Department of Epigraphic Collections
Conceived as an autonomous sector in the 1971 Regulations of the Vatican Museums, the Epigraphic Collections received a great impetus from Carlo Pietrangeli, during whose direction (1978-1995) there took place the historic transformation that had already started after the transfer to the Vatican of the Lateran collections, on the initiative of the supervisor of antiquities Georg Daltrop, with the assent of the director Deoclecio Redig de Campos (1971-1978).
«Epigraphia tota nostra est», wrote Pietrangeli in 1995, in the preface to the volume of the series Inscriptiones Sanctae Sedis, dedicated to the Lapidary Gallery. The Latin expression, “all epigraphy is ours” but also “the epigraphy is all ours”, reveals the importance attributed to a discipline that embraces various areas of research: archaeological, topographical, artistic, linguistic, graphic, historical-antiquarian, collectionistic-museographical and humanistic, historical-cultural, and bibliographic-archivistic. Furthermore, it reveals the importance of an epigraphic heritage, written mostly on stone supports in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic, that offers scholars and visitors unique evidence of history and society over a time span from antiquity to our times.
The 2008 Regulations indicate in particular the competence over 13,870 inscriptions conserved in the Lapidary Gallery, the Lapidario Profano ex Lateranense, the Medieval Lapidarium, the Antiquarian of the Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis, and the sectors Brick stamps, Equites singulares, Urns and Commemorative stones, Fistulae, Quarry-stones, Storage deposit beneath the Octagonal Courtyard, Former Ponteggi storage deposit, and the Corazze storage deposit. Other works are present in the Pio Clementino Museum, the Gregoriano Profano Museum and the Courtyard of the Pinecone, and yet more in the following extra-territorial areas: Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Palazzo della Cancelleria, and Villa Giorgina.