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Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum

Front cover of the first edition

The Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum ("Corpus of Semitic Inscriptions", abbreviated CIS) is a collection of ancient inscriptions in Semitic languages produced since the end of 2nd millennium BC until the rise of Islam. It was published in Latin. In a note recovered after his death, Ernest Renan stated that: "Of all I have done, it is the Corpus I like the most."[1]

The first part was published in 1881, fourteen years after the beginning of the project. Renan justified the fourteen year delay in the preface to the volume, pointing to the calamity of the Franco-Prussian war and the difficulties that arose in the printing the Phoenician characters, whose first engraving was proven incorrect in light of the inscriptions discovered subsequently.[2] A smaller collection – Répertoire d'Épigraphie Sémitique ("Repertory of Semitic Epigraphy", abbreviated RES) – was subsequently created to present the Semitic inscriptions without delay and in a deliberately concise way as they became known, and was published in French rather than Latin. The Répertoire was for the Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum what the Ephemeris epigraphica latina was for the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.

The publication of the series continued until 1962.

History and scope

The project began on April 17, 1867 when the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres accepted the proposal of a commission led by Ernest Renan to begin an initiative similar to German corpora of ancient Latin and Greek Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum (CIG), and Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL). The Academy considered that as a French institution it was best placed to collate the whole of Semitic epigraphy, due to France's then domination of North Africa, its historic relations with Egypt, Syria, and Greece, the numerous Semitic monuments in French museums, and the number of leading French Semitic scholars including Jean-Jacques Barthélemy who first deciphered the Phoenician script.[3]

It was decided that the collection should contain all the ancient inscriptions written in "Semitic characters", excluding the Semitic cuneiform inscriptions and other scripts from the same regions.[4] The time period was unlimited on the furthest age of the incriptions, whereas the nearest age was to be limited by the beginning of standardized epigraphy of medieval Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac.[5] It was to include all known inscriptions, engraved stones, coins and papyri, along with selected specimens of particularly important later manuscripts.[6]

The original plan of the work to produce ten books:

The program was then divided into five parts, based on the dividing names used in Semitic palaeography. Within each part it was to be subdivided based on geographic location:[7]

  • Part I. Phoenician, Punic and neo-Punic inscriptions;
  • Part II. Aramaic, Palmyra, Nabatean inscriptions;
  • Part III. Hebrew inscriptions;
  • Part IV. Himyaritic, Sabaean;
  • Part V. Saracen, Lihyan, Safaitic and Thamudic.

The Répertoire d'Épigraphie Sémitique (abbreviated RES) published inscriptions during intermediate periods.

Volumes

Corpus Inscriptionum ab Academia Inscriptionum et Litterarum Humaniorum conditum atque Digestum. Parisiis: E Reipublicae Typographeo, 1881-1962

Part I. Phoenician, Punic and neo-Punic inscriptions. This series brought together the Phoenician inscriptions found in Phoenicia itself, in Cyprus, in Egypt, in Greece, in Malta, in Sicily, in Sardinia, in Italy, in Gaul, in Spain, and in particular the vast number of North African Punic inscriptions, particularly from Carthage. Renan continued to edit this series until his death in 1892.[8]

Description (text) Tabulae (images)
Tomus Fasc. Year Link Inscriptions Pages Year Link Inscriptions Tables
1 1 1881 Link I 1-164 p. 1-216 1881 Link I 1-437 I-XIV
2 1883 1883 XV-XXXVI
3 1885 p. 217-456 1885 XXXVII-XLIX
4 1887 1887 L-LVII
2 1 1890 Link I 438-906 p. 1-112 1890 I 438-918 I-XI
2 1899 Link I 906-1901 p. 113-272 1899 Link I 919-1899 XII-XXXVI
3 1908 Link I 1902-2592 p. 273-416 1908 Link I 1902-2603 XXXVII-LIV
4 1911 Link I 2593-3251 p. 417-583 1911 LV-LXVIII
3 1 1926 p. 1-160 1926 Link I 3252-3905 I-XXIII
2 1947 I 3915-5260 p. 161-400 1952 XXIV-LXXXIX
3 1962 p. 401-537 1962 I 4013-6000[9] XC-CXVIII

Part II. Aramaic, Palmyra, Nabatean inscriptions. Edited by Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé, this series began publication in 1889, covering the territory of the ancient Syrian kingdoms, as well as all the countries where Aramaic penetrated under the Persian empire, from Anatolia to the India, from the Caspian to Upper Egypt.[8]

