are personifications or fragmentations of aspects of known deities. Velthina (104-105) is suggested as a god, possibly chthonian, linked to Velathri (Volterra), and thus a theonymic gentilicial term when it appears in the Perugia cippus as one of the family names. The aiser sic seuc (73-74) may be the gods of light and darkness, and farthan (69-73) is “Genius”, whether “of the Dark Gods” or “of the numen of Nethuns, or “of the god who is in crap-.” Thesan is known as Dawn, or as the Thesan of Tin (day/sunrise) and Thesan of the Dark Gods (dusk). Lusa and Lustra (106-107) would match Lynsa sylvestris of Martianus Capella, and other possibles are Lur (97-98) and Zer. Familiar gods include Tin, Nethuns (124-125), Vetis/Veive, Satr (perhaps Saturn) and Uni, noted in a location, Unialthi, “in the sanctuary of Uni.” Adonis (120-121) may be commemorated in a burial festival celebrated at Graviscae and elsewhere, although this is not certain.

A major assumption behind some identifications of gods or cults is that the LL partakes of the doctrine of a 16-sector division of the universe expressed in the Piacenza liver model and the work of Martianus Capella. At times it is suggested that the next god on this cosmic wheel must be the next deity invoked in the calendar, but circumstantial links, such as Nethuns presiding over autumn rains, are reasonable, but cannot be proven. We cannot be sure that the LL reflects all cults in a universal fashion.

We should not forget that the LL was once a coherent text with the equivalent of complete sentences and no question marks after terms, nor should we assume that all issues can be resolved anytime soon. Van der Meer’s interpretations sometimes follow alternative or minority versions (he scrupulously cites all versions), but even if we disagree with individual readings, we now have the framework on which to hang our own, and all subsequent, translations of this text. Much will change, as more inscriptions are discovered, but without this compilation, the Zagreb document would be virtually inaccessible except to a handful of Etruscan linguists, since the amount of analytical scholarship already published is so great, and so difficult to judge. This volume puts the Zagreb liber linteus on the bookshelf with the other major Etruscan inscriptions, making this linguistically and archaeologically unparalleled resource accessible as never before.


1. See entries by various authors on documents, votives, sacrifices, etc. in Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide, ed. S. Iles Johnston, Cambridge MA, 2004; and Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum (ThesCRA), Los Angeles, 2004-on. Works combining literary or epigraphic sources with archaeological and artistic evidence include N. T. de Grummond and E. Simon, eds., The Religion of the Etruscans, Austin, 2006; N.T. de Grummond, Etruscan Myth, Sacred History and Legend, Philadelphia, 2006; J.-R. Jannot, Religion in Ancient Etruria, trans. J. Whitehead, Madison, WI, 2005; F. Gaultier and D. Briquel, eds., Les Étrusques, le plus religieux des hommes. État de la recherche sur la religion étrusque, Paris, 1997; A. Pfiffig, Religio etrusca, Graz, 1975. These, and the work reviewed, have full bibliographies; all acknowledging the groundwork of the indispensable C.O. Thulin, Die etruskische Disziplin, ι Darmstadt 1905-1909 (reprint 1968).

2. Epigraphic sources furnish evidence of votive and funerary cult. In addition to the volumes of Etruscan inscriptions published in the ongoing Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum (CIE), with yearly interim updates in the REE (Rivista Epigraphica Etrusca) published in Studi Etruschi, there is the ET, edited by Helmut Rix et al., Etruskische Texte. Editio minor (2 vols, Tübingen 1991).

3. Similar effects are recorded in a few archaic inscriptions that were probably intended as charms to be recited, e.g. an aryballos in Monte Carlo: mlakas aska mi eleivana (Bonfante-2: 137 no. 9, “I am the unguent-bottle of the beautiful Sela”), or a 7th-c. Caeretan bowl ( ET Cr 2.9) inscribed mi titelas thina mla mlach mlakas — “I am beau- beaut- beautiful Titela’s dinos.”

4. The Capua ceremonial calendar, inscribed on a tile-like slab of terracotta, is actually the size of a roof tile and was probably made in a tile factory, but the linen cloth of the LL is especially large. Why use cloth? Perhaps because it derives from the sphere of women, or simply because it could be used outdoors without damage? A study in progress of Etruscan textiles by Margarita Gleba may one day tell more about the medium of the LL itself. I have wondered about the “page” size of the linen book: is it merely coincidence that it falls close to the “standard” size for sheets of papyrus during the 19th-20th Dynasties in Egypt, when some government texts were 45 or 47 cm high and others ranged from 40-42 cm? The preferred papyri of the Old through New Kingdom were much smaller, for instance, the early New Kingdom medical papyri ( Ebers and Rhind) are 30 and 32 cm, and Demotic papyri (presumably contemporary with the LL) had a standard sheet size, only 14-16 cm wide. See R. Parkinson and S. Quirke, Papyrus, Austin, 1995: 16-19.

5. “In peace and prosperity,” hathrti repinthic — but these formulae together are translated very differently by some scholars: “Be benevolent and bow to the temples of the people, to the cities and districts and hearths” (Bonfante-2: 103). In either case, they are formulae intoned frequently.

6. Two terms appear which may have been paralleled in the Etruscan brontoscopic calendar translated by Cicero’s friend Nigidius Figulus: “living beings” ( sveleri, 2.8, 4.4) and “crops” ( meleri, 4.4, see p. 84), but this cannot be proven since it only survives in a third-hand Byzantine version.