Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Epigraphy Workshops, Michaelmas Term 2015

All meetings at 1.00 in the First Floor Seminar Room, Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles.

Monday, October 19: Supratik Baralay, 'Aggressive Correspondence: The new letters of Lucius Aemilius Paullus to Gonnoi'

Monday, October 26: Milena Melfi, ‘Some thoughts on the cult of the Pantheon (‘All the Gods’?) in Roman Greece’

Monday, November 2: Paul Kosmin, ‘A New Text and New Readings from Diadoch Babylon’

Monday, November 9: Christian Wallner, ‘Tituli novi from Tavlon or Pisidian Antioch’ (title and date tbc)

Monday, November 23: Emanuel Zingg, ‘Apollon Karneios, Apollon Triopios, and Aphrodite in Cnidus’

Monday, November 30: Riet van Bremen, ‘A new Olympichos inscription from Mylasa’

All welcome!

Charles Crowther, Robert Parker, Jonathan Prag


The CSAD is 20 years old

On the evening of Tuesday October 6th, the CSAD celebrated its 20th birthday. The Centre was founded in 1995 by Alan Bowman, who then enlisted Charles Crowther, at that time teaching in China. Initially housed in one room in 67 St. Giles, Oxford, the Centre now occupies custom designed premises on the second floor of the beautifully extended new incarnation of the same building, which houses the Ioannou Centre for Research in Classical and Byzantine Studies.
happy Charles.jpg
Everyone who has been part of the CSAD since its beginnings was invited to the celebrations, including past Lewis lecturers, past and present project researchers, and a wide variety of collaborators. Alan Bowman gave a short speech, thanking all those who have helped establish the CSAD as the research centre of national and international importance it has become.
Alan's speech.jpg
Hannah Cornwell baked, and Janie Masseglia decorated, a spectacular cake "inscription" to mark the occasion. The cake was a copy of the marble replica of an inscription from Caerleon, made by Richard Grasby, which since its installation in 2013 at the entrance to the CSAD has become the Centre's emblem.
cake with candles.jpg

the ladies wot cake.jpgThe party was held in the Common Room of the Ioannou Centre, with champagne and delicious canapés on offer, appropriate to the momentous occasion. There was a display of photographs of the people and activities of the CSAD over the twenty year period, and some full size photographs of Greek inscriptions from Ptolemaic Egypt destined for more long term display in the Classics Outreach Room in January and February 2016, as part of the current CPI project. Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all.


Practical Epigraphy Workshop in Corbridge

At the end of June the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents sent a detachment northwards to the Stanegate and to the Roman fort of Corbridge for the Practical Epigraphy Workshop 2015.

Corbridge PEW 2015

An international group of enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate students came together to learn and practice the essential skills of the study of inscriptions in the field using inscriptions from the museum's collection supplemented by one or two items that had been rediscovered very recently. Participants practiced the arts of recording epigraphic texts by drawing, photographing, and making squeezes. A field trip to Hexham supplemented the course with a demonstration of RTI in action in the Abbey's Saxon crypt. Most participants stayed on after the close of the course to visit other Roman sites in the area. These began with an excursion to the impressive collection of inscriptions at Chesters, and subsequently included a late-night stroll to the wall at Steel Rigg, a more bracing expedition to the Roman quarries and signalling tower above Vindolanda as well as the site itself, and a broad sweep of the western central section taking in the mile-castle at Poltross Burn and Roman Bridge at Willowford. The instructors were Charles Crowther and Roger Tomlin, the course directors Peter Haarer and Abigail Graham (Warwick), and vital support was provided back at the CSAD by Maggy Sasanow.

Plans are already well advanced for the next Practical Epigraphy Workshop which will be held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford on 21-23 June 2016.


