Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Michaelmas Term Epigraphy Workshops

Oxford Epigraphy Workshop, Michaelmas Term 2014

All meetings at 1.00 in the First Floor Seminar Room, Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles, except that of October 20 which will be in the Lecture Theatre, Ioannou Centre.

Monday, October 20: Peter Thonemann, ‘Croesus and the oracles: a new inscription from Thebes’

Monday, October 27: Juliane Zachhuber, 'A revised reading of a decree from Bargylia: three kings, sympolities and Carian concerns'

Monday, November 3: Charles Crowther, ‘Cilicia and the Commageneian dynasty’

Monday, November 10: Jonathan Prag, tba

Monday, November 24: Alan Bowman, Simon Hornblower, Charles Crowther, Rachel Mairs, Kyriakos Savvopoulos, ‘Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions from Egypt (CPI): some case studies’.

Monday, December 1: Susan Walker, ‘Dignitas amicorum: text on late Roman gold-glass.’

There will be a handling session in the Ashmolean after this talk: details later.


New grant for Hyperspectral Imaging

We are pleased to announce the success of a recent application, led by our Assistant Director Charles Crowther, to the John Fell Fund for grant support of a new collaborative project to provide the University with state-of-the-art hyperspectral imaging (HsI) within a bespoke laboratory in the new Weston Library. The requested equipment, essentially an advanced type of ‘camera’ capable of analytical imaging through extremely accurate and high resolution colour measurement, will be the most advanced equipment of its type available in the UK for heritage and conservation. The project is to be an internal collaboration between the Humanities Division and individual academic colleagues from within its faculties, the Digital Humanities (DH) network, the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford e-Research Centre, the School of Geography and the Environment, and the Ashmolean Museum.

Hyperspectral imaging collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum, aiming to obtain the spectrum for each pixel in the image of a scene, with the purpose of finding objects, identifying materials, or detecting processes. In the context of this new Humanities project, the advanced HsI camera equipment to be purchased will enable researchers to analyse the University’s unique research collections, to acquire data from diverse artefacts ranging from built heritage to historical manuscripts, to develop a robust approach to analysing results, and to collaborate with heritage organisations across the UK.

For the CSAD, with over 15 years of experience of multispectral imaging techniques and equipment, HsI represents the most exciting development in this field. The application of HsI to documentary material in Oxford collections has the potential to resolve details that have until now been beyond reach, whilst also bringing to light significant new documents.

The project will begin in November 2014, and will run for three years.


CSAD summer picnic

They say times flies. This is certainly true of the CSAD picnic to the Uffington White Horse, on 9th July - it seems like only yesterday we were there for our first visit organised by Maggy Sasanow and Richard Catling- but that was 3 years ago!

First spot was the White Horse (where we may or may not have made wishes on the eye of the Horse!), followed by a brisk walk to the Hill Fort, and then Wayland's Smithy (where is it said that if you left a horse, who had lost a shoe, along with a silver coin on the capstone, you would return the next day to find the horse shod and the coin gone - alas, we had neither the means nor the horse to test the legend). After some searching Maggy managed to location her own 'inscription', which proved more elusive than 3 years ago.

CSADers at Wayland's Smithy

After the walk, substantial quantities of delicious food from people's home countries were produced, including some lovely bottles of champagne, thanks to the kind support of Roger Michel, who generously sponsors the RTI work at the CSAD.



So, until next year...hopefully!


Kingston Lacy obelisk - the CSAD and the European Space Agency

The Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents has recently become involved in an unexpectedly exciting cross-discipline enterprise. Combining two of the Centre’s current projects, the Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions (CPI), and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), the CSAD has recently begun preparation for the capture of RTI and 3D interactive images of the 6.7 meter tall obelisk from Philae in Egypt, now situated in the grounds of the Kingston Lacy estate in Dorset.

Kingston Lacy obelisk.jpg

The CSAD’s three-year CPI project is currently creating a corpus of up-to-date editions of almost 500 Greek, bilingual and trilingual inscriptions on stone from Egypt during its rule by the Hellenistic dynasty founded by Ptolemy I in 323, and ending with the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC. The obelisk at Kingston Lacy is one of those important multi-lingual inscriptions, in which Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphic scripts exist alongside one other, and which in the 19th century provided clues to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The CSAD's RTI project is focussed on the development and implementation of a photographic method that captures a subject’s surface shape and colour and enables the interactive re-lighting of the subject from any direction. A particular strength of RTI is that it can reveal surface information that cannot be seen with the naked eye. While the scripts on the Kingston Lacy obelisk are in a reasonably good state of preservation, and reading is still possible, the opportunity to improve the accuracy of the text, and to find and identify elements of pigment in the inscription, provide sufficient reason for re-examining the monument. There are also considerable conservation benefits to be gained for the National Trust, which now owns the Kingston Lacy estate, through the creation of a permanent, accurate, interactive virtual image of the obelisk as it is today, since gradual deterioration of the original over time is an inevitability.

