Current Epigraphy
ISSN: 1754-0909

14 May, 2012

Help with reading Greek inscription

Filed under: e-seminar,query — Gabriel Bodard @ 22:14

David Meadows posted the following call for help reading the scratched inscription on an ossuary in Jerusalem. Can any epigraphically trained readers help decipher the Greek letters? (We’ve help crowdsourced readings and e-seminars before, so I’m hopeful our readers have the expertise to help with this.)

To begin: the inscription is found one of a number of ossuaries still  in situ in a tomb in Jerusalem, so we’re dealing with a funerary context. The inscription is only seen in photos (of varying quality) because the tomb was explored via a robotic camera. When the tomb was originally excavated back in 1980 or thereabouts,  the inscription itself does not seem to have been recorded (or if it was, it has not been published). Further complicating things is the fact that the ossuaries were moved around and there are plenty of scratches thereon, which may or may not be affecting the reading of this inscription. Amongst the artifacts found in association with the ossuary inscription was this pot:

Figure 1 (more…)

17 December, 2009

Stamp Query

Filed under: query — PaulIversen @ 22:51


I’ve received the above picture of a stamp with the following query:

When I was on a trip to Petra, Jordan, I happened to find an object that looks like a lead (bronze?) stamp. It bears an inscription in letters which are definitely Greek. Its diameter is 2 cm, the shape reminds of a truffle (a cone with a rounded tip).

I would really like to know when and where it was made, how it could get to Petra and what it says. You see, I am a philologist passionately interested in connections between nations, but I live in Sweden and here I could not find anyone knowledgeable enough to give me a trustworthy answer. I realize that it is a pretty difficult question to answer as Petra was visited by people from many countries, and Greek was so wide-spread. But please tell me what you think.

I am enclosing a picture on which the image is reversed – that is how the impression of the stamp would look.

Any idea what it says?  Perhaps a reference to Τύχη?

18 March, 2009

Peculiar symbol in Hellenistic inscription

Filed under: query — AlexanderJones @ 19:33

Unidentified symboltracing of unidentified symbol

The images show a strange (at least to me) symbol that appears in a Hellenistic inscription I’m working on. These are tomography images of an inscription on bronze; the right one shows a tracing of the symbol to make it easier to distinguish from scratches and other apparently irrelevant marks. The general context is a technical astronomical text, while the specific position of the symbol suggests that its function is either (a) standing as the abbreviation for an astronomical term, or (b) acting as an extension of the standard Greek alphabet as a way of indexing parts of the text. I would be most grateful for any suggestions or direction to similar symbols in inscriptions, papyri, or Greek manuscripts.

Could it, for example, be a variant of the T-shaped form of sampi, tilted instead of upright?

12 November, 2008

Query: History of Phoenician-Punic Epigraphy

Filed under: query — Tom Elliott @ 18:35

Philip Schmitz writes:

I have been asked to prepare a chapter on the history of Phoenician-Punic epigraphy for a volume honoring an important contributor to the field. I would like to include details of human interest pertaining to significant scholars and discoveries. I have consulted Mark Smith’s wonderful survey of the Northwest Semitic field, and will incorporate relevant items from that work.

I am not much interested in personal foibles or idiosyncrasies of teachers and scholars except as such might have led to progress in the discovery, decipherment, critical edition, or interpretation of Phoenician and Punic inscriptions. More valuable would be instances of working method, the role of comprehensive cataloguing, notable cases of insight or intuition, and the like. Eyewitness accounts of text discoveries, personal or reported narratives about teaching and research methods, and reflection about how discoveries of texts have changed perceptions of ancient history and biblical studies are especially welcome.

The period I plan to cover begins with the seventeenth-century erudites and extends to the current generation. My focus will be on Phoenician and Punic, although that history is difficult to divide neatly from the rest of Northwest Semitic epigraphy or from Semitic studies at large. The earliest periods of the alphabet, significant as they are, are less germane to this study than the periods from Iron II to Roman. I am particularly concerned to identify critical moments and turning points in the field’s development. Hearing your perceptions of these would be immensely helpful as I review and revise my own understanding. I greatly appreciate any response you might wish to make to my request.


