The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania

Sabratha, fragments of marble panels found in the vaults of the Capitolium (WP[PHP]-IRT-CS.217.2.Leica)

The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania (IRT) represent one of the most remarkable photographic series in the John Bryan Ward-Perkins Collection. This extraordinary visual account of Libyan inscriptions was patiently collected and assembled by John Bryan Ward-Perkins (1912-1981), to accompany readings of the texts by Joyce Reynolds (1918- ), generously assisted by Richard Goodchild (1918-1968). The resultant publication, which appeared with exemplary promptness in 1952, was the Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania. The extensive correspondence preserved in the Administrative Archive is testimony to the huge endeavour undertaken by both scholars in the spirit of encouraging international collaboration in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The IRT Series is made up of nearly 1,200 photographic silver gelatin prints glued onto 284 cards (37 x 28 cm) and arranged according to the numbers assigned to each inscription in the 1952 publication. As noted there, the majority of the photographs were held by the Antiquities Department at that time (Soprintendenza alle Antichità e agli Scavi) and by the British School at Rome, respectively cited as Sopr. and BSR. Whilst we are sure about the dates of the BSR photographs, taken between 1946 and 1953, and most of which have been inventoried by date and by a 35 mm stripe number, we know very little about the chronological references of the images belonging to the Antiquities Department. Often a single photograph may depict more than one inscription or piece of inscription, and therefore browsing through physical objects – the photographs glued on cards and the paper publication – turns out to be completely different from what readers and users can achieve by accessing the same items on a digital platform.

The BSR is thus delighted to present the online publication of the first set of photographs (302 images as well as 80 cards) marking the longstanding collaboration with the Society for Libyan Studies and many other scholars and contributors over eighty years. The remaining three sets of images will be published in the forthcoming months.

The images and records from the IRT Series are linking up to a new enhanced digital edition of the IRT launched in January 2022, IRT2021, as well as to the Society for Libyan Studies Gazetteer. The digital leap that has brought us here is also due to that spirit of partnership which still endures and has been maintained thanks to the enthusiasm and encouragement of Professor Charlotte Rouechè (ORCID), with whom the BSR has been collaborating since 2009 for the first digital edition of the IRT. We hope that these collaborative projects will continue to develop in the future in order to connect the digital archives of the BIRIs on line.

This project would not have been possible without the financial support of the British Academy. Thanks are also due to Roberta Cascino, BSR Research Fellow, for the initial steps and to the Library and Archive staff of the BSR.

The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania

Sabratha, fragments of marble panels found in the vaults of the Capitolium (WP[PHP]-IRT-CS.217.2.Leica)

The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania (IRT) represent one of the most remarkable photographic series in the John Bryan Ward-Perkins Collection. This extraordinary visual account of Libyan inscriptions was patiently collected and assembled by John Bryan Ward-Perkins (1912-1981), to accompany readings of the texts by Joyce Reynolds (1918- ), generously assisted by Richard Goodchild (1918-1968). The resultant publication, which appeared with exemplary promptness in 1952, was the Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania. The extensive correspondence preserved in the Administrative Archive is testimony to the huge endeavour undertaken by both scholars in the spirit of encouraging international collaboration in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The IRT Series is made up of nearly 1,200 photographic silver gelatin prints glued onto 284 cards (37 x 28 cm) and arranged according to the numbers assigned to each inscription in the 1952 publication. As noted there, the majority of the photographs were held by the Antiquities Department at that time (Soprintendenza alle Antichità e agli Scavi) and by the British School at Rome, respectively cited as Sopr. and BSR. Whilst we are sure about the dates of the BSR photographs, taken between 1946 and 1953, and most of which have been inventoried by date and by a 35 mm stripe number, we know very little about the chronological references of the images belonging to the Antiquities Department. Often a single photograph may depict more than one inscription or piece of inscription, and therefore browsing through physical objects – the photographs glued on cards and the paper publication – turns out to be completely different from what readers and users can achieve by accessing the same items on a digital platform.

The BSR is thus delighted to present the online publication of the first set of photographs (302 images as well as 80 cards) marking the longstanding collaboration with the Society for Libyan Studies and many other scholars and contributors over eighty years. The remaining three sets of images will be published in the forthcoming months.

The images and records from the IRT Series are linking up to a new enhanced digital edition of the IRT launched in January 2022, IRT2021, as well as to the Society for Libyan Studies Gazetteer. The digital leap that has brought us here is also due to that spirit of partnership which still endures and has been maintained thanks to the enthusiasm and encouragement of Professor Charlotte Rouechè (ORCID), with whom the BSR has been collaborating since 2009 for the first digital edition of the IRT. We hope that these collaborative projects will continue to develop in the future in order to connect the digital archives of the BIRIs on line.

This project would not have been possible without the financial support of the British Academy. Thanks are also due to Roberta Cascino, BSR Research Fellow, for the initial steps and to the Library and Archive staff of the BSR.