The Info List - Praeneste Fibula

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The PRAENESTE FIBULA (the "brooch of Palestrina
") is a golden fibula or brooch , today housed in the Museo Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini in Rome
. The fibula bears an inscription in Old Latin . At the time of its discovery in the late nineteenth century, it was accepted as the earliest known specimen of the Latin
language. The authenticity of the inscription has since been disputed. However a new analysis performed in 2011 declared it to be genuine "beyond any reasonable doubt" and to date from the Orientalizing period , in the first half of the seventh century BC.


* 1 Discovery * 2 Date and inscription * 3 Hoax theory * 4 Claimed authenticity * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links


The fibula was presented to the public in 1887 by Wolfgang Helbig , an archaeologist. At the time, Helbig did not explain how he had come to acquire the artifact.


The inscription on the Praeneste Fibula. The writing runs from right to left.

The fibula was thought to originate from the 7th century BC. It is inscribed with a text that appears to be written in Old Latin, here transcribed to Roman letters: MANIOS MED FHEFHAKED NVMASIOI

The equivalent Classical Latin
sentence obtained by applying the appropriate differences between Old Latin and Classical Latin
would probably have been: *MANIVS ME FECIT NVMERIO

translated as: Manius made me for Numerius


In 1980 Margherita Guarducci , a leading epigraphist , published a book claiming that the inscription had been forged by Francesco Martinetti , an art dealer, and Helbig, who were known to have collaborated in shady dealings. Its presentation in 1887, she claimed, was in fact a hoax perpetrated to advance the careers of both men. This was the most formal but not the first accusation of its kind: Georg Karo had said that Helbig told him that the fibula had been stolen from Palestrina
's Tomba Bernardini.


Evidence in favor of the genuineness of the text came from a new Etruscan inscription of the Orientaliz