The Greek word epigraphḗ, which can be translated as "inscription" , came to modern Latin as epigraphia. The concept, in Spanish, became epigraphy : this is the name of the scientific discipline which is dedicated to analyze the inscriptions .
The term inscription , meanwhile, it has several uses. This time we will focus on its meaning as a writing that is recorded in a resistant material in order to register something so that it subsists despite the passage of weather .
The epigraphy aims to analyze the support, structure, content and function of the inscriptions. Although it is considered as a science with autonomy, it is also an auxiliary branch of the history .
Experts in this area of knowledge seek decipher and interpret the inscriptions . In this framework, they also study the materials on which the engravings and the purpose of the writings.
It is customary to consider epigraphy as a testimony of the transition of a people from prehistory to history . This is because the story begins with the appearance of written documents, which means that the existence of inscriptions would imply for a culture to leave the prehistoric period behind.
The oldest inscriptions were developed around the 3,800 BC , when the Sumerians they devised the writing cuneiform . Today epigraphy investigates registrations of multiple kinds: legal, honorary, historical, religious, etc.
The Rosetta Stone , the Tanais tablets and the Mesha Stele They are some of the most famous documents among those studied by epigraphy. These three testimonies are preserved in museums .