and that they all belong to the first three centuries. They are found together with the earlier Greek and Latin graffiti of Roman soldiers and with later Moslem remarks in Kufic. Many of them are not yet published.
Bibliography—The best introductions are, for North Semitic, Lidzbarski’s Handbuch d. nordsemitischen Epigraphik (Weimar, 1898); and G. A. Cooke’s Text-book of North-Semitic Inscriptions (Oxford, 1903); for South Semitic, Hommel’s Süd-arabische Chrestomathie (Munich, 1893); Alphabets and facsimiles in Berger, Histoire de l’écriture, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1892). The parts of the Corpus Inscr. Sem. published up to 1910 are: pars i., tom. i., and tom. ii., fascc. 1-3, 1881-1908 (Phoenician); pars ii., tom. i., 1889-1902 (Aramaic with Nabataean), tom. ii., fasc. i., 1907 (Sinaitic); pars iv., tom. i., fascc. 1-4, 1889-1908 (Himyaritic, including Minaean and Sabaean). In all these parts a full bibliography is given. For Palmyrene see de Vogüé’s Syrie Centrale (Paris, 1868-1877). Works on special departments of the subject have already been mentioned in the notes.
- (A. Cy.)
II. Indian Inscriptions
The inscriptions of India are extremely numerous, and are found, on stone and other substances, in a great variety of circumstances. They were mostly recorded by incision. But we have a few, referable to the 2nd or 3rd century Materials on which the inscriptions were recorded. B.C., which were written with ink on earthenware, and some others, of later times, recorded by paint,—one on a rock, the others on the walls of Buddhist cave-temples. Those, however, were exceptional methods; and equally so was the process of casting, with the result of bringing the letters out in relief, of which we know at present only one instance,—the Sōhgaurā plate, mentioned again below. The Mussulman inscriptions on stone were, it is believed, nearly always carved in relief; and various Hindu inscriptions were done in the same way in the Mussulman period: but only one instance of a stone record prepared in that manner can as yet be cited for the earlier period; it is an inscription on the pedestal of an image of Buddha, of the Gupta period, found in excavations made not long ago at Sārnāth.
Amongst the inscriptions on metal there is one that stands out by itself, in respect of the peculiarity of having been incised on iron: it is the short poem, constituting the epitaph of the Gupta king Chandragupta II., which was composed in or about A.D. 415, and was placed on record on the iron column, measuring 23 ft. 8 in. in height, and estimated to weigh more than six tons, which stands at Meharaulī near Delhi. We have a very small number of short Buddhist votive inscriptions on gold and silver, a larger number of records of various kinds on brass, and a larger number still on bronze. The last-mentioned consist chiefly of seals and stamps for making seals. And one of these seal-stamps, belonging to about the commencement of the Christian era, is of particular interest in presenting its legend in Greek characters as well as in the two Indian alphabets which were then in use. For the period, indeed, to which it belongs, there is nothing peculiar in the use of the Greek characters; those characters were freely used on the coins of India and adjacent territories, sometimes along with the native characters, sometimes alone, from about 325 B.C. to the first quarter of the 2nd century A.D.: but this seal-stamp, and the coins of the Kshaharāta king Nahapāna (A.D. 78 to about 125), furnish the only citable good instances of the use of the three alphabets all together. For the most part, however, the known inscriptions on metal were placed on sheets of copper, ranging in size from about 2½ in. by 1⅞ in. in the case of the Sōhgaurā plate to as much as about 2 ft. 6 in. square in the case of a record of 46 B.C. obtained at Suē-Vihār in the neighbourhood of Bahāwalpūr in the Punjab. Some of these records on copper were commemorative and dedicatory, and were deposited inside the erections—relic-mounds, and, in the case of the Suē-Vihār plate, a tower—to which they belonged. The usual copper record, however, was a donative charter, in fact a title-deed, and passed as soon as it was issued into private personal custody; and many of the known records of this class have come to notice through being produced by the modern possessors of them before official authorities, in the expectation of establishing privileges which (it is hardly necessary to say) have long