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Marble stela with a Greek inscription: decree of the Council and People of Tomis, a Greek city on the west coast of the Black Sea, in honour of Aurelius Priscius Annianus and his wife Julia Apolauste.
- Production date
Diameter: 13 centimetres
Height: 101.60 centimetres
Width: 83.82 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The inscription is a dedication from the council (boule) and the people (demos) of the Great City (metropolis) of Tomis, a Greek city on the west coast of the Euxine (euonumos = the Black Sea). Known as Costanţa today, it is now the oldest city of Romania. The title used for the ruler of the city, Pontarchon, meaning “the ruler of the sea”, finds epigraphical parallels in contemporary inscriptions from the same region also in connection with sovereignty (BM 174; Matei-Popescu 2011: 307). Apart from proclamation as an executive power all over the Black Sea, the practice of naming city rulers of this region as such might have its roots in the cult of Achilles Pontarches. This hero-deity was worshipped to an equal level with Poseidon all along the coastal areas of the Euxine (Quint. Smyrn. 3,770-779) evidently up to Roman times (Hovell Minns 2011: 476). The integration of political and religious leaderships into a single title – with all its references in political history of the Roman Empire - finds executive expressions in other parts of the text. Pontarchon Aurelius is praised for his commitment towards his appointed duties as a Chief Priest of the cult of emperor (Hooker 1990: 286), and his wife receives tributes as a priestess.
The inscription begins with an address to the deity of luck, Agathe (= good) Tyche. This again can be presumed to be a common practice in the Greco-Roman world with many epigraphical examples. From the mid-fourth century onwards, Tyche was revered “as a protector of civic fortune” in Athens with “more than thousand inscriptions dating from 360 to 318” headed the supplication to Agathe Tyche (Smith 2003: 25). Added to this are two other inscriptions from Tomis, which bear the same supplication (cited in Matei-Popescu 2011: 307-308), while yet another one addresses Hagia (= holy) Tyche (BM 174).
The grey white colour of the stone might indicate that the marble is the so-called Bianco Sivec, the dolomitic marble of Macedonia, whose extraction reportedly started around 500 BC and enjoyed a long-term heyday in south-east Europe from the fourth century BC to the sixth century AD. It is an ideal material to be used for sculpture and architecture due to its fine grain (Thassos Marble 2015: Bianco Sivec).
- Cook, B. F. 1987. Reading the Past: Greek Inscriptions. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Hooker, J. T. 1990. Reading the Past: Ancient Writing from Cuneiform to the Alphabet. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Hovell Minns, E. 2011. Scythians and Greeks: A Survey of Ancient History and Archaeology on the North Coast of the Euxine from the Danube to the Caucasus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Matei-Popescu, F. 2011. A Greek Inscription from Tomis (MNA L 419). In Piso, I., Rusu-Bolinder, V., Varga, R. (eds.), Scripta Classica: Radu Ardevan sexagenario dedicate, Cluj-Napoca: Mega.
- Smith, A. C. 2003. Athenian Political Art from the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BCE: Images of Political Personifications. In C.W. Blackwell, ed., Dēmos: Classical Athenian Democracy (A. Mahoney and R. Scaife, eds., The Stoa: a consortium for electronic publication in the humanities [www.stoa.org]) edition of January 18 2003.
ThassosMarble.com, 2015. Bianco Sivec.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
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