Description (text) Tabulae
Tomus Fasc. Year Link Inscriptions Pages Year Link Inscriptions Tables
1 1 1889 Link II 1-149 p. 1-168 1889 Link II 1-1471 I-XIX
2 1893 Link II 150-348 p. 169-304 1893 XX-XLIV
3 1902 Link II 349-1471 p. 305-489 1902 XLV-CVI
2 1 1907 Link II 1472-3233 p. 1-215 1906 Link II 1472-3233 I-LXX
2
3 1 1926 p. 1-336 1951 Link 3901-4211 I-XXXIII
2 1947 p. 337-484 1954 XXXIV-LXIII


Part III. Hebrew inscriptions; this series was not published. However, a number of Hebrew inscriptions were systematically published in the Répertoire d'Épigraphie Sémitique.

Part IV. Himyaritic, Sabaean. This volume, first published in 1889, was edited by Joseph Derenbourg. It covers the Arabian Peninsula, particularly the Himyarite and Sabean inscriptions.[8]

Description (text) Tabulae
Tomus Fasc. Year Link Inscriptions Pages Year Link Inscriptions Tables
1 1 1889 Link IV 1-362 p. 1-448 1889 Link IV 1-362 I-XII
2 1892 1892 XIII-XVIII
3 1900 1900 XIX-XXVII
4 1908 1908 XXVIII-XLII
2 1 1911 p. 1-91 1911 Link IV 363-412 I-VII
2 1914 1914 Link IV 413-491 VIII-XVII
3 1920 p. 193-300 1920 Link IV 492-595 XVIII-XXXV
4 1920 p. 301-390
3 1 1929 p. 1-219 1930 Link IV 596-928 XXXVI-LII
2 1931 p. 219-376 1932 IV 930-985 LIII-LIX


Part V. Saracen, Lihyan, Safaitic and Thamudic; this series was not published until 1950, by Gonzague Ryckmans[10]

  • Pars 5, Tomus 1, Fasc 1: (1950) p. 1-656 (Tabulae 1951, I-CIII)

Répertoire d'Épigraphie Sémitique

  • Volume 1: Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum (1900–05) [= inscriptions RES 1-500] under the direction of Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, as assistant to Jean-Baptiste Chabot
  • Volume 2: Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum (1907–14) [= RES 501-1200] edited by Jean-Baptiste Chabot
  • Volumes 3-8 were edited by Jean-Baptiste Chabot until his death in 1948, then Jacques Ryckmans until the last volume in 1968.

Leadership

List of presidents of the "Commission du Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum":[11]

