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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

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On display

Room 70: Roman Empire 

Object details

Height: 79.375 cm
Width: 36.83 cm
Depth: 66.04 cm
Museum number: GR 1859,1226.19

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Stele of Lucius

Found at Didyma, (modern Didim, Turkey)

An athlete who ‘competed in a manner worthy of victory’.

This inscription honours a Roman athlete called Lucius, son of Lucius, for his sporting achievements. The back of the stone block is broken away so we cannot tell whether it once supported a statue of Lucius or was simply an honorary inscription perhaps set into a wall.

The inscription says that Lucius ‘won at the Didymaean games, competed for the crown at Olympia, and competed in all the other athletic festivals in a manner worthy of victory’.

Apart from his success in the local games at Didyma, it seems that Lucius could not claim any victories at the main Olympic Games.

Usually only athletes who came first were commemorated with inscriptions. We don’t know why Lucius was singled out to be honoured in this way, but he may have been a celebrated local citizen or perhaps Didyma could not boast many entrants in the major Games.

The games at Didyma were held in honour of Apollo, within the god’s sanctuary.


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References

J Swaddling, The Ancient Olympic Games (London, The British Museum Press, 2011)