The CSAD team on site.jpg

But the biggest surprise did not come to light until after identification of the obelisk as being of particular epigraphical interest. Soon after discussions with the National Trust were begun, it was revealed that the obelisk is set to achieve considerably wider significance later this year: its name has been given to the robotic craft that in November 2014 will attempt a landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as part of a mission launched in 2004 by the European Space Agency. The main robotic spacecraft has been named Rosetta, after the famous Egyptian basalt slab, featuring a decree in three scripts, and the lander is named after the Nile island of Philae, where the Kingston Lacy obelisk was discovered. The European Space Agency hopes that, just as a comparison of the scripts on the Rosetta Stone and the obelisk led to a greater understanding of the Egyptian writing system, the Philae and Rosetta space mission will lead to a better understanding of comets and the early Solar System.

The Philae robotic lander.jpgSo it was decided that the CSAD work on the obelisk should become part of the multi-disciplinary focus on the obelisk, planned to culminate at the time of the comet landing. RTI and 3D imaging of the obelisk, together with another obelisk fragment and a sarcophagus nearby in the Kingston Lacy grounds, will be carried out over the summer and early autumn; time-lapse photography will record the process, from erection of the purpose-designed scaffolding, through the cleaning of the obelisk by the National Trust conservation department, to the RTI photography and 3D scanning; an exhibition, and the possibility of a short documentary film on the obelisk and its flamboyant history, and the CSAD’s part in recording it, are also being discussed, all to be ready to mark in style the landing of its namesake, Philae, on the comet in November.


Epigraphy Workshops Trinity Term 2014

Oxford Epigraphy Workshop, Trinity Term 2014

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

Monday, May 5: J.- C. Decourt ‘Une nouvelle lex sacra dans la région de Larissa (Thessalie)’.

Monday, May 12: tba – offers welcome

Monday, May 19: Daniele Miano, ‘Portable salvation in the fourth century BC: on bronze strigils marked in Greek from central Italy and Tyrrhenian islands’

Monday, May 26: Chris Faraone, ‘Writing Greek amulets’.

Monday June 9, Pierre Fröhlich, ‘New Inscriptions from Euromos’.

Friday, June 13 (n.b. unusual day!): Massimo Nafissi, ‘The new Iasian momument for the Hecatomnid basileis and its dedicatory epigram’.

All welcome!


Newsletter 17

The Spring 2014 CSAD Newsletter (issue number 17) has now been published. The newsletter features articles on: the completion of Richard Grasby's series of Studies Processes in the Making of Roman Inscriptions, and the installation at the CSAD of his marble replica of RIB 330, a dedicatory inscription from Caerleon, Wales; reports on the two major new projects, a Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions (CPI) and Facilitating Access to Latin inscriptions in Britain's Oldest Museum (AshLI); and and international workshop on Graffiti, held recently at Ertegun House in Oxford. Paper copies of this latest CSAD Newsletter are available from Maggy Sasanow at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents (margaret.sasanow@classics.ox.ac.uk), or a pdf can be downloaded here:
Download file "Newsletter17.pdf".


Part time Postdoc research position for Latin Inscriptions Project

The AHRC funded Latin Inscriptions in the Ashmolean Museum is now advertising for a part-time postdoctoral research assistant, to start in September 2014.

Details of the position and how to apply can be found here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/classics/research/dept_projects/latininscriptions


BES Epigraphy Workshop 2014

British Epigraphy Society

Practical Epigraphy Workshop


24- 26 June 2014

The British Epigraphy Society will hold its sixth Practical Epigraphy

Workshop this summer from 24 to 26 June at Corbridge, Northumberland.

The workshop is aimed primarily at graduates wishing to develop hands-on

skills in working with epigraphic material, though we also welcome

applications from those at any stage in their career who would like to

acquire a greater sensitivity to the gathering of epigraphic evidence.

