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The Study of Inscriptions is Called

The Study of Inscriptions is Called

The study of inscriptions is called epigraphy. It is the science of identifying graphemes, the clarification of their meanings, classifying their uses depending on dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions based on the writing and the writers. Specifically excluded from the science of epigraphy is the historical significance of an epigraph as a document as well as the artistic value of literary composition. A person that uses the methods of epigraphy is referred to as an epigrapher or epigraphist. 

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Epigraphists are the people who are responsible for reconstructing, translating, and dating the inscription and finding any relevant circumstances for that inscription and manuscript. However, historians are the people to determine and interpret the events recorded by the inscription in the form of documents. Often, epigraphy and history are competencies practiced by the same person. It is a primary tool of archaeology that deals with literate cultures. Epigraphy is also sometimes used to help identify a forgery.

An epigraph is any sort of text, from a single grapheme to a lengthy document. Epigraphy overlaps with other competencies such as paleography and numismatics. When compared to books, most inscriptions are short. The forms and media used for the graphemes are diverse,  a few of which are given below:

  • Engravings within stone or metal
  • Scratches on rock
  • Embossing on cast metal
  • Impressions in wax
  • Cameo or intaglio on precious stones
  • Painting on ceramic or in fresco

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