I've been walking trough the countermine system built by the Habsburgs, and saw the inscription from the title engraved in the arch above one of the doors. The guide said "its an masonry term also used by alchemists", but I'd like to know more. Now, its entirely possible that some hooligans engraved it, but it "looked authentic".

Here is an image:


On one of the Facebook pages I found the following description (on Serbian, my translation to English): IPAM - Earth (or soil, ground, dirt...), Wind, Fire, Water MIAM - emanation, creation, forming, action Could this be a Latin abbreviation?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Do you have a picture or any other details to provide? The phrase you entered doesn't mean anything in Latin, though it could conceivably be an abbreviation.
    – brianpck
    May 23, 2021 at 19:59
  • @brianpck link added. good idea, thank you.
    – Rorschach
    May 23, 2021 at 20:17
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    Welcome to the site and thanks for an interesting question! I added the image itself to the post.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 23, 2021 at 20:27
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    If it's an abbreviation (ignoring final n/m; shortening familiar words, as usual) then IN PIAM MemorIAM is a likely candidate. Digging tunnels is notoriously dangerous work.
    – Hugh
    May 23, 2021 at 21:26
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    @Hugh That sounds very plausible! Can you (or anyone else) write that into an answer?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 24, 2021 at 5:54

1 Answer 1


Was it the Petrovaradin Fortress? It's definitely not straightforward Latin, but like brianpck said, it could be an abbreviation. It could be something else altogether (different language, secret code), but the various "travel sites" online back up the guide, at least:

https://www.traveltonovisad.com/museums-in-novi-sad/the-museum-of-novi-sad/ https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/catacombs-of-petrovaradin-fortress https://elmundoviajes.com/catacumbas-de-la-fortaleza-de-petrovaradin-en-petrovaradinserbia/

Some of the interesting discoveries in the galleries were a Maltese cross, as well as evidence pointing to Masonic movements throughout the tunnels. Another one of Masonic emblems is “Ipam miam”.

This is an inscription used by alchemists and masons to mark doorways as a symbol that they are moving toward the Creator, moving toward something becoming out of nothing and vice versa.

Here's a video (with a time stamp) to the inscription, for those curious:


I don't see any academic articles discussing it (not on Google Books, not on JSTOR), and in fact there isn't much out there at all. You might have to consult an actual expert on Masonic codes or some scholar who has studied the Petrovaradin Fortress.

The whole "earth - wind - fire - water" thing sounds like nonsense. The main words for earth/ground are terra, humus, tellus, or solum, the first letter of which are not found at all in IPAM or MIAM. If there is a connection, it's likely to be a backronym, but I wouldn't trust Facebook.

Long story short: there's no information, and it's definitely not Latin. If it is an abbreviation, it would be very cryptic.

  • Hi. You got the location correct. The Travel Novi Sad link you posted - I saw it before posting the question - it sounds more like an assumption than a statement to me, but who knows. More info added to original question.
    – Rorschach
    May 23, 2021 at 20:42
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    Thank you for expanding your answer. It seemed to me that the info was vague and largely a guess, not a verified info.
    – Rorschach
    May 23, 2021 at 21:08
  • @Rorschach That seems likely, but as I don't read Hungarian or Serbian, there may be some monograph in those languages that I'm unaware of. So far though the phrase turns up zilch.
    – cmw
    May 23, 2021 at 21:15

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