Here is a photograph of the inscription on Trajan's Column, AD 113/4. This was erected to commemorate the Emperor Trajan's victory over the Dacians, who lived in Central Eastern Europe. The column is 38 metres high and decorated with bas-reliefs showing scenes from the Dacian Wars. The inscription states that it was erected to show the height of the excavations into the adjacent hills which were necessary for the construction of the accompanying Forum of Trajan.
Notice the gradation in size from the bottom up. This is so that the letters all appear to be the same height when viewed from below.

Trajan's Column Inscription

Monumental letters carved in stone, which will be adapted for high-status manuscript pages.
What are the stylistic implications of a script developed for carving?


    Transcribe the inscription;
    Answer the following questions:
  • What are the proportions/aspect of the letters?
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  • Why are there serifs?
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  • Is the script upper-case or lower-case?
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  • Is there any punctuation?
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  • Why are there lines over some groups of letters?
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  • Are there any 'modern' letters missing?
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  • Are there any abbreviations?
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    © MEG TWYCROSS 1998