The Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions Project

Beginners Guide to Latin Inscriptions

This is a catalogue of the Latin inscriptions in the Ashmolean. It makes the whole corpus available to researchers and offers a range of guided paths for anyone who wants to learn more about the ancient world. You can use the search function to explore the collection.

When we think of Latin inscriptions we tend to imagine carved stones which are heavy, grey and unintelligible to most people. But not all Latin inscriptions are like this. At the Ashmolean, we have a diverse set of objects ranging from delicate golden glasswork to humble manufacturers' marks on fragments of bricks.

The most exciting thing about the Latin inscriptions is what their words can tell us about the ancient past. They were often written by people who aren't recorded in the history books. They can tell us poignant personal stories or fill in fascinating details in our understanding of bigger topics. You can find out more about the range of objects covered by the project on our Featured Objects page.

Reading inscriptions is not always straightforward. For example, an inscribed object may have been damaged, making some letters difficult or impossible to read, or even missing altogether. To make clear the unique content and condition of each inscription, this catalogue uses epigraphic conventions.