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Epigraphy: Ancient Greek Inscriptions

Project Team

Dr. Anna M. Sitz

Archaeologist, Universität Heidelberg

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Koray KONUK

Assistant Director, Archaeologist - Numismatist, CNRS - Bordeaux Montaigne University, Ausonius Institute

Ancient Greek inscriptions carved on marble or other stone allow us to hear directly from ancient people of the Carian Chersonnesos, in their own words. These texts may present political decisions, records of donations, honors given to favorite citizens or foreign friends, celebrations of victory in athletic competitions, or grave texts. These inscriptions were important for defining the community at Phoenix, linking it with the wider Greek world, and maintaining good relations with gods, neighbors, and family members.

Currently, thirty-two inscriptions from Phoenix have been published. The majority are short grave texts, others are political or religious in nature. The dates of these texts range from the fourth century BC to the fifth century AD, when Christianity became popular in the late Roman empire. Some are carved on statue bases or wall blocks while others are carved directly into the bedrock, becoming permanent features of the landscape. These texts offer us important information about the lives of people at the time they were carved, their connections with the wider Rhodian Peraia, and their political, social, and sacred priorities.

Inscriptions, however, were important not only at the time of their original creation, but for centuries afterwards – even up until the present day. Many ancient, Hellenistic inscriptions were built into an early Christian church at Phoenix, while numerous others were built into modern houses at Taşlıca. These “afterlives” of inscriptions have rarely been the focus of epigraphic research (that is, research on inscriptions). PAP therefore presents an exciting opportunity to study these stones holistically rather than as isolated historical records, investigating the local inscriptions as active features of the landscape and settlement across the centuries.  The goals of the PAP epigraphy project are therefore:

  1. Re-locate and document already-published inscriptions, noting their current preservation in relation to earlier publications.
  2. Document, read, and publish any newly-discovered inscriptions that may be revealed by the project. In particular, this work is expected to provide critical new data on religious institutions for the PAP Cult research. Special attention will also be paid to findspots, visibility, re-use as building blocks in later structures, and physical characteristics.
  3. Write a “social history” of the inscriptions of Phoenix, which investigates their role in the community both in the ancient period as well as in the Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman, and present-day periods. The project will therefore intersect with the Oral History and Cultural Heritage research at Phoenix to better understand how these inscribed stones are thought of by local populations today. Translations from ancient Greek to Turkish and English will make these texts more accessible to a wider audience.

Anna M. Sitz is a Postdoc at the Universität Heidelberg in Germany, where she is leading a project on inscriptions at Greek sanctuaries. She comes from the US originally and completed her PhD at UPenn in 2017 with a dissertation titled “The Writing on the Wall: Inscriptions and Memory in the Temples of Late Antique Greece and Asia Minor.” This research combined epigraphic and archaeological approaches to explore the continued use and preservation of ancient, pagan inscriptions in the early Christian world. She is especially interested in the role that inscriptions played in the religious and social changes that took place in the late Roman empire. During her PhD, she spent two years in Athens at the ASCSA (American School of Classical Studies at Athens) and also held a CAORC Mediterranean Fellowship in Ankara at ARIT (American Research Institute in Turkey). In addition to Phoenix, she has done research on Byzantine Kappadokia and is currently leading the excavation of a medieval Christian cemetery at Labraunda in Karia. Her teaching at Heidelberg introduces students to subjects such as “Paganism in Late Antiquity,” “Constantine the Great,” and “Greek Identity in Asia Minor.”

Koray Konuk holds a tenured position at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) as an Associate Research Professor. His main interests are in the history of early coins as well as the history and archaeology of Caria, a region of southwest Asia Minor.

After studies in Classical Archaeology and Political Science in Louvain followed by a doctoral degree in Oxford, he was appointed as a Curator of ancient coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum and an invited university Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics of Cambridge University.

He has led archaeological field surveys in the Ceramic Gulf in Caria and headed the French archaeological mission at the ancient site of Euromos. He has been a visiting scholar in Oxford, Istanbul, and at the American Numismatic Society in NYC. He is currently directing a collaborative internet-based project called Historia Numorum Online which aims to record Greek coin types, the current volume being on Carian mints: http://hno.huma-num.fr/.

He is a co-editor of the new Bulletin Numismatique de l’Asie Mineure and of the International Journal of Ancient Mediterranean Studies: Philia; as well as a member of the editorial board of the following academic journals: Anatolia Antiqua (Istanbul), Anadolu (Ankara), Archaeologia Maeandrica (ARMA, Aydın), Arkeoloji ve Sanat Dergisi (Istanbul).