Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum

The Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum (= Collection of Semitic Inscriptions, abbreviated as CIS) is a series with which few of us will be familiar.  The following notes come mostly from the Italian Wikipedia.

The CIS is a series of volumes containing inscriptions in semitic languages written in a “semitic character” (i.e. not cuneiform) and giving them a reference number.  The content covers the period from 2,000 BC down to 622 AD, the start of the Moslem period, and is intended to cover material not already included in the similar collections of Latin, Greek, Assyrian and Egyptian materials.

The series owed its existence to a commission headed by Ernest Renan, which proposed its creation to the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres Francais on 17th April, 1867.  Each inscription is given as a transcription in Roman letters, with a Latin translation.

The plan of the work was for ten volumes:

  1. Phoenician, Punic and Neo-punic inscriptions.
  2. Jewish and Samaritan inscriptions.
  3. Aramaic inscriptions.
  4. Palmyrene inscriptions.
  5. Nabatean inscriptions.
  6. Syriac inscriptions.
  7. Mandaic inscriptions.
  8. Primitive Arabic inscriptions.
  9. Himyarite inscriptions.
  10. Amharic inscriptions.

An appendix was also planned, to contain items from Cyprus, Libya, Lycia, etc.

The work was delayed by the Franco-Prussian war, and by difficulties with the Phoenician types, which had to be redesigned and recast.  Finally the first part of the first volume appeared in 1881.

Publication continued until 1961, when it halted.  In the end, four parts appeared:

Corpus Inscriptionum ab Academia Inscriptionum et Litterarum Humaniorum conditum atque Digestum.Parisiis: E Reipublicae Typographeo, 1881-1962 Parisiis: E Reipublicae Typographeo, 1881-1962

  • Pars 1: Inscriptiones Phoenicias continens (1.1; 1.1 Tabulae; 1.2; 1.2 Tabulae; 1.3; 1.3,4; 2.1; 2.2; 2.3; 2.4; 3.1; 3.2)
  • Pars 2: Inscriptiones aramaicas continens (Including: 2.1; 2.1 Tabulae; 3.1; 3.2)
  • Pars 4: Inscriptiones Himyariticas et Sabaeas Continens (Including: 1: fasciculus primus; 2: fasciculus secundus; 4.1)
  • Pars 5: Inscriptiones Saracenicas continens (Including: 1: Inscriptiones safaiticas; 2: Tabulae)

I have been unable to locate any of these items online, however.

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