Gallery

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Willemetz Geneviève, Sciences et techniques autour d'Ernest Renan. In: Études Renaniennes, N°84, 2e trimestre 1991. pp. 3-5: "De tout ce que j'ai fait, c'est le Corpus que j'aime le mieux"
  2. ^ Pars 1, Tomus 1, p.XI-XII: "Neque hos viros culpandos facilius credas quod inde ab anno 1867, inter opus decretum et inceptum, anni quatuordecim, grande mortalis ævi spatium, intercesserunt. Hoc enim temporis intervallo, quæ patriæ clades, qui civiles tumultus, quæ rerum novarum cæca exspectatio! Porro ea fuit operis hujus conditio, ut cultius auctiusque prodire magis oporteret quant festinantius in publicum emitti. Neque vero nos culpæ, si qua est, pœnitet, quandoquidem operi instituto mora plus boni quant detrimenti altulit..."
  3. ^ CIS, Preface, page VI: "Par sa domination dans une partie de l'Afrique; par ses relations scientifiques avec l'Egypte, la Syrie, la Grece; par les nombreux monuments d'ecriture semitique quelle poss&de deja dans ses musees; par les missions ou voyages que des savants framjais ont racemment accomplis; par les etudes suivies qui, depuis quelques annees, ont ete faites chez nous sur des monuments ecrits de l'Orient semitique, la France semble designee pour donner un tel recueil au monde savant. Un tel recueil, d'un autre cote, doit etre mis au-dessus des causes d'interruption qui frappent toutes les oeuvres individuelles; il doit itre confie a une Compagnie savante ayant des traditions et de la continuite. La Compagnie qui a poss6d£ dans son sein l'illustre fondateur de ces 6tudes, I'abb6 Barthelemy, est pour cela naturellement designee."
  4. ^ CIS, Preface, pages VI-VII: "En ce quiconcerne le plan de l'ouvrage, votre commission a pense que le recueil devait contenir tous les textes anciens en langues semitiques ecrits en caracteres s&nitiques. L'ecriture serait ainsi la loi du recueil et en constituerait l'unite. Ni les inscriptions cuneformes, ni les inscriptions chypriotes, ni les inscriptions libyques (berbdres, touaregs), ni les inscriptions de 1'Asie Mineure (lyciennes, phrygiennes, etc), ni les restes d'ancienne ecriture zende, pehlvie, arienne, ne devraient, daprfjs ce principe, £tre admis dans 1'ouvrage."
  5. ^ CIS, Preface, page VII: "Le Corpus en question devra sans doute etre reserve aux textes anciens; il ne contiendra pas les innombrables textes arabes, hebreux, syriaques du moyen Age ou de ces derniers siecles. L'islamisme, dans un sens general, sera la date a laquelle il faudra s'arreter, l'islamisme marquant dans l'histoire des peuples, des langues et des ecritures semitiques, une epoque tout a fait tranchee. Une telle date, cependant, ne devra pas 6tre prise trop a la rigueur. Les monuments de l'ecriture mendaite sont tous posterieurs a l'hegire, et cependant ils ne sauraient 6tre omis dans un tableau de la paleographie semitique. Les plus anciens manuscrits h^breux et beaucoup d'inscriptions hebraiques posterieures a Mahomet devront etre pris en consideration. On en peut dire autant des inscriptions ethiopiennes et de quelques specimens d'ecriture syriaque. Enfin, les monuments arabes des premiers temps de l'hegire (monnaies, tesseres, manuscrits d'Asselin, papyrus, etc), ont un si grand interet pour la paleographie et se rattachent d'une facon si directe a l'epigraphie du Hauran, du Sinai, de l'Irak , qu'on ne saurait les negliger dans un ouvrage qui se propose de donner tous les documents pour l'histoire de l'alphabet semitique. Nous pensons qu'il ne faudrait sarr&ter qu'au moment ou l'epigraphie et la numismatique arabes, par la fixation d^finitive de l'6criture coufique, arrivent a une forme en quelque sorte classique et arrfitee. En d'autres termes, nous croyons qu'ici encore il faudrait proc<5der par exclusion et ne mettre dans le recueil que ce qui n'est ni l'6pigraphie arabe proprement dite, ni l'epigraphie assez uniforme des Juifs et des Syriens du moyen age."
  6. ^ CIS, Preface, pages VII-VIII: "Pour les manuscrits, il est clair que des r&gles k part sont commandees. Lorsquil s'agit des inscriptions, des pierres gravees, des monnaies, des papyrus, aucun choix parmi les textes ne peut etre fait. Tous les monuments doivent etre publtes, et publies integralement. Quant aux manuscrits, il ne peut &tre question ni de publier tous ceux qui sont d'une bonne antiquite, ni, en supposant qu'on fasse un choix, de reproduire d'un bout a l'autre ceux que l'on aurait choisis. D'un autre cote, l'ouvrage que nous concevons, aspirant a preenter tous les mat^riaux pour 1'histoire de l'ecriture semitique, ne saurait omettre des documents aussi importants que certains manuscrits syriaques, les manuscrits arabes d'Asselin, quelques manuscrits samaritains et meine hebreux. — II semble qu'en preentant, dans l'introduction de chaque livre, ou dans des excursus a la suite, des specimens des plus anciens manuscrits, on satisferait a ces necessites opposles. Le lecteur aurait sous les yeux tous les rapprochements utiles, et la loi générale de l'ouvrage, qui est, selon l'usage des recueils épigraphiques, de ne faire aucune exclusion parmi les textes à publier, serait inviolablement maintenue."
  7. ^ CIS, Preface, pages VII-VIII: "Les divisions de l'ouvrage seraient cells de la paléographie sémitique elle-même. La géographie fournirait les sous-divisions. Voici un tableau provisoire qui put donner une idée de la manière dont ces différentes divisions pourraient être coordonnées entre elles."
  8. ^ a b c Dupont-Sommer, 1968, p.543
  9. ^ Tab. XC-CXVIII. Not systematically photographed or organized
  10. ^ Irvine, A. (1970). Obituary: Gonzague Ryckmans. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 33(2), 374-377. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/613015
  11. ^ Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, CORPUS INSCRIPTIONUM SEMITICARUM CABINET Archived 2022-03-05 at the Wayback Machine

References

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Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum
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