Dr. Antonello Vilella
June 2023 - November 2023
Research Project: Inscribing at the Frontier: The Epigraphic Landscape and Habit of Mauretania Caesariensis between the 5th and 6th Centuries
Mauretania Caesariensis, roughly corresponding to modern Algeria, was a region of the Roman Empire that found itself at the frontline facing the invading Vandal forces descending from Hispania in the late-420s. Vandals never gained full control of this region, confronting the Romans on the battleground for almost a century until the Justinian’s reconquest of North Africa in 533–4 put an end to their kingdom. To make the picture even more volatile, one must also note that several Moorish domains flourished especially in the Southernmost areas of Mauretania Caesariensis, and that Vandals also engaged in battle with them on multiple occasions. In my stay as a Fellow at the RomanIslam Center I will focus on the surviving epigraphic evidence from Mauretania Caesariensis datable between the 5th and 6th centuries with the aim to provide them with an accurate quantification, examine their material aspects and textual features, investigate their production, functions, and contexts of use, and define the epigraphic landscape and habit of this region. Eventually, it will be possible to verify whether the historical, political, and geographical unstable conditions outlined so far have left any traces into the inscriptional corpus of Mauretania Caesariensis in said timeframe, specifically 400–550. Although the previous literature on North Africa in Late Antiquity is notoriously rich, Mauretania Caesariensis has yet to be the recipient of a such a comprehensive and historically grounded epigraphic analysis.
Dr. Antonello Vilella is an epigrapher with a specialization in late antique and medieval epigraphy. He received his BA in “Sciences of Cultural Heritage” from the University of Bari in 2014 and, from the same institution, his MA in “Archaeology” in 2016 and post-MA Specializing Degree in Archaeology in 2019. He has been awarded his PhD title in May 2023 from the University of Bari, after having successfully defended his dissertation in “Christian and Medieval Epigraphy”. Here, from 2018, he serves as a Teaching Assistant for the class of “Christian and Medieval Epigraphy”. His work concentrates on late antique Rome, investigating the inscriptional evidence from Christian catacombs and serving, from 2016, as a Compiler and Editor for the “Epigraphic Database Bari” (https://www.edb.uniba.it/) - this database stores all inscriptions by Christians in Rome datable from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. He also devotes attention to the Jewish catacombs of Rome, notably the one that flourished under Vigna Randanini, located along the Via Appia Pignatelli. This work was carried out inside the project “Kollektive Bestattungen in Rom zwischen später Republik und Spätantike”, financed by the German Archaeological Institute of Rome; under this project he also studied the epigraphic materials from the third columbarium located inside Vigna Codini, an early-imperial sepulchral monument. He also publishes articles on medieval epigraphy and, alongside other colleagues, he is preparing an edition of the medieval inscriptions from the city of Bari for the “Inscriptiones Medii Aevi Italiae (secc. VI-XII)”, a corpus fostered by the “Centro Italiano di Studi per l’Alto Medioevo” (CISAM).
Vilella, Antonello (2023), “Promoting Euergetism through Inscriptions in Medieval Bari”, in: Isabel Velázquez Soriano / Sara López-Maroto Quiñones, eds., Praxis epigráfica. Desarrollo en el tiempo y en el espacio, Madrid: Guillermo Escolar Editor, 445–474.
Vilella, Antonello / Zimmermann, Norbert / Rutgers, Leonard V. / Kodzoman, Eva / Dee, Michael W. (2022), “The Jewish Catacomb at the Vigna Randanini in Rome: A New Architectural and Archaeological Study. With an Appendix on Tomb Statistics”, Römische Mitteilungen 128, 360–431.
Vilella, Antonello (2021), “Una nota su ICVR V 13150”, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 220, 319–320.
Vilella, Antonello / Ariosto, Carmelina / Zimmermann, Norbert (2020), “Un inedito cippo sepolcrale da Roma”, Tyche 35, 1–4.
Vilella, Antonello (2019a), “I rinvenimenti epigrafici nelle vigne del comprensorio callistiano. Un contributo per la loro contestualizzazione”, Temporis Signa 14, 145–162.
Vilella, Antonello (2019b), “Inedite (e dimenticate) iscrizioni parietali dal colombario di Vigna Codini III”, Römische Mitteilungen 125, 161–188.
Vilella, Antonello / Zimmermann, Norbert / Fröhlich, Thomas / Mayer, Irmengard / Felle, Antonio E. (2019c), “Kollektive Bestattungen in Rom zwischen später Republik und Spätantike. Forschungsüberblick der Jahre 2016 bis 2018”, E-forschungsberichte des DAI 2019, Faszikel 1, 131–145.
Vilella, Antonello / De Palo, Francesca / Esposito, Anna / Grassi, Sabrina / Trotta, Filippo (2018a), “Iscrizioni dalla Puglia Medievale (secoli VIII-XIV)”, Temporis Signa 13, 179–196.
Vilella, Antonello (2018b), “Iscrizioni perdute dalla città di Bari (secoli VIII-XII)”, in: Atti del IV Ciclo di Studi Medievali, Arcore: EBS Print, 391–395.