In the before times, when I could travel and had something to travel to, I visited Bologna. In their museum of antiquity I saw this funerary stele. Judging by the clothing and style I would date it around 150-250 CE. The soldier wears boots not sandals, his tunic has long sleeves, and his belt is narrow and not covered with brass or silver plaques. At first I was amused by the soldier’s very Celtic moustache in one of the cities where the Romans did their best to eliminate the native Celtic population. A little research showed an unexpected story!
“‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?
Jeremiah 8:8 New International Version
The ancient world was a long time ago, but even in antiquity it was often hard to know what happened in the ancient world. With no trusted neutral institutions to establish facts, and no way of making many identical copies of a text or a speech, the curious had no reliable way to decide between competing claims by different interested parties. Already in antiquity, clever people turned to old writing painted on wood or carved on stone. But dishonest people realized that they could destroy or alter awkward inscriptions and forge new ones. Greeks, Romans, and Babylonians show us how this worked.
In the early Roman Empire, it was fashionable for wealthy soldiers to put up a stone with an inscription and their portrait at their tomb. Two such soldiers were Quintus and Lucius Sertorius, who erected their monuments at Cisolino (about 10 miles east of Verona) sometime in the late first century CE. The slab at... Continue reading: The Monuments of the Sertorii