Inaugurated in 1981, the Lapidario Profano ex Lateranense is the result of the rearrangement of the collection located in the Lateran Palace until 1963 following its transfer to the Vatican. Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) had established a Museum of Antiquity in the Lateran Palace in which the inscriptions were divided among three lapidaria: Profane, Jewish and Christian.
The inscriptions are divided into two main groups on the basis of their place of origin: “Extra-urban or municipal” (further divided by city: Ostia, Falerii Novi, Veio, Ferentino, Preneste, Tivoli, Tusculum, etc., ancient centres in present-day Latium) and “Inscriptions from Rome”. This second and more numerous group is in turn subdivided according to textual content (gods, emperors, senators and knights, magistrates’ staff, priests, calendars, the military, professions and trades, etc.), and by archaeological context (for instance by tomb, such a those of slaves and freedmen of the Volusii Saturnini senatorial family), and then by extra-urban area (the Cremaschi and Ammendola vineyards, etc.). These are followed by the remaining tomb inscriptions of miscellaneous origins, and then tabulae lusoriae (marble game boards)¸ small cippi, urns, altars, Greek inscriptions, stones engraved on both sides, and various fragments. The quarry inscriptions and weights, previously displayed in the Lapidario Profano, are currently displayed, along with lead pipes, at the Major Mosaic Area.
The original collection, which included around 3430 inscriptions, of which only around 860 are entirely transcribable and more than 2000 are in fragments, was subsequently enriched. More than 78 stones and altars, previously stored in deposits, are now displayed in the so-called “external area” situated outside the Minor Mosaic Area.
Only part of the group of “Municipal Inscriptions” – relating to Falerii Novi, unidentifiable locations, and Veio (partial) – is currently exhibited to the public.