With expert tuition, participants will gain direct experience of the practical

elements of how to record and study inscriptions. The programme will

include the making of squeezes; photographing and measuring inscribed

stones; and the production of transcriptions, translations and commentaries.

Participants may choose to work on Latin or Greek texts, and the workshop

will be open to those either with or without epigraphic training.

The course fee will be £90 for this three-day event.

Please direct enquiries about the workshop to Peter Haarer:


To apply for a place on the Workshop, please contact Maggy Sasanow

for an application form: margaret.sasanow@classics.ox.ac.uk


Epigraphy Workshops Hilary Term 2014

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

Monday, Jan. 27: Susan Walker, Dignitas amicorum: text on late Roman gold-glass.’

Susan Walker has kindly arranged an opportunity to see and handle some of the glass in question in the Ashmolean straight after the seminar, but places are limited to ten and she needs to know numbers in advance: if you’d like to take up this offer, please let Robert Parker know by Wednesday, January 22: first come, first served.

Monday, Feb. 3: Rachel Mairs, 'Greek and Demotic on the Stele of Moschion: The Interaction Between Languages and Scripts.'

Monday, Feb. 10: Robert Parker, ‘ A New Legal Soap – the territorial dispute between Messenia and Megalopolis (SEG LVIII 370).’

Monday, Feb. 17: Ed. Bispham, ‘After Imagines Italicae: the case of Lucania.’

Monday, March 3: Greg Votruba, ‘Literacy, ethnicity and religious consciousness of ancient mariners: inscriptions and pictographs on Hellenistic and Early Roman anchors.’

Monday, March 10: Ilaria Bultrighini, ‘The history and development of the seven-day week in the Roman Empire and the Near East: some notes on the epigraphic evidence.’


Launch Party for LGPN V.B and Robert Parker’s Personal Names of Ancient Anatolia

A joint launch for the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names series, Volume V.B: Coastal Asia Minor: Caria to Cilicia (OUP 2014) and Professor Robert Parker’s Personal Names of Ancient Anatolia (OUP 2013) will take place in the Outreach Room in the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies on Thursday 27 February 2014 at 5pm. Please contact Fabienne Marchand (fabienne.marchand@classics.ox.ac.uk) by Monday 24 February 2014 if you wish to attend.


CHANGE in advertised Epigraphy Workshop (4th Nov)

Ed Bispham will be unable to present his advertised paper on 'After Imagines Italicae: the case of Lucania', on Monday 4th November, week 4. Instead, Charles Crowther will be speaking on 'The Son of God in an underground sanctuary in Commagene'.


Epigraphy workshop - week 3

posted by Hannah Cornwell

Denis Rousset - The Stele of the Geleontes in the sanctuary of Claros. Purchases and gifts of land for a koinon of Colophon.

On Monday 28th October, Denis Rousset (École pratique des hautes études, Paris) presented his research on an unpublished inscription for the sanctuary of Claros. The stele, found during the French excavations of Claros in 1995, near the Temple of Apollo, documents the purchases and gifts for land for a koinon of Colophon during the second half of 3rd century BC and the 1st quarter of 2nd century BC. Rousset argues that the stele contains two successive texts, concerned with the communal land of the Geleontes.

The publication of this inscription was entrusted to Rosset by the late Philippe Gauthier, and Rousset’s research on the stele will be published in the forthcoming publication of the inscription in Journal des savants 2014, fasc. 1, and forms part of his wider research project on the inscriptions of Claros.


Epigraphy workshop, Michaelmas Term

Epigraphy Workshop, Michaelmas Term 2013

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

Monday, Oct. 21: Simon Hornblower, 'The "Lokrian Maidens Inscription" (IG 9. 1 (ed. 2) 706) and Lykophron's Alexandra (1141-1173).
Monday, Oct. 28: Denis Rousset, 'The Stele of the Geleontes in the sanctuary of Claros. Purchases and gifts of land for a koinon of Colophon'.
Monday, Nov. 4: Ed. Bispham, 'After Imagines Italicae: the case of Lucania'.
Monday, Nov. 11: Sofia Kravaritou, 'Thessalian attitudes to death: some notes on SEG XXVIII, 528 and beyond'.
Monday, Nov. 18 Polly Low and Peter Liddel, 'The koinon of the Phrikyladai: a new decree from Liverpool'.
Monday December 2: Georgy Kantor, 'Dynamis and Aspourgos in recent inscriptions from the Bosporan Kingdom'.


