• Part of
    Ubiquity Network logo
    Contact us Submit a book proposal

    Read Chapter
  • No readable formats available
  • Priests, oxen and the Indo-European taxonomy of wealth in the Iguvine Tables

    Nicholas Zair

    Chapter from the book: Larsson, J et al. 2024. Indo-European Interfaces: Integrating Linguistics, Mythology and Archaeology.

    Buy Paperback

    The Iguvine Tables are seven bronze tablets from Iguvium (modern-day Gubbio) in Italy, dating from between the late third to late second or early first century BC. They are written in Umbrian, a Sabellic language, and record the rituals and acts of a group of priests, known as the Atiedian brotherhood. In this chapter I will focus on the word arsmo and its derivatives, which are attested in a number of contexts. In general, arsmo has been translated as something like like ‘rites, rituals’, or ‘priests, magistrates’, which is largely a guess based on its appearance in contexts of formulae like the following: nerf. arsmo. ueiro pequo. castruo. fri. pihatu. ‘purify the magistrates, arsmo, men, cattle, heads (of corn?), crops’. I argue that arsmo should be understood as the Umbrian equivalent of Latin armenta ‘herds of (large) cattle’, and that this formula is an expanded version of a well-attested Indo-European merism which represents the types of mobile wealth *u̯iHro- pek̑u- ‘men and cattle’; in this case each member has been subject to a doubling. The first member has been divided into nerf ‘magistrates, upper class men’, and ueiro ‘(other) men’, and the second into arsmo ‘large cattle’ and pequo ‘small cattle’. Derivatives of arsmo are found in arsmahamo ‘form up into groups’ and in perca arsmatiam ‘cowherd’s staff’. The latter is part of the equipment of the Umbrian augur, suggesting that the Atiedian brothers, like Roman and Etruscan augurs, carried a crook which was originally the equipment of an animal herder.

    Chapter Metrics:

    How to cite this chapter
    Zair, N. 2024. Priests, oxen and the Indo-European taxonomy of wealth in the Iguvine Tables. In: Larsson, J et al (eds.), Indo-European Interfaces. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bcn.l

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

    Peer Review Information

    This book has been peer reviewed. See our Peer Review Policies for more information.

    Additional Information

    Published on June 11, 2024


    comments powered by Disqus