Newsletter 18 published

Newsletter 18Newsletter 18 has now been published, and is available for download here:

Download file "Newsletter18-print.pdf"


Epigraphy Workshop, Trinity Term week 1

The Dedication of Phialai by Metics and Citizens, Or Applying Ockham’s Razor to the Interpretation of Some Attic Inscriptions

Edward M. Harris (Durham and Edinburgh)

Harris discussed a group of thirty-three fragmentary inscriptions from Athens that record dedications of phialai and are dated to the late fourth century BCE. All these inscriptions have recently been re-published by E. Meyer. These inscriptions contain entries in a standard form: they begin with the name of a man or a woman in the nominative followed by the second aorist participle of the verb apopheugo. The participle should be translated “having been acquitted” because one of the fragments () indicates that the dedications are related to trials. Most of the names in the nominative are those of metics, but some are those of citizens. The participle is followed by a name in the accusative, often that of a metic, but sometimes that of a citizen (in a few cases citizens of foreign communities). At the end of each entry is the word phiale (often abbreviated), the noun stathmon (by weight), and the acrophonic number for one hundred. One of the fragments (IG ii21560) identifies the objects as dedications.

Ever since the late nineteenth century these inscriptions have been linked to IG ii21469, lines 5-6, 15-16 and called the “freedmen’s bowls.” Wilamowitz believed that the trials mentioned were fictive legal procedures in a dike apostasiou, which were in essence manumissions of slaves. He accordingly restored a reference to such trials and the Polemarch, who presided over these trials, in the heading to one of these inscriptions (IG ii21578, lines 1-2). As a result, the names in these inscriptions have often been used in the onomastics of Athenian slavery. Harris showed that Wilamowitz’s restoration of polemarchountos was without parallel in Attic inscriptions and that such fictive legal procedures, characteristic of Roman Law, are not found in Athenian Law. There was also no reason to create such a procedure to free slaves because masters could do this without the intervention of the state. The recent attempt of E. Meyer to connect the dedications with trials on the graphe aprostasiou is impossible because some of the defendants are Athenian citizens, who would not be prosecuted on this charge. Meyer also sees the dedications as a penalty, but the phialai are dedicated by successful defendants, not unsuccessful prosecutors (Bresson).

There is no need to invent implausible hypotheses about these inscriptions; they are what they are, namely, inventories of phialai dedicated by defendants for being acquitted at trials. They are not records of trials, which contained different information. What these inscriptions show is that metics were often involved in legal proceedings either with citizens or other metics and that the courts were not just arenas for elite competition. Harris concluded by discussing the literary evidence for metics in Athenian courts and showed that they were not at a serious disadvantage. The benefits of equality before the law were extended to all free residents of Attica.


Philae Obelisk : RTI of the Greek text completed

Several weeks after the main campaign of imaging of the Philae obelisk in the grounds of the Kingston Lacy Estate in Dorset, Charles Crowther and Ben Altshuler have returned to Dorset to complete the RTI imaging of the Greek inscription at the foot of the obelisk. It was not possible to complete this part of the obelisk along with the hieroglyphic inscription in November, as the original scaffolding had been constructed in a way that restricted access to the lower portion, where the Greek text is inscribed.
CSAD team carrying out RTI of the Greek text on the Obelisk at Kingston Lacy
Charles and Ben, and two assistants, Gwyneth Thomas and Dominic Chambers, returned last week to Kingston Lacy on a glorious sunny Spring day; ideal conditions for most visitors to these beautiful grounds, but for the RTI team such direct bright sunlight makes the imaging quite problematical, and much time was spent rigging up shading tarpaulins so that a series of images under raking light at various angles could still be achieved. However it is hoped that the results will be as good as those of the upper parts of the obelisk, and that improved readings of the damaged and eroded parts of the Greek text will now become legible.


Epigraphy Workshops : Trinity Term

All meetings at 1.00 in the First Floor Seminar room, Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles, except that on May 4 which will be in the lecture theatre (and will potentially last until 2.30).

Monday, April 27: Ed Harris, ‘The Dedication of Phialai by Metics and Citizens, Or Applying Ockham’s Razor to the Interpretation of Some Attic Inscriptions’.

Monday, May 4: Christian Marek, 'God or ruler cult? A new hymn at the Hekatomnid tomb of Mylasa'.

Monday, May 11: Peter Thonemann, ‘The Martyrdom of St Ariadne of Prymnessos’.

Monday, May 18: Dragana Mladenovich and Georgy Kantor, ‘Unpublished inscriptions from the Tiber waterfront’.

Monday, May 25: Anna Heller, ‘Greek honorific inscriptions from the Imperial period: a quantitative approach’.

Monday June 8, Jean-Sebastien Balzat, ‘Romans on Delos: an onomastic approach’.

