Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean

A critical guide to electronic resources


- first half of the 4th B.C. - first half of the 1st centuries B.C.

Online resources

Web sites of general interest

  1. Wikipedia - Osci
    Page of the Italian Wikipedia, which offers a sufficiently valid outline of the Oscan people and also gives some bibliographical indications.
  2. Herentas' key
    Tourist site with detailed information drawn from the site of the town of Tufillo about the archaeological discovery commonly called "Herentas' key" (represented by a key with an Oscan inscription on it) which was found in the territory of Tufillo.
  3. Wikipedia - Oscan language
    Page on Italian Wikipedia on the Oscan language, with history, classification, elements of phonology, information on the inscriptions, bibliography and links with some mini-dictionaries of Oscan and sites containing summary reports of the alphabetic symbols of Oscan in different graphic variations.
  4. The Samnites
    Site made under the patronage of the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Molise, which, although not updated recently, offers a broad view on the Samnites, with particular sections on the people, religion, language, weapons and so on, all with an ample bibliography.
    Site in Portuguese which contains general information on Oscan, elements of phonology, information about inscriptions. There is also an interesting table comparing the symbols of the Etruscan, Campano and Sabine alphabets, and a mini-glossary for the Oscan language.
  6. Temples and sacred places
    Amateur website in Italian which is quite interesting and full of curiosities although not all the sections are updated on a regular basis and are well functioning. The site is divided into three parts (Archaeology, Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy). The most interesting and maintained is Archaeoastronomy which, besides a list of the workshops and the cultural activities organised by S.I.A. (Società Italiana di Archeoastronomia), includes the section “Sacred buildings of the past” in which there are peculiar insights on the sacred places in ancient Italy and on the temples of the peoples of Oscan language concerning the relationship between astronomy and building orientation.
    Amateur site, quite well made especially in the bibliographic section and very useful for information about the Samnites.
    Site in English offering a very general view of the Oscan language besides a table of alphabet letters, the apograph of an important epigraph from Pompeii and other links.
  9. Hypotheses on the Oscan lexicon
    Word list in Oscan accompanied by a number of possible translations, both in Italian and in English, the editor of which is unknown. The different translations result from many possible hypotheses derived by the Oscan current knowledge but they are neither certain nor unambiguous. The link is meant to give an idea of a possible Oscan lexicon.

Online documents

  1. Didramma da Nuceria
    Amateur site, rather inaccurate, which contains the photo of a didramma found in Nuceria, with a coin legend in Oscan characters on both the front and the back giving information about Nuceria.
  2. Article by Cesare Letta
    Article by Cesare Letta on the links among the Italic peoples after an examination made on the basis of Origines by Cato. This article contains a very rich bibliography of historical, archaeological and linguistic nature on the Italic people.
  3. Article by Ugo Fantasia
    Article by Ugo Fantasia in which the relations between Sicily and people speaking Oscan are evident.
  4. Istituto di Studi Atellani
    Amateur site of an institute founded by Prof Sosio Capasso, an admirer of the territory of ancient Atella. Aside from the real scientificity of the contents, the site has the advantage of offering a number of curiosities about the Campania area, especially about ager atellanus. It also offers pdf versions of both a number of ancient sources that are directly or indirectly related to Campania and works by amateurs on the Atellan and neighbouring territories. Slightly more interesting among the latter is the work of Prof Capasso himself, which makes a careful and sometimes personal excursus of the Oscan-speaking population using direct and indirect sources, from those of ancient historians and geographers, widely mentioned, to modern historians and archaeologists. There is particular attention given to linguistics in the perspective of the phonetic, morphological and lexical peculiarities which are still present in the dialects in the South of Italy. Beyond the personal interpretation, the work is interesting because it gives a broad overview of this population and an important, even though dated, bibliography. The pdf linked here is the work “Gli Osci nella Campania antica”.

Institutions, centers for study and research

  1. Titus
    Titus (acronym for Thesaurus Indogermanischer Text- und Sprachmaterialien) is a website dedicated to Indo-European languages in general and presents a bibliography on Italic linguistics as well as some examples of texts written in Oscan and in Umbrian. In addition, you can download free fonts for these languages and it offers some interesting hyperlinks.
  2. Project on the Constitutions of ancient Italy in the pre-Roman age
    ARCAIT - ARchivio delle Costituzioni Antiche in ITalia - is the upgraded version of the website FWF, funded by the Austrian Institute "Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung" and dealing with the Constitutions of ancient Italy in the pre-Roman age. The old site offered a rich bibliographic selection concerning the constitutions, the courts, the political institutions and the communities of ancient Italy as far as they can be rebuilt starting from the epigraphic data. This upgraded version contains both additional sections and further documents which can be consulted. ARCAIT is now an interdisciplinary tool for bibliographic research, study and in depth information on the political and constitutional history of the communities in ancient Pre-Roman and Roman Italy and Sicily (about 8th century BC - 4th century AD). The site is structured into three sections (bibliographic, documentary and image archives) which include a modern bibliography (more than 9000 titles), literary and epigraphic documentation and images (photos and maps) about the communities of ancient Italy and Sicily on specific historical, political and institutional topics. The project is housed at the Institute of Roman Law of the University of Vienna and continues to be directed by Prof. Loredana Cappelletti.


  1. Samnitium
    Site of Samnite Archaeology by G. De Benedittis offering updates on some issues concerning Sannio and Samnite archaeology. Where there are the words "WRITE IN SANNITA", there is also the possibility to download the font to write in Oscan alphabet.
  2. Oscan inscriptions
    The site, although it presents comments containing interpretative conjectures of the documents and slightly dated conclusions, has the merit of showing a fairly good gallery of famous inscriptions in Oscan with historical information, photographs, transcriptions, interpretive conjectures and bibliography.

Museums and collections

  1. museoarcheologiconazionale.campaniabeniculturali - Epigraphic collection
    Official site of the National Archaeological Museum in Naples with an important epigraphic collection, including a number of documents in Oscan language.


  1. Bibliography on Samnites
    Ample and precise bibliographical review compiled by the Historical Association of Medio Volturno from Piedimonte Matese (CE), and in this particular case by the member Mario Nassa, showing a bibliography of the Medio Volturno area which is integrated with national and foreign texts referring to the entry word Samnites.
  2. Bibliography on magistratures and political institutions of Italic peoples
    Large, diverse and rich site edited by the researcher Loredana Cappelletti where there are several references to the Italic Institutions and Judiciaries in general and, in the long list of items, you can also find specific publications on the Institutions of ancient Italy in several languages and in connection with the populations which inhabited Italy more than two thousand years ago.