New AHRC funded project

The CSAD is pleased to announce the recent success of a major grant application to the AHRC for the funding of a three-year project to create a corpus of up-to-date editions of the Greek, bilingual and trilingual inscriptions on stone from Ptolemaic Egypt (323-30 BCE), numbering almost 400 items, based on material collected and annotated by the late Peter Fraser FBA (1918-2007), who was the leading authority of the 20th century in the field of hellenistic epigraphy in Egypt and the wider context. The editions will include introductory material, commentaries, translations and digital images and will be made available both in book form and on-line. The project will be led by Professors Alan Bowman and Simon Hornblower, and Dr. Charles Crowther, and the project will employ one full time postdoctoral Research Assistant for three years, beginning in Michaelmas Term 2013.

From the takeover of Egypt by Ptolemy after Alexander the Great died in 323 BCE, until the deaths of Cleopatra and Antony in 30 BCE, government and administration was conducted almost entirely in Greek, which became the predominant language. Both in the public and private spheres, epigraphic inscriptions on stone were central to Greek culture, commemoration and communication, and the Ptolemies brought this tradition with them into the newly formed hellenistic monarchy. Among hellenistic kingdoms, Egypt is unique, however, in that epigraphy in its own language survived alongside the politically dominant Greek.

The project will make available for the first time a full corpus of scholarly editions, replacing older publications and other partial collections which are organised by specific local region and therefore do not offer a full picture of Greek epigraphy of the Ptolemaic period. The new corpus will give proper weight to the importance of public and private documentation on stone, which, in Egypt, tended to be overshadowed by papyrus documents. It will illustrate the ways in which this mode of public pronouncement and display became important in what was originally a language culture 'alien' to the Greeks, not merely in 'Greek' cities such as Alexandria, Ptolemais and Naukratis, but also in indigenous Egyptian towns. Fraser's work between 1950 and the mid-1970s recognised the importance of this material and provided the basis for understanding and exploiting it. Bringing it to completion will give a deeper understanding of Ptolemaic Egypt , whilst also maximising the achievement of a great scholar.

Ptolemaic Inscription no. 137


Replica of RIB 330 installed at the CSAD

After a wait of over a year and a half, the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents has finally received on long term loan from Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, a full-size replica of a marble dedication slab from Caerleon, RIB 330.

2013-08-07 13.05.03.jpg
The replica was made by Richard Grasby, an associate member of the CSAD since 2007. Richard Grasby is a retired master of letter design and letter cutting in stone, and in 1995, as a recipient of a Hugh Last Award from the British School in Rome, he began his research on the measurement and making of Latin inscriptions. The CSAD has published a series of Studies based on this research, entitled Processes in the Making of Roman Inscriptions, in which the original marble inscription RIB 330 is subjected to rigorous measurement and geometric analysis in Study 2. The replica is a demonstration of how an understanding of the formal geometry employed during the making of a Roman inscription can help to more accurately reconstruct parts that are missing in the original.

Orig + recon.jpg
The replica is now on display on the 2nd floor landing in the Ioannou Centre for Research in Classical and Byzantine Studies, outside the main doors to the CSAD.

2013-08-07 11.08.04.jpg
2013-08-07 11.28.52.jpg2013-08-07 12.27.21.jpg2013-08-07 12.49.13.jpg


Processes in the Making of Roman Inscriptions - series completed

We are pleased to announce that Study 12, the last in the series Processes in the Making of Roman Inscriptions by Richard Grasby, has been published. The entire series of thirteen booklets, consisting of an Introduction and twelve individual Studies, will be available as a boxed set in due course.
Study 12 focusses on CIL XIV.83, a dedicatory inscription to Germanicus, on display in the Galleria Lapidaria in the Vatican Museum. Richard Grasby's choice of this inscription as a final Study in the series was deliberate, despite the fact that, or because, superficially it does not have the formal characteristics of an Imperial dedication. It is unimpressive in size, out of balance in line lengths and sparing in its text considering the many military successes of Germanicus. However the lettering emerging from the red paint suggested to Richard Grasby a worthy piece of craftsmanship if not design, and he has subjected it to exactly the same sequence of study as the largest, most formal, in the series.
Copies of all Studies in the series can be obtained from Maggy Sasanow at the CSAD.


