- Museum number
Rectangular marble statue base with a carved bilingual/bigraphic inscription in Phoenician (Phoenician alphabet) and Cypriot Greek (Cypro-Syllabic script). The maximum width and depth of the stone are preserved, but the upper front surface of the stone is damaged on both the top left and especially at the top right and along the right side where the beginning of both the Phoenician and the Greek texts are missing. The top of the base is also damaged, though the maximum preserved height in the middle appears to represent more or less the top of the base; however, the surface at the front looks like it has been hacked or chiselled, perhaps to remove the statue (if this had been made of metal) so there may have been some loss of the original height. At the back left of the top surface is a deep oval trough, probably for securing the statue mentioned in the inscription; again, this is likely to have been mutilated in order to remove any metal. There are no corresponding holes on the right side or elsewhere on the top surface, though the top right is particularly damaged. The back of the pedestal is roughly chiselled but not broken in the way that the top has been mutilated, suggesting that that this is the original surface; the rough finish suggests that it was not meant to be seen and was probably placed against a wall or another pedestal when originally erected.
The Phoenician text consists of three lines, written right to left (sinistrograde), but is incomplete on both sides. The Cypro-Syllabic text occupies four lines, also sinistrograde, of which the beginning of the first three lines are also incomplete, but are fully preserved on the left side.
- Production date
- 388-387 BC
Height: 27 centimetres (max. preserved)
Weight: 64 kilograms
Width: 40.50 centimetres
Depth: 22 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The statue associated with this pedestal cannot be identified, though given the dimensions of the stone this was probably no more than half-lifesize. Neither text indicates the material, and a stone or bronze statue are possible, the latter especially so given the dowel (?) hole in the top surface. A more remote possiblity is that inscription simply marked the erection of the statue in the shrine rather than serving as an actual base.
The pedestal was found in the central part of the shrine along with five other Phoenician inscriptions and one Greek alphabetic example. It was this bilingual inscription that assisted the first decipherment of the Cypro-Syllabic script in the 1870s by the British Assyriologist Sidney Smith and Samuel Birch.
The date is based on the regnal year of Milkyaton. An inscription found in 1990 recording a victory over his enemies (the Paphians and presumably the Salaminians as well) was erected in the first year of his reign (see Yon 2004, 201 no. 1144). BM 125315 (1872,8-16.80) = Yon 2004, 78 no. 68 was erected in Milkyaton's second regnal year.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature of the United Kingdom, vol. 11, p. 37 Transaction of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, Vol I, p.129
Schwyzer, Dialectorum Graecarum exempla epigraphica potiora..., Lepizig 1923, 680.
Photo notes : Album 27/2
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018, Jan-Jun, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Early Writing Systems Exhibition
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number