Monday, June 15 : Akiko Moroo, ‘ “Barbaroi” in Attic inscriptions’.

All welcome!

Charles Crowther, Robert Parker, Jonathan Prag


"Manuscript to Megabyte"

The University of Oxford's Public Affairs Directorate is currently conducting a series of discussions entitled "Manuscript to Megabyte", asking how our relationship with information has changed from ancient documents to modern microchips. One of these themed discussions was recently with Janie Masseglia of the CSAD's AshLI (Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions) project, focussing specifically on the CSAD and its development and use of RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging). The interview can be accessed here.


Richard Grasby - Master Letter Carver

Following the sad news of Richard Grasby's death, CSAD would like to share a short video taken in 2011 of Richard demonstrating the art of letter cutting. A commentator on the original video referred to Richard as a 'Master Letter Carver', and spoke of the wonderful art he demonstrated, calling it 'the science of remembering'. This is how we remember Richard, sharing his knowledge and love of letter cutting with charm and wit.

To play the video click here.

Richard Grasby.jpg


Richard Grasby

It is with great sorrow that we announce the death on April 4th 2015 of Richard Grasby, author of Processes in the Making of Roman Inscriptions, and long term associate of the CSAD. He will be sadly missed by us all.


Epigraphy Workshop special session; Monday February 16th 1.00

Since the Epigraphy Workshop slot on February 16th has not been allocated, John Ma has suggested holding a special informal session on the attached short papyrus, a new fragment of diadoch history, and anyone interested is invited to attend: 1.00 in the first floor seminar room, Ioannou School, as usual.
Download file "P.Monts.Roca IV.pdf"


National Trust Bulletin feature article

We are proud to see that our RTI / CPI imaging campaign of the Philae obelisk at Kingston Lacy has taken the front page of the National Trust's Winter 2014-15 issue of their Arts, Buildings, Collections Bulletin. The article, and the complete ABC Bulletin can be downloaded here:
Download file "ABCWinter2014.pdf"

ABC Bulletin


RTI imaging of the Philae obelisk at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Our RTI intern Ben Altshuler, and Kyriakos Savvopoulos, researcher on our CPI project, have published a short film on YouTube, explaining the RTI imaging recently carried out on an obelisk from Philae, now housed in the grounds of the Kingston Lacy Estate in Dorset. The imaging work was timed to coincide with the European Space Agency's mission, named Rosetta, which successfully landed the obelisk's robotic namesake, Philae, on the surface of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12th 2014.
To play the film click here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kteEmpgslb0&feature=youtu.be


Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancient World

Mary Beard uncovers Alan Bowman’s ground-breaking work at Oxford University’s Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents – where the use of an innovative technique known as Reflectance Transformation Imaging is helping to shed new light on ancient artefacts, and revealing secrets hidden for thousands of years. The film can be viewed by clicking here:



Epigraphy Workshop Hilary Term 2015

Oxford Epigraphy Workshop, Hilary Term 2015

Please note the extraordinary meeting on January 22, and the vacancy on February 16.
All meetings at 1.00 in the First Floor Seminar Room, Ioannou School except the extraordinary meeting on Thursday January 22:
Thursday, January 22 at 5 pm (Ioannou, Lecture theatre): B. Helly and R. Bouchon (Lyon, CNRS, Hisoma): ‘Territorial changes in Northern Pelasgiotis (Thessaly) after the Third Macedonian War: two new inscriptions from Dolichè and Larisa’.
Monday, Jan. 26: William Slater, ‘Puzzle mosaics and their epigraphy’.
Monday, Feb. 2: Nicholas Purcell, 'Grain, Africa, bakers, bankers, profit and the Forum Boarium in a new decree of the order of Regales in Hadrianic Formiae'.
Monday, Feb. 9 : Robert Parker, ‘4216 lead question tablets from Dodona’.
Monday, Feb. 16: tbc- open to offers.
Monday, March 2: Jonathan Prag, ‘From the I. Sicily project’.
Monday, March 9: Alison Cooley, 'New discoveries among the Ashmolean's Collection of Latin inscriptions'.
Charles Crowther, Robert Parker, Jonathan Prag


Epigraphy Workshop 10th November

Jonathan Prag, Sebastian Rahtz, Robert Parker - 'Lexicon of Greek Personal Names: the perils and potential of digital data'.