Newsletter 16 Published

CSAD Newsletter 16 is now published, and available to download here. Paper copies are also available at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, at the Ioannou School. Please contact Maggy Sasanow, the Centre's Administrator, with your details if you would like a copy sent to you.
Download file "Newsletter16final(press).pdf"


Epigraphy Workshop, Trinity Term 4th week

posted by Hannah Cornwell

Giulia Tozzi,‘Inscribed Athenian Decrees and the Theatre of Dionysos in the Early Hellenistic Period. Some Considerations on the Posthumous Honorary Decree for Lykourgos (IG II/III2 457+3207).’

On Monday 13th May, Giulia Tozzi presented an re-examination of the evidence for the Posthomous honorary decree for Lykourgos (IG II/III2 457 + 3207). Tozzi’s current research considers the ideological value of inscriptions in the area of the theatre of Dionysos in the early Hellenistic period, and she offered arguments that the honorary decree for Lykourgos should be understood within this context.

The posthumous honorary decree, enacted in 307/6 BC by Stratokles of Diomeia in honour of the leading Athenian politician Lykourgos of Buthadai, who had died in 323 BC and be a prominent democratic politician in the 330s onwards. Tozzi argued on the basis of the find spots and contexts of the three fragments (IG II/III2 457 + 3207) that the theatre is a plausible site for the publication of the decree, particularly given Lykourgos’ links to the site, and fragment b, found near the theatre does not appear to come from a reused context.

Tozzi further argued that the inscription should be understood within the political context of 307BC and Stratokles’ own prominent role within the newly restored democracy.


Epigraphy Workshop, Hilary Term 4th Week

posted by Hannah Cornwell

Abigail Graham – Re-Appraising the Value of Same-Text Relationships; a Study of ‘Duplicate’ Inscriptions in the Monumental Landscape at Aphrodisias

On Monday 4th February, Dr. Abigail Graham (Warwick) presented a series of inscriptions from Aphrodisias in order to explore the ways in which we view inscriptions and in particular ‘same-text inscriptions’. The purpose of Dr. Graham’s discussion was to emphasise what a study of ‘same-text inscriptions’ can reveal about the relationship between text and monumental space, and what we might learn from that about the values and processes of creating a monumental inscription, both in terms of the ancient audiences’ perceptions and the very act of carving the inscription.

Dr. Graham examined the exterior and interior dedications of the Sebasteion propylon, the inscriptions recording the reconstruction of the propylon and North portico, and the dedication on the East Court at the Hadrianic Baths. She demonstrated how the presentation of the texts was dependent on the architectural space, and that functional markers and spaces were used to make sense of the message of each text. Texts were carefully arranged in the space in order to express certain values: spatial distinctions were made between recipients and benefactors, whilst civic identity and family were also emphasised.

Dr. Graham concluded by emphasising that the existence of the same text, as in the instances from Aphrodisias, does not necessarily mean the same inscription: each inscription must be treated as an individual text, and understood in terms of the process of its creations and how it would have been viewed within its monumental space.


Epigraphy Workshop, Michaelmas Term 3rd Week

posted by Hannah Cornwell

Jas Elsner, 'Visual Culture and Ancient History: Ruminations Inspired by a Stele in Athens (Acropolis Museum 1333, IG cubed 127 and IG squared 1)'

On Monday 22nd October, Jas Elsner neatly demonstrated ways in which visual culture and ancient history need to be examined together when examining inscriptions, using as an illustration the particular case of the Samos Stele, from the Athenian Acropolis.

The stele records three different decrees, the first from 405 B.C. and the second two from 403/2 B.C., concerning the relationship of Athens to Samos (IG3 127 and IG2 1), and carrying a relief of two female deities (one of which is clearly identified as Athena) shaking hands. Elsner emphasised that only one edition of the inscription has given an image of the whole stele (Rhodes & Obsorne Greek Historical Inscriptions 404-323 B.C.), whilst the first decree has been separated from the second two in epigraphic publications, based on the fact that they document different periods of political history. Thus the discipline of Ancient History has influenced and dictated how to package and use the text. Elsner pointed out that this is very much a text-based treatment of the inscription, rather than a consideration of the text as a physical object. Indeed, despite historians' desire to use the documents separately to illustrate different political periods, Elsner showed that the stele is in fact a single inscribed text; that Kephisophon, the grammateos of the 3rd decree, was reframing the 1st decree in one single display.

Elsner also argued that descriptions and interpretations of the relief are themselves far from impartial analyses. The relief appears to be a ‘type’ of image, not unique to the Samos stele, and may be understood as offering an alternative discursive framing to the text. Elsner concluded that we cannot have a definitive reading of the image and that is the point.