From 19th-21st June 2012, I was lucky enough to attend the Fifth Annual Practical Epigraphy Workshop at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. This highly informative workshop, organised by the British Epigraphy Society, gave participants the opportunity to study the practical side of reading inscriptions and allowed us to fully grasp the work that goes into performing an autopsy on a stone.
On the first day the 18 participants were split into two groups and taught about making squeezes by Charles Crowther and given the chance to make one for ourselves, which is something few students have had the opportunity to do. Next we were taught how to draw an inscription and the importance of representing how text appears on the stone, rather than just what it says, by Roger Tomlin. At the end of the day we were given a lecture on Survival in the field: the stones’ experience by Roger Tomlin.
In the morning of the second day we were taught about photographing inscriptions by Nick Pollard and Charles Crowther in which we got to use the exciting new RTI software. The program uses multiple images of the stone taken with the light source at different angles and then combines them to produce an interactive view of the stone. After lunch we were each given an inscription to analyse with the help of the tutors. These autopsies taught us about the difficulties of studying inscriptions, especially when the lettering had been worn down or entirely broken off. This also gave us a chance to apply what we had learnt over the past two days. Next we were shown videos of Richard Grasby illustrating the art of letter cutting, showing just how hard it must have been and giving us an appreciation for the quality of the inscribed texts. That evening all participants were generously provided with a meal out in Oxford, allowing us to get to know one another.
This superb workshop greatly improved the knowledge and research skills of the participants. It taught us about the practical side of epigraphy that is rarely appreciated or experienced by students. All of the lecturers and tutors who participated need to be thanked: Charles Crowther (Oxford), Roger Tomlin (Oxford), Robert Parker (Oxford), Alison Cooley (Warwick), Anja Ulbrich (Ashmolean), Nick Pollard (Photographer), and Peter Haarer (Oxford) for organising the highly enjoyable event. Furthermore, everyone who participated is very grateful to The Association Internationale d’Épigraphie Grecque et Latine for graciously funding the workshop.