since ceased to exist through the lapse of time, the dying out of families of original holders, rights of conquest, and the many changes of government that have taken place: but others have been found buried in fields, and hidden in the walls and foundations of buildings. The plates on which these inscriptions were incised vary greatly in the number of the leaves, in the size and shape of them, and in the arrangement of the records on them; partly, of course, according to the lengths of individual records, but also according to particular customs and fashions prevalent in different parts of the country and in different periods of time. In some cases a single plate was used; and it was inscribed sometimes on only one side of it, sometimes on both. More often, however, more plates than one were used, and were connected together by soldered rings; and the number ranges up to as many as thirty-one in the case of a charter issued by the Chōḷa king Rājēndra Chōḷa I. in the period A.D. 1011 to 1037. It was customary that such of the records on copper as were donative charters should be authenticated. This was sometimes done by incising on the plates what purports to be more or less an autograph signature of the king or prince from whom a charter emanated. More usually, however, it was effected by attaching a copper or bronze reproduction of the royal seal to the ring or to one of the rings on which the plates were strung; and this practice has given us another large and highly interesting series of Indian seals, some of them of an extremely elaborate nature. In this class of records we have a real curiosity in a charter issued in A.D. 1272 by Rāmachandra, one of the Yādava kings of Dēvagiri: this record is on three plates, each measuring about 1 ft. 3 in. in width by 1 ft. 8½ in. in height, which are so massive as to weigh 59 ℔. 2 oz.; and the weight of the ring on which they were strung, and of an image of Garuḍa which was secured to it by another ring, is 11 ℔. 12 oz.: thus, the total weight of this title-deed, which conveyed a village to fifty-seven Brāhmaṇs, is no less than 70 ℔. 14 oz.; appreciably more than half a hundredweight.
Amongst substances other than metal we can cite only one instance in which crystal was used; this material was evidently found too hard for any general use in the inscriptional line: the solitary instance is the case of a short record found in the remains of a Buddhist stūpa or relic-mound at Bhaṭṭiprōlu in the Kistna district, Madras. In various parts of India there are found in large numbers small tablets of clay prepared from stamps, sometimes baked into terra-cotta, sometimes left to harden naturally. Objects of this class were largely used as votive tablets, especially by the Buddhists; and their tablets usually present the so-called Buddhist formula or creed: “Of those conditions which spring from a cause, Tathāgata (Buddha) has declared the cause and the suppression of them; it is of such matters that he, the great ascetic, discourses”: but others, from Sunet in the Ludhiāna district, Punjab, show by the legends on them that the Śaivas and Vaishṇavas also habitually made pious offerings of this kind on occasions of visiting sacred places. Recent explorations, however, in the Gōrakhpūr and Muzaffarpūr districts have resulted in the discovery, in this class of records, of great numbers of clay seals bearing various inscriptions, which had been attached to documents sent to and fro between administrative offices, both royal and municipal, between religious establishments, and between private individuals: and amongst these we have seals of the monastery at Kusinārā, one of the places at which the eight original portions of the corporeal relics of Buddha were enshrined in relic-mounds, and also a seal-stamp used for making seals of the monastery at Veṭhadīpa, another of those places. And from Kāṭhiawār we have a similar seal-stamp which describes itself as the property “of the prince and commander-in-chief Pushyēṇa, son of the illustrious prince Ahivarman, whose royal pedigree extends back unbroken to Jayadratha.” There are no indications that the use of brick for inscriptional purposes was ever at all general in India, as it was in some other eastern lands: but there have been found in the Ghāzīpūr district numerous bricks bearing the inscription “the glorious Kumāragupta,” with reference to either the first or the second Gupta king of that name, of the 5th century A.D.; in the Gōrakhpūr district there have been found