Philip C. Schmitz
Professor of History
Department of History and Philosophy
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

29 October, 2008

A Census of Digital Epigraphy

Filed under: AIEGL,ASGLE,methodology,news,publications,query — Tom Elliott @ 17:16

Dear colleagues and friends:

(Apologies for cross-postings to lists. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, students and other discussion fora.)

Please send me ( information about digital projects, publications and computer-aided research in epigraphy. This information will be used to update or inform multiple resources including:

  • The “ASGLE links” resource (currently out of date):
  • A section on “digital epigraphy” in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Latin Epigraphy
  • A review of the state of the discipline to be presented at the ASGLE-sponsored session of the Joint Meetings of the APA/AIA in Philadelphia in January 2009

I am interested in any undertaking that involves computational approaches or digital data, whether it has resulted in publication or not. Any subdiscipline of epigraphy (Latin, Greek, other) is of interest. Information about papyrological and palaeographical projects whose methodology, technology or content has direct application in epigraphic study is also welcome.

The ASGLE links update will include a software upgrade, and will be carried out in collaboration with the editorial board of Current Epigraphy and the leadership and appropriate committees of the Association Internationale d’ Épigraphie Grecque et Latine and of the American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy. All information presented in the resulting “new” links collection will be released to the public under terms of a Creative Commons Attribution license so that it can be re-used freely by others. All information sent to me will be assumed to be the intellectual property of the person submitting it, and will be treated under terms of the CC license.

Ideally, I would like to have as much of the following information as possible (please feel free to use your native language):

  • Title of project, resource or publication
  • Principal investigator(s), author(s) or editor(s)
  • Intitutional affiliation(s)
  • URLs for websites
  • Publication citation(s)
  • A short description
  • Status (e.g., experimental, complete, published, in progress, continuing, private)
  • Technologies, methodologies used
  • Sources of funding (past and present)
  • Contact email address

Thank you for your assistance in this endeavor.


Tom Elliott
Associate Director for Digital Programs
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
New York University

2 October, 2008

Epigraphic ligature for VI?

Filed under: EpiDoc,query — Gabriel Bodard @ 18:07

Over on the Markup list (for discussion of text markup issues) we have been discussing the ligature of VI that appears in some Latin inscriptions. I asked:

We have come across several cases in the Inscriptions of Roman
Tripolitania of the symbol that looks a little like an Arabic '4', but
seems in fact to be a ligature of VI and stands for the numeral six (or,
followed for example by II, part of a larger numeral VIII etc.)

(1) is this a recognised symbol, and is there a Unicode codepoint that
is either dedicated to it or acceptable to use to encode this symbol (as
opposed to just for display)?

(2) is there a common name for this symbol, better than "six-ligature"
or "vi-ligature"?

(The symbol appears not to have a separate codepoint in Unicode, and nor should we expect it to be treated differently from U+2165, “Roman numeral six”, of which it is, after all, only a glyph variant. We have also, I think, answered the question of how to represent this symbol in EpiDoc [i.e. just like any other ligature].)

As an interesting aside, Paul Iversen suggested that there may some influence on this glyph-form from the Greek numeric stigma/digamma for six. There are plenty of other examples of the use of this symbol (including some useful Latin papyrological examples provided offlist by Rodney Ast). I include here the one photograph I have been able to find of a Tripolitanian example, where (VI)III = 9:

VI ligature example (from IRT 209)

What do readers think? Is there any relationship between this and digamma? Is there a name for this ligature? Is there any argument for treating this any differently from a ligature of (NM) or (ΠΡ)?

24 September, 2008

Inscriptions on the Antikythera Mechanism (1)

Filed under: query — AlexanderJones @ 17:14

This is the first of two posts arising from recent and ongoing work (some of which I’ve been involved in) on the Antikythera Mechanism. Two installments of this project have been published in Nature, in 2006 and 2008. For a partial bibliography see:
A classic (but now very outdated) study is Derek de Solla Price, Gears From the Greeks, 1974.

The Mechanism was a bronze gearwork device for displaying astronomical and chronological cycles and phenomena. It was recovered from the “Antikythera Wreck” c. 1900, and now consists of some 80 or so fragments in the Archeological Museum in Athens. From several considerations, including most usefully some datable coins from Pergamum and Ephesus recovered from the wreck in 1976, the wreck can be dated to after (but probably not very long after) 70 B.C., and its cargo was luxury items (bronze and marble statuary, glassware, and of course our Mechanism itself).

