Greek epigraphy


The Greek alphabet was created from the Phoenician through the transformation of unused consonants into vowels. Greek inscriptions can be found from the early 8th century BC, first on ceramics, then on stone and metal. From the 6th century BC, public documents such as laws, referenda and contracts, as well as financial reports and the like, were recorded in inscriptions. These documents provide a unique look into the political mechanisms, the prevailing trends and their representatives, and the diplomatic relations of the time. With Hellenistic culture, Greek inscriptions spread throughout the entire antique world. After the inclusion of the eastern Mediterranean into the Roman Empire, they also provide valuable written testimonies of Roman administration.

Inscriptions are among the most important new sources concerning antiquity: Each year, more than a thousand new inscriptions are published, expanding our knowledge especially about regions and areas of life outside the focus of ancient writers. Unlike these authors, who came mostly from the upper classes and were especially interested in political and military developments, inscriptions offer invaluable information namely on the social, cultural and religious conditions of the time. However, their often fragmentary condition and the breadth of content requires considerable background knowledge and experience in order to properly understand the usually incomplete finds and correctly interpret them.

Our Department has a long tradition in the field of Greek epigraphy, embodied by researchers such as Adolf Wilhelm and Josef Keil. Current edition projects, in part in cooperation with the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Austrian Archaeological Institute; research group Epigraphy of the Division. Documenta Antiqua at the Institute for the Study of Ancient Culture) include: Ephesos (Thomas Corsten, Hans Taeuber, Vera Hofmann); Lycia and Pisidia (Thomas Corsten), Olympia (Peter Siewert, Hans Taeuber). In addition, the Department participates in the international cooperation that

annually publishes the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (SEG) (Thomas Corsten, Veronika Scheibelreiter-Gail, responsible for Asia Minor).