Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Kingston Lacy obelisk booklet

Jane Masséglia (ed.), The Philae Obelisk: Tales from Egypt, Dorset and Outer Space, (CSAD, Oxford, 2016)

Booklet front cover

The CSAD team behind the recent study of the Philae obelisk at Kingston Lacy have joined forces with colleagues from the British Museum, UCL, GOM UK and the European Space Agency’s Philae Cometary Mission, to produce a booklet to celebrate their campaign to capture and revise the obelisk’s bilingual inscriptions.

The Philae Obelisk: Tales from Egypt, Dorset and Outer Space is aimed at the general reader, and illustrated throughout in colour. It comprises ten chapters on the life of the obelisk, from its origins in Ptolemaic Egypt and its role in the nineteenth-century decipherment of hieroglyphs, to the recent study with RTI and 3D-imaging technology and eponymous space mission.

Contributions come from Alan Bowman, Charles Crowther, Lindsay MacDonald, Rachel Mairs, Jane Masséglia, Kyriakos Savvopoulos, Sarah Norodom, Ben Altshuler, Patricia Usick, Andrew Cuffley, Ian Wright and Judith Pillinger.

Copies are available to purchase, priced £5, from the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, on the second floor of the Ioannou Centre, and by contacting Maggy Sasanow by email: margaret.sasanow@classics.ox.ac.uk


Epigraphy Workshops Trinity Term 2016

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

Monday, May 2: Theodora Jim, ‘Private Dedications to Hellenistic Monarchs’.

Monday, May 9: Georgy Kantor, ‘The New Municipal Law from Troesmis’.

Monday, May 16: Stephen Lambert, ‘Attic Inscriptions Online’.

Monday, May 23: Gregory Crane, ‘How to help epigraphic data play a wider role in the study of the ancient world’.

Monday June 6: Nathan Badoud, ‘Some unpublished inscriptions found on Rhodes by the Swedish explorer Johan Hedenborg (1786-1865)’.

Monday, June 13 : John Wilkes, ‘Syrian migrants in the Roman Balkans; late memorials from Odessos, Salona and other places'.

All welcome!

Charles Crowther, Robert Parker, Jonathan Prag


Exhibition catalogue now available

CPI Exhibition.jpg
As the Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions exhibition closes, we have produced, as a lasting record, a catalogue of the images and objects on display for the last few months. It contains an illustration of every exhibit, along with all the detailed information provided for each one.
A pdf of the catalogue can be downloaded here:
Download file "Exhibition Catalogue(PR).pdf"


Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions Conference April 1-2 2016



1-2 APRIL 2016

Provisional Programme:

Friday 1 April:

9.30 – 10.30: Alan Bowman, Introduction, the CPI project;

Dorothy Thompson, Peter Fraser and the Epigraphy of Ptolemaic Egypt

10.30.-11.00: Coffee

11.00-11.45: Kyriakos Savvopoulos, The Content of the Corpus (overview with


11.45-12.30: Rachel Mairs, The Bilingual Inscriptions: Egyptian Language Texts

12.30-1.15: Simon Hornblower, The Metrical Inscriptions

1.15-2.15: Lunch

2.15-3.00: Alan Bowman: Inscriptions of the Greek Cities

3..00-3.45: Charles Crowther: Palaeography of Ptolemaic Inscriptions

3.45-4.15: Tea

4.15-5.00: Imaging inscriptions – the Kingston Lacy obelisk [speaker tbc]

5.00-5.45: Charles Crowther and Supratik Baralay - Dedications [title tbc]

6.00: Reception

Evening: Dinner at Queens College

Saturday 2 April

9.30-10.15: Mario Paganini, Epigraphic Habits of Private Associations

10.30-11.15: Christelle Fischer Bovet [title tbc]

11.15-12.00: Willy Clarysse, Inscriptions and Papyri, two worlds with some overlaps

12.00-12.45: Closing discussion


Epigraphy Workshops, Hilary Term 2016

All meetings at 1.00 in the First Floor Seminar Room, Ioannou School

Monday, Jan. 25: Alberto Dalla Rosa, ‘Rethinking the beginnings of the procuratorial System in the province of Asia. The augustan procurator Ofilius and Aizanoi (AE 2011, 1303 = MAMA IX 13)’

Monday, Feb. 1: James Clackson, ‘A New Archaic Law from Arcadia’

Monday, Feb. 8: Robert Parker and Scott Scullion, ‘Syrian festivals in Hellenistic Thessaly: the Bombshell from Marmarini (Kernos 2015)

Monday, Feb. 15: Martin Hallmannsecker, ‘A Palm Grove, Ioudaioi, and a Gilded Ceiling: I Smyrna 697’

Monday, February 29: Joan Connelly and Ilaria Bultrighini, ‘"Digging Time: A Parapegma from Ptolemaic Yeronisos off Cyprus"

Monday, March 7: Charles, Crowther and Andy Meadows, ‘The Athenian Standards Decree: One or Many?’

Charles Crowther, Robert Parker, Jonathan Prag


Ptolemaic Inscriptions from Egypt - the Exhibition

CPI exhibition poster final.jpg

Until early April the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents is staging an exhibition of photographs relating to the Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions project (CPI) (http://cpi.csad.ox.ac.uk), in the Outreach Room of the Ioannou School, 66 St. Giles, Oxford.

The photographs include those taken by Peter M Fraser (1918-2007), whose material forms the basis for the project, and new photographs of inscriptions in situ, taken by a CPI researcher on a very recent field trip to Ptolemaic sites in Egypt.

The exhibition also includes some of Peter Fraser's notes, reference books, and correspondence from the period of his research, along with some of the squeezes (paper impressions) of inscriptions he made during the 1950s and 60s.

Opening hours 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, occasionally 9 to 6 when staff are available.

All welcome


CPI Field trip to Egypt

Philae 1.jpg
In November, Kyriakos Savvopoulos, researcher for the Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions in Egypt project (CPI), assisted by Alexandrian based research volunteer Athanasios Koutoupas, carried out a very successful two-week field trip to Egypt, recording and photographing Ptolemaic inscriptions still in situ. The project is currently accumulating many photographs of inscriptions held in museums throughout the world, but those that are still in situ are subject to damage and destruction, sometimes resulting from reconstruction and renovation works or unidentified relocation, but often from vandalism, and erosion over time.
The project is based on material collected and annotated by the late Peter Fraser FBA (1918-2007). Fraser himself took photographs of inscriptions in situ, but many of these images are now in a poor state. Updated images of such material evidence comprise a key aspect of this project not only in terms of the ‘freshness’ of the corpus, but also in terms of establishing the current state of Ptolemaic inscribed monuments still in their original location, since major alterations have taken place at several sites. The field trip targeted specifically those inscriptions in the Theban region, Abydos, el-Kanais and in the Elephantine region.

Elephantine 2b.JPG

Kyriakos has returned to Oxford with some excellent new images of inscriptions from the Ptolemaic period, many of which will be on view in the forthcoming exhibition relating to the project, due to be installed in the Outreach Room of the Ioannou Centre over the Christmas break, and open for visitors during January and February 2016. All welcome.

Philae 6.JPG


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 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