The language of the Classical-era Libyco-Berber inscriptions of North Africa is transparently related to modern Berber, and the alphabet was deciphered well over a century ago; yet most of the inscriptions available are so short that little progress has been made since Fevrier (1953) concluded that the meanings of only 10 words were securely known. However, the reconstruction of Berber historical phonetics and subgrouping has advanced considerably in this period, suggesting new avenues for extracting information. After explaining the history of Libyco-Berber, the basis for its decipherment so far, and the obstacles standing in its way, this talk examines the question of how Libyco-Berber compares to historical reconstruction on the basis of modern Berber varieties.
The pdf version of the slides can be downloaded here.
After Bonaparte's military expedition, Egypt became the destination of many travellers and antiquarians. The latter were interested in carrying out excavations to find buried treasures and in copying hieroglyphic inscriptions and reliefs, in the hope of achieving the decipherment of the ancient writing system. Funded mainly by the diplomats of France and Great Britain, a large number of draughtsmen and antiquity seekers worked with zeal, passion and many efforts in what is the so-called "War of the Consuls". Among them, Alessandro Ricci, a young Tuscan physician, is an outstanding personality. Between 1817 and 1822 he dedicated himself to epigraphy. Working with astonishing precision, he left faithful copies of ancient reliefs and inscriptions now lost. In Nubia only between 1810 and 1818 thirteen entire temples were destroyed; often the work of Ricci represents the only reliable source for these buildings. This lecture would like to analyse his epigraphic work in order to restore some of the ancient texts now lost, considering the long process of the decipherment of the hieroglyphics and the importance of 19th century sources for Egyptology.
The relevance of Syriac lies in its long history, continuing up to the present, in its diffusion and influence all over Asia and in its importance as the language in which a great theological output came to life. In this seminar we will sketch the main lines of the development of this script, which led to a wide graphic articulation; we will provide a short overview of some inscriptions witnessing to earliest stages of the script, and of the online resources on which scholars can currently rely for the study of the language.