On Monday 10th November Jonathan Prag (Merton College), Robert Parker (New College) and Sebastian Rahtz (Chief Data Architect, IT services) spoke on the importance of how research projects should engage with digital data storage, with particular reference to the history the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names

The main concerns that were stressed as regards the importance of digital data were:
  • The re-use of data for unforeseen purposes
  • using open standards for semantic interoperability
  • Exposing data consistently and persistently
  • moving to being independent of technology

For further information on the management and storage of research data:http://researchdata.ox.ac.uk/


Epigraphy Workshop 3rd November

Charles Crowther - Cilicia and the Commagenian Dynasty

In a remarkable demonstration of reverse engineering, Charles Crowther (CSAD) presented a Greek inscription found in 2000 at Göçük Asarı, a hill site in western Turkey (ancient Cilicia). The original text is currently being prepared for published by M. Sayar, but a preliminary translation in English has been published, and Crowther offered a potential translation back into ancient Greek from the English, in order to discuss the inscription. The inscription appears to date from the reign of Antiochus IV, referred to as philokaisar and philoromaios. Crowther also offered an alternative reading of the text than that provided by the translation, suggesting that there are three different dating formulae used: 24th year of the rule of Antiochus IV; 10th year of rule for the Lukaonians and Lekonantians; 2nd year for Armenian citizens.

Along side the inscription from Göçük, Crowther also presented another text illustrating the reign of Antiochus IV. A monumental architrave inscription, originally 11m in length with bronze inlaid letters, from Elaiussa Sebaste (SEG 35, 1730) preserves part of Antiochus title, which appear to give him the titles of philokaisar kai philoromaios, whilst his father's titles appear to include philoellenos kai philopatridos. The building to which the inscription belongs has not been identified.


Epigraphy Workshop 27th October

Juliane Zacchuber - A revised reading of a decree from Bargylia: three kings, sympolities and Carian concerns
Monday 27th October.

Juliane Zacchuber (Lincoln College, Oxford) presented a new reading of a Rhodian decree, originally published by Blümel (2001, Epigraphica Anatolica 32: 94-6). The document presents an arbitration decree between Antiochus III of Syria, Philip V of Macedon, and Ptolemy V Epiphanes, in the wake of war between Antiochus and Ptolemy, and also outlines the handing over of territory to Antiochus by Philip.

Zacchuber has been able to make significant restorations to early sections of the document, which serves to emphasises the possible explusion of different groups from the land; her restorations to lines 13-14 of the text help to shed light on the identity of three cities, who formed a sympolity. Zacchuber emphasised the decree's significance for gaining insight into the concerns and fortunes of those communities of Caria, beyond the international interests of monarchs.


EpiDoc Training for CSAD Projects

Dr. Charlotte Tupman (King's College London) held a two day workshop (25-26th October) on EpiDoc for researchers of two CSAD projects: Dr. Kyriakos Savvopoulos (The Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions Project), and Dr. Hannah Cornwell (The Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions Project). The workshop was held in the CSAD project room, at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies.

The training with enable both projects to work in collaboration with EAGLE.



On Thursday 16th October, Dr. Pietro Luizzo of the The Europeana EAGLE Project met with representatives of CSAD (Prof. Alan K. Bowman and Dr. Charles Crowther) and some of its projects (AshLI, represented by Prof. Alison Cooley of Warwick University, and Dr. Jane Masséglia) along with Prof. Bryan Ward-Perkins for the Late Statues of Anquitities Project.

CSAD & EAGLE meetingCSAD & EAGLE meeting: (l-r): Dr. Jane Masséglia (AshLI), Dr. Pietro Luizzo (EAGLE), Dr. Charles Crowther (CSAD), Prof. Bryan Ward-Perkins (Late Statues of Antiquity), Prof. Alison Cooley (AshLI), and Prof. Alan Bowman (CSAD).

The aim of the meeting was to discuss co-operation between CSAD and EAGLE's portal. Projects that will be providing metadata for EAGLE are the Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions (AshLI) project (an AHRC-funded collaboration between the University of Warwick, the Ashmolean Museum and CSAD); The Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions (CPI) project, and the Roman Inscriptions of Britain (RIB) project.