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Institute of Classical Studies


Reading inscriptions and writing Ancient History shows how the work of a group of scholars active in Rome in the middle of the sixteenth century redefined the scope and nature of historical writing.

Fascinated by the remains of the Classical world and particularly by inscriptions in stone, they began to collect and compare inscriptions, creating systems of classification and ways of representing their finds that shaped all subsequent attempts to do the same. They then began to question the value of inscriptions as historical sources and realised that by looking at them as objects B rather than simply as texts written on a particular durable medium B, they could extract more information, particularly when they examined the variations in styles of lettering. Their work laid the foundations of the modern discipline of epigraphy. But their insights had wider effects: by exploring how artefacts could provide historical information, they expanded the range of sources and subjects that historians could tackle.

Reading inscriptions and writing Ancient History provides a history of the individuals involved and the dynamics of their interactions. It also explores the effects of the developing technology of printing on their methods of analysis and presentation and so informs important strands in the history of ideas and the history of the book.

It is essential reading for Classical scholars for students of early modern history and all those interested in the Classical tradition.