John Ma (Corpus Christi College, Oxford), “Greek Epigraphy and the Representation of Authority”, offered a refreshingly ‘outside the box’ lecture revolving around the intricate ways inscriptions represent authority. Authority in inscriptions may be specified (the demos, the body politic, the ruler, an hierarchical chain of command of officials [as in SEG 37.1010], divine power), implied, or even be internal, when the inscribed text poses as a self-fulfilling demonstration of power. The effect is amplified by the choice of an ἐπιφανέστατος τόπος where the inscribed monument is erected. The presence of the inscribed text in a place of preexisting high status and the preeminence and visibility thus achieved entrenches power in two ways: it confirms the power the text evokes and it confirms the power of the text itself. However, one must not forget that this is a power to which the reader may or may not yield. The inscribed text, therefore, is often best seen as a form of social magic, a contract with the eventual reader; in other words, a magic of consent. The inscribed text, naturally, attempts to hide its actual impotence by concentrating on its projected authority; this is another reminder for epigraphers that philological expertise is hardly enough to help us understand inscriptions without the use of our sense of historical realities and our sense of discourse.
7 September, 2007
6 September, 2007
M. B. Hatzopoulos (Research Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity, Athens), “An Old and New Inscription from Mieza: the Constitution of Extensive Landed Properties in the Central Macedonian Plain and the Question of λαοί in Hellenistic Macedonia” dealt with the creation of large estates in Macedonia. It was already well-known that extensive estates were a common feature of the Central Macedonian Plain in Roman times. A new fragment of the already known list of deeds of sale from Mieza, allows us to see how such large estates were created. All ten deeds of sale (actually copies of the official deeds set up by the owner himself) concern acquisitions of land by a certain Zopyros over a period of three years; all parcels of land bought by him were apparently situated in the same area, the northern part of the territory of Mieza; Zopyros obviously attempted to form a continuous extended property, probably larger than the great royal donations in the New Lands. How was such an estate exploited? The general consensus has been that laoi, dependent farmers attached to the land were not and could not be attested in Antigonid Macedonia. However, the well-attested royal practice of transferring populations should have led to caution; now, a new unpublished decree of Kyrrhos explicitly mentions laoi in early-third-century Macedonia.
Cédric Brélaz (École Française d’Athènes), “La langue des indigènes sur le territoire de la colonie romaine de Philippes”, drew attention to the fact that in Philippi, in contrast with the majority of Roman colonies in Greece, where the prevailing language outside the small circle of colonists is Greek, there are several inscriptions of the incolae in Latin. Since practically all such Latin inscriptions belong to persons of Thracian origin, the speaker convincingly argued that the appeal of Latin to these populations was due to the lesser degree of hellenization in the territory of Philippi. This relative appeal of Latin is also attested in other insufficiently hellenized Roman colonies of the Greek East.
Slavica Babamova-Janik (Institute for National History, Skopje), “Personal names of the inhabitants of eastern Paeonia in the Roman period”, dealt with the onomastics of eastern Paeonia. A perusal of old and new inscriptions led her to the conclusion that many names of that area which have been characterized as Thracian should be considered epichoric, part of the local substratum of the Balkan peninsula.
Manuela Mari (Università degli Studi di Cassino), “Epigraphic evidence on the cults of Amphipolis”, provided a full overview of all sources on the cults of Amphipolis. Three main features emerged: a) remnants of the city’s Athenian past persisted into much later periods; b) the number of cults is surprisingly high, surely a testimony to the city’s cosmopolitan and religiously open-minded character; c) personality cult (primarily, but not exclusively, royal cult) was particularly popular.
5 September, 2007
The two lectures of this session dealt with (mostly Roman) demography and identity (mostly of rural Asia Minor).
Walter Scheidel (Stanford), “Epigraphy and Demography: Birth, marriage, family and death”, presented an overview of the advances in demographic studies, mostly on the Roman empire. Although no useable information on fertility is provided by epigraphy, inscriptions allow us to affirm that there is a spike in the number of births in January, just as in the premodern Mediterranean. They also allow an analysis of the age of marriage. They confirm that the nuclear family is, by far, the key social bond in urban environments, although more extended families are attested in the countryside. The sex ratio of inscriptions (the attested number of men per 100 attested women) is often exceptionally high in the epigraphic data, due to epigraphic habits rather than demographic realities. Mortality rates, contrary to the older consensus, cannot be deduced by the dates recorded in epitaphs. There are, however, data on seasonal mortality: the late summer / early autumn was a dangerous period of the year in Rome, while comparison with some other major cities, where no observable pattern in seasonal mortality is observed, allows the assumption that they were healthier places to live in than the capital of the empire.
