Tita Vendia vase

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The Tita Vendia vase is a ceramic impasto pithos[1] (wine container[2]), crafted around 620-600 BC,[3] most likely in Rome.[4] The pithos, which exists only as an incomplete set of sherds,[5] carries one of two earliest known inscriptions in Latin language (the Vendia inscription)[2] and is usually, but not unanimously, interpreted as the earliest instance of a bipartite female Latin name with praenomen and gentilicum.[1]

The sherds of the vase were found by Raniero Mengarelli and deposited in the collection of Museo di Villa Giulia.[6] The exact location of the find is unknown but it probably occurred in Cerveteri[6] (ancient Caere).[7] The vase belongs to a type found in Southern Etruria,.[6] In its original form, based on the collection of sherds found, it was likely to have been approximately 35 centimeters tall and 45 centimeters wide.[1] The letters, 15 to 25 millimeters tall, had been scratched near the bottom.[1] They were inscribed by a right handed artisan, using reversed letter S (Ƨ), and with letters VH instead of normal F (vhecet instead if fecit; according to Baccum, this rules out Faliscan origin of the vase).[1] The inscription reads:


The lacuna between MAMAR and EDVHE is ten to twelve letters wide.[1] Only part of it has been reliably filled by interpreters. The missing part probably contained the name of the second potter; the first potter is unanimously identified as Mamarcos or Mamarce.[6] With the lacuna partially filled the inscription is expanded into:


The most common English interpretation of this text is:

I am the urn of Tita Vendia. Mamar[cos had me made].[2][8]

In this interpretation, archaic eco is used where we would expect normative Latin ego, since Latin had not yet developed a separate symbol for the voiced velar [g]; the personal name Vendias uses archaic genitive declension (as in paterfamilias) which is omitted in Tita, most likely due to a writing error.[2] There are also alternative interpretations:

  • that vrna connects to tita as vrna tvta, i.e. "this whole urn".[2]
  • that tita should be interpreted as an adjective, meaning prosperous.[1]
  • that vrna tita is a piggy bank.[1][9]
  • that tita is a teat that feeds Vendia wine.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Baccum, p. 583.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Baldi, p. 126.
  3. ^ Baldi, p. 126. Blanck, p. 24, dates it 640-630 B.C.E.
  4. ^ Baldi, p. 126: "It is probably from Rome, ca. 620-600 B.C.E.".
  5. ^ See photograph in Blanck, p. 24.
  6. ^ a b c d Baccum, p. 584.
  7. ^ Caerean origin is taken for granted, for example, by Vogt-Spira, p. 38.
  8. ^ Clarkson and Horrocks, p. 29.
  9. ^ Watkins, p. 129.