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date: 29 November 2022

tabulae Iguvinaefree

tabulae Iguvinaefree

  • Michael Weiss


  • Linguistics

Updated in this version

Text and bibliography updated to reflect current scholarship. Keywords added.

At Gubbio (Iguvium; see umbrians) were discovered, in 1444, seven bronze tablets of varying sizes (the largest measure 86 x 56.5 cm, or 33 x 22 inches, the smallest 40 x 28 cm or 16 x 12 inches), engraved on one or both sides with Umbrian texts, partly in the native alphabet (normally transcribed in bold), partly in the Latin alphabet. These are the famous Iguvine Tables. They range in date probably from c. 200 bce to the early 1st century bce and are the main source of our knowledge of Umbrian (see Sabellic languages).

Figure 1. The seven Iguvine Tables on display in Gubbio.

Photo by Sailko, Creative Commons License, CC BY 3.0.

The texts contain the proceedings and liturgy of a brotherhood of priests, the frater atiersiur [Atiedian Brethren], not unlike the Roman arval brethren (see fratres arvales). The name is clearly to be linked with atiieřiate (dat. sg.), the name of one of the social groupings within Iguvine society; it had two subdivisions, which may correspond to two gentes mentioned in rituals as having sacrifices performed on their behalf (petruniaper natine, vuçiiaper natine).

The ceremonies include the purification of the ocre fisiu (dat. sg., often taken as “the Fisian mount,” but probably the actual name of the city of Iguvium), in which sacrifice is offered to the triad Jupiter Grabovius (iuue grabouei dat. sg.), Mars Grabovius (marte grabouei dat. sg.), and Vofion(us) Grabovius (uofione grabouie dat. sg.; cf. the Roman triad Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus) before the three gates of the city and to Trebus Iovius (trebo iouie dat. sg.), Fisus Sancius (fiso sansie dat. sg. or fisoui sans̀i voc. sg., cf. Lat. Dius Fidius, Sancus), and Tefer Jovius (tefrei ioui dat. sg.) behind the three gates of the city; the lustration of the poplom(acc. sg.) of Iguvium (the army, the original meaning of Lat. populus), in which sacrifice is offered to the triad Çerfus Martius (s̀erfe martie dat. sg., on phonological and theological grounds not to be connected with Lat. Ceres), Prestota Çerfia of Çerfus Martius (prestote s̀erfie dat. sg. s̀erfer martier gen. sg.), and Torsa Çerfia of Çerfus Martius (turses̀erfie dat. sg. s̀erfer martier gen. sg.; these and other double names probably mark functional or ideological connections rather than genealogical relationships), and a threefold circuit of the assembled poplom is made (cf. the Roman lustratio, in which sacrifice was offered to Mars with its threefold circuit); sacrifices in the event of the commission of a ritual fault offered to Vestiçius Sancius (vestiçe saçe dat. sg.), Jupiter (iuvepatre dat. sg.), Iovius (iuvie dat. sg.), Dicamnus Jovius (tikamne iuvie dat. sg.), Ahtus Jupiter (ahtu iuvip abbreviated dat. sg.), and Ahtus Mars (ahtu marti dat. sg.); a sacrifice of a puppy on behalf of the petrunia natine to Hondus (cf. Greek χθόνιος‎, and see chthonian gods) Jovius (hunte iuvie dat. sg.); sacrifices at the festival on behalf of the fameřias of the Iguvine people offered to Jupiter and Sancius (saçi dat. sg.); a procession through the fields to a grove where sacrifice is made to Jupiter, to Puemu (or Puemunus) Pupřikus (puemune pupřike dat. sg.), and to Vesuna of Puemun(us) Puprikus (vesune puemunes pupřiçes), possibly as part of a new year festival. In scope, content, and antiquity the Iguvine Tables surpass all other documents for the study of Italic religion (see religion, italic) even though the interpretation of many passages remains uncertain. In many details, they show resemblance to Roman ritual and cult, but such analogies must be used with extreme caution.


  • Devoto, Giacomo. Tabulae Iguvinae.. 3rd ed. Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 1962.
  • Poultney, James Wilson. The Bronze Tables of Iguvium. Baltimore: American Philological Association, 1959.
  • Prosdocimi, Aldo. Le Tavole Iguvine 1 (1984); 2 (2015). Florence: Leo S. Olschki.
  • Weiss, Michael. Language and Ritual in Sabellic Italy. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010.