Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt

Alexandra Villing, Marianne Bergeron, Giorgos Bourogiannis, Alan Johnston, François Leclère, Aurélia Masson and Ross Thomas

With Daniel von Recklinghausen, Jeffrey Spencer, Valerie Smallwood, Virginia Webb and Susan Woodford

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Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
  • Christian Levett and the Mougins Museum of Classical Art
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Ceramic inscriptions


Alan Johnston

With some 2,800 preserved fragments, the Greek inscriptions on pottery from Naukratis constitute the largest such corpus to date known from any site. The body of material presented in this catalogue more than doubles what had previously been known to scholars, and for the first time the inscriptions are not presented in isolation, but as an integral part of their ceramic context.

Texts were either painted (dipinti) or incised (graffiti), often for the purpose of dedicating a vessel to a deity, but also to mark ownership or for other reasons. Particularly remarkable is the large number of votive inscriptions that were written before firing at the request of the dedicators. Ranging from the early 6th century BC through to the Classical and later periods, the texts present a fascinating picture of the visitors and residents of Naukratis, their overseas links and their religious practices over the centuries.

A small subgroup of painted inscriptions, those relating to and often identifying other decoration (such as name labels or kalos inscriptions), is not included here but treated in a separate chapter on Vase inscriptions.


Ceramic inscription

North Ionian large bowl with a votive dipinto to 'Aphrodite in Naukratis', 600–550 BC. British Museum, 1888,0601.531


*Please note: only British Museum objects are listed. The list of dipinti excludes a small number of objects.