Scheidel’s working paper can be found here (pdf).
Christoph Schuler (Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik, Munich), “Inscriptions and the identity of population groups: case studies from the countryside”, studied the connection between epigraphy and the identity of rural population in Roman Asia Minor. Taking the middle road between two opposite views (the countryside as a world apart – the countryside as an integral part of the city), the speaker used a variety of evidence –dedications to local manifestations of weather gods, archaeological evidence from rural sanctuaries, atonement inscriptions– in a convincing attempt to show how epigraphy and the rural sense of identity are interrelated; how pride in the local cult is portrayed through epigraphy, thus further reinforcing the sense of distinct identity.
4 September, 2007
CIEGL XIII: Thematic Panel 1.1, ‘Public Inscriptions of Classical and Hellenistic Athens: IG II3 and History, Chronology, Location’
The first thematic panel of Monday included communications on diplomatic (Lambert) and political (Scafuro) practice and chronology (Tracy). Simone Follet, who was also scheduled to offer a communication, was unable to attend.
Stephen Lambert (Cardiff University), “The Shape of Athenian External Relations 352/1-322/1: the Perspective of the Inscribed Decrees”, offered an overview of trends and patterns in Athenian foreign policy during the third quarter of the third century BC, based on his work for the forthcoming fascicle of IG II3. He observed that, as expected, few treaties or decrees honouring cities survive from the period between the battle of Chaironeia and the Lamian war. This should not be taken to imply, however, that diplomatic activity itself had diminished; honorific decrees for individual foreigners testify to the contrary. From now on, there is an increasing emphasis on diplomacy through the mediation of individuals.
Stephen Tracy (ASCSA, Athens), “- -sinos, A New Archon of Athens”, presented an unpublished inscription from the Library of Hadrian (inv. no. BA 457), read and restored by Paraskevi Bardani. This ephebic catalogue’s main interest lies in the certain mention of a new third-century BC Athenian archon, whose name (in the genitive) ends in [---]σίνου (perhaps [Τελε]σίνου). Letter-type, parallels in the disposition of the catalogue, possible prosopographical connections and the few remaining gaps in the Athenian archon-list led the speaker to a tentative dating in the late 260’s.
Adele Scafuro (Brown University), “A Crown for the Asking: Athenian Requests to Honor Athenians, the Epigraphical Evidence: 337/6-279 B.C.”, dealt with requests by Athenian citizens for honours, especially in the context of an office they held. First, she examined the relative terminology (paralleled by the one used for verbal reports in front of the Council or the Assembly). Then, she focussed on procedure, especially in cases where honours were voted before the honorand’s service was concluded. She argued that the procedure was simpler than previously assumed: the honorand went through the euthyna after his term of office and was only then allowed to have the decree in his honour inscribed; since the document he had in his possession was the original one, voted before his service was concluded, the inscribed text still includes the –now irrelevant– phrase “… after he goes through the euthyna”. Finally, the speaker tentatively suggested that Clinton, I. Eleusis no 95 (IG II2 1191), a text problematic in several details, includes the honorand’s request for honours.
2 May, 2007
The 2004 volume of Praktika tes en Athenais Archaiologikes Etaireias (ISSN 1105-0969) has just been published. Petros Themelis’ report on the excavations of Messene (p. 27-53) includes 10 new inscriptions and a detailed mention of a long (184 lines) text recording an arbitration between Messene and Megalopolis in 185/4 BC.
19 April, 2007
Since it seems not to have reached the libraries yet, let me signal the following publication (in Greek, with a summary in German):
Pantelis M. Nigdelis, Ἐπιγραφικὰ Θεσσαλονίκεια. Συμβολὴ στὴν πολιτικὴ καὶ κοινωνικὴ ἱστορία τῆς ἀρχαίας Θεσσαλονίκης, Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2006, 646 p., ISBN: 9601215506.
It is a publication of 75 inscriptions from Thessaloniki (of which 59 previously unpublished, if I counted correctly) and 66 testimonia epigraphica, with copious commentaries.
16 April, 2007
As expected, the ongoing work for the construction of the Thessaloniki metro already yields important archaeological finds. Among the finds of the eastern cemetary of the ancient city, the Greek press reports a funerary stele with the inscription Ἐπιθέρσης Φίλωνος Μηθυμναῖος (no date provided).