It is generally assumed, with good reason, that the vessel got its cargo from one or more places in Asia Minor and the Aegean, and was heading west, maybe to Italy. The Mechanism, however, turns out, as we recently discovered, to have had an inscribed dial displaying the current date according to the Corinthian calendar, which means that it was made for–if not in fact made in–one of the several regions (Corinth, NW Greece, parts of Sicily, all on the “wrong” side of Antikythera) where this calendar was used. This is obviously puzzling. (I’ll return to the subject of the Corinthian calendar in my second post.)

We’d also really like to know the approximate date of the Mechanism: obviously it predates the wreck, thus can hardly be later than mid-first-century B.C., but was it new then or, like the statues in the cargo, already old? There seems little prospect of getting help with this question from analysis of the (in any case extremely corroded) metal. The astronomical knowledge built into the Mechanism would fit the first century, but we don’t know enough about earlier Hellenistic astronomy to be able to rule out the 2nd century or even the 3rd, though such an early date would go against a lot of current assumptions about what 3rd century B.C. Greek astronomy looked like. The only independent evidence we seem to have for the date is the paleography of the abundant inscriptions which were engraved on practically all the available exterior surfaces plus some supplementary plates.


25 August, 2008

More fragments from the Diogenes inscription at Oionanda?

Filed under: news,query — Tom Elliott @ 14:39

Via Mondo Archeologia Glaucopide alerts us to a terse news item from ANSA: In Licia iscrizioni II secolo dc (with obscure photo; here via Yahoo). It reports the discovery, by an unnamed “team of archaeologists” in Lycia, of 26 fragments (some extensive) of text attributable to Diogenes of Oenoanda. I assume — and would be grateful for correction from someone affiliated with the excavation if I am wrong — that these are new fragments of the famous Epicurean inscription at Oenoanda (near modern İncealiler in Turkey).

If you can provide further information on this find, please post a comment.

25 June, 2008

Inscriptions as Evidence for Language and Dialect in Ancient Macedonia

Filed under: query — Tom Elliott @ 14:04

Last Saturday, Daniel Tompkins started an interesting discussion on the Classics-L list by asking:

What was the language of the ancient Macedonians? … I’d be very interested in hearing about epigraphic remains in geographic Macedonia, and in analyses of them, that might have a bearing on this question.

He’s had several helpful responses, but CurEp readers may have more to add (or may be interested in some of the sources and secondary work cited already). To see replies, select “next in topic” on the Classics-L archive page.

27 March, 2008

Dacian inscriptions with Greek graphemes from Gradistea Muncelului – Sarmizegetusa-Regia

Filed under: query — Tom Elliott @ 17:29

In a recent post to inscriptiones-l, B. Alexandru sought contact with other scholars regarding letter shapes in ancient greek alphabets. The context: current work on “some dacian incisions with greek graphemes made on numerous stone blocks from the archeologicall site of
Gradistea Muncelului – Sarmizegetusa-Regia.”

CurEp readers with relevant experience or suggestions for Alexandru are encouraged to reply via inscriptiones-l, or contact the author directly via email.

18 March, 2008

Seeking Sabazius

Filed under: query — Tom Elliott @ 21:23

In a recent post to inscriptiones-l, Gil Renberg asks:

I am wondering whether anyone has a list of Latin and Greek dedications to Jupiter/Zeus Sabazius published since the appearance of CCIS. I am working on a restoration of a Latin inscription that might be for Sabazius and need to check for comparanda for certain epithets.

Gil is particularly interested in inscriptions that might have escaped citation in one of the standard annual round-ups. Anyone with suggestions is invited to post a comment here, or reply to Gil on-list.

22 February, 2008

Query: A Hadrianic boundary marker from Bulgaria

Filed under: query — Tom Elliott @ 15:57

Yesterday I posted an article on my blog entitled “Demarcation between the T(h)races and Moesi“. I have a photograph of an inscribed boundary marker — which clearly belongs to a well-documented instance of boundary demarcation in AD 135 — but have not been able to find a corresponding publication of this particular text. I do know of 8 other relevant published markers.

I’m hoping CurEp readers can help.

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