Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.12.02

G. H. R. Horsley, The Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the Burdur Archaeological Museum. Regional Epigraphic Catalogues of Asia Minor V. The British Institute at Ankara Monographs, 34.   London:  The British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 2007.  Pp. xviii, 321; 362 pl.  ISBN 9781898249184.  $120.00.  

Reviewed by Gil H. Renberg, Ann Arbor (
Word count: 1784 words

As the fifth contribution to the "Regional Epigraphic Catalogues of Asia Minor" series, this volume (abbreviated I.BurdurMus) provides a significant contribution to scholarship on central Anatolia by making available the epigraphical holdings of the Burdur Archaeological Museum, many for the first time. The corpus is primarily the work of G. H. R. Horsley (henceforth H.), but R. A. Kearsley (henceforth K.) also contributed many entries, and translations of the texts into Turkish were provided by N. Alp. The nature and range of the materials included will make I.BurdurMus valuable not only to those who study Asia Minor in general, but also to historians interested in evidence for Hellenization and Romanization, scholars of ancient religion, those who study literacy or Greek linguistics, and art historians whose focus is provincial art. H. and K. have done an excellent job making these materials accessible, both in their presentation of each object and their wide-ranging commentaries.

The volume itself is in many ways a model example of an epigraphical corpus: in addition to the detailed commentaries covering numerous issues related to both reading and contextualizing each text and the object on which it is inscribed, the editors provide one or more photos of nearly every entry as well as a translation of each text. Moreover, the volume is thoroughly indexed and features a detailed color map of the region in which these monuments originated, as well as helpful introductory materials. The end result is a corpus that could not be easier for those who are not specialists in epigraphy to consult, but will be of no less value to those who are. This is especially gratifying because the museum's epigraphical holdings, representing one of the richest collections in Turkey, have not previously been the subject of a corpus, and more than half have not been published before.

I.BurdurMus is arranged as follows:

"Introduction" (pp. 1-8): H.'s introduction covers the history of the museum and its collection, gives an overview of epigraphical research in Pisidia going back to the 19th century, provides a breakdown of the types of inscribed and uninscribed objects included in the corpus, and discusses various aspects of the editors' approach and terminology. The museum itself holds artifacts dating from the Late Neolithic to Byzantine times (with a few Ottoman items as well), and has seen its collection grow significantly since its establishment in the 1950s. I.BurdurMus is devoted solely to the Greek and Latin inscriptions in the collection by 1998, though the latter are represented by a single inscription as well as another that is bilingual. There are, in all, 350 entries, of which 273 have legible inscriptions, while 77 are anepigraphic -- either intentionally or because of damage.1 With the exception of just five inscriptions that are securely dated to the Hellenistic period and three more that might also be from this period, the inscriptions all date to Roman times. The overwhelming majority of these texts, especially those dedicatory in nature, are quite short; and, with the exception of four epigrams, all are written in prose. Geographically, the catalog features mostly works from Pisidia, though a few of the entries may have come from eastern Phrygia and northern Lycia. Furthermore, the majority of these objects come from rural sanctuaries and villages, with few having originated in towns or cities -- a function, in part, of larger public inscriptions having been left on site or reused, whereas small dedicatory steles and funerary inscriptions are more easily collected and transported.

"Dedications" (pp. 9-121): I.BurdurMus Nos. 1-203 are mostly dedicatory in nature, with Nos. 1-191 for Greek and Pisidian gods, Nos. 192-199 Christian, and Nos. 200-203 unidentifiable. Constituting the largest group within the corpus, the dedications to the traditional gods reflect the richly varied nature of religion in Pisidia in Roman times. Almost exclusively private in nature, and mostly dedicated by single individuals rather than the civic bodies and other types of groups commonly found making dedications in cities, these objects are an important source for the study of private religion in this region. The traditional Greek gods are well represented, with one of the more noteworthy inscriptions being a well-carved marble pediment from a naiskos that shows Apollo standing beside an eagle of Zeus and a tripod decorated with serpents, which led H. to suggest that perhaps it came from an oracular sanctuary (No. 6). However, it is the divinities native to the region or other parts of Asia Minor, several of which were assimilated with Greek divinities, that are of particular interest. This includes: an elaborate relief honoring a hereditary priest of Artemis Ephesia (No. 21); twenty dedications to the Dioskouroi that, with one exception, employ the iconography found in the large series of small reliefs typical of certain parts of Asia Minor, rather than traditional Greek iconography (Nos. 26-45); one old and one new example of reliefs to the Lycian "Twelve Gods" (Nos. 46-47); twenty-nine small steles of varying quality dedicated to Herakles as a "Rider god" (see below), in contrast to the two employing his traditional iconography (Nos. 52-82); four previously unpublished dedications to Hosios and Dikaios (Nos. 90-93); nine dedications for Kakasbos (see below) (Nos. 94-102); six dedications for Men, including an important one featuring a poem that has been published many times before (Nos. 105-110); ten dedications to Meter (Nos. 111-119); a dedication to Poseidon representing him as a rider god (No. 121); more than fifty reliefs of rider gods (see below), all but two of which are anepigraphic; and, ten dedications to Zeus linking him to agriculture (Nos. 190-191). Also of interest is a dedication to an unnamed "lord god above" (κυρίῳ ἄνω θεῳ̂) by an individual who on another occasion -- judging from the use of a different stone-cutter -- made a dedication to the equally anonymous theoi megaloi synnaoi (Nos. 103, 184).

"Funerary Inscriptions" (pp. 123-219): I.BurdurMus Nos. 204-325 are all funerary inscriptions, which are presented chronologically and arranged alphabetically within each period. Of particular note are: an epigram from the 2nd century B.C. that is identified by H. as the earliest known Pisidian epigram (No. 204); a small relief of a gladiator who had won fifteen victories, which K. publishes for the first time along with a well-crafted relief of an action scene from a gladiatorial combat, in which a retiarius atop a platform is trying to fend off two secutores attacking from opposite sides (No. 213); an unpublished funerary imprecation (or "tomb curse") (No. 226), along with two more funerary texts that warn of legal repercussions for tomb violations (Nos. 235, 261); and, a hybrid funerary text that records the manumission of a family slave (No. 248). The section also features a useful discussion of funerary practices in the region, in the commentary to No. 234.

"Public Inscriptions" (pp. 221-252): I.BurdurMus Nos. 326-347 are all public inscriptions, most of which have previously been published, and a few of which are of particular importance. These are: K.'s new edition of a letter from Attalos II to Olbasa in 159 or 158 B.C. that he first published in 1994 (No. 326); an inscription that records several neighboring villages grouping together to honor a prominent individual for aiding them in an unspecified way (No. 327); a 52-line bilingual edict from the area of Sagalassos, first published three decades ago, by which a legatus pro praetore under Tiberius established the rules governing Roman officials' requisitioning of pack animals and vehicles from the local populace, so as to lessen or eliminate the abuses by those passing through the area on business (No. 335); a Latin letter of Maximinus Daia from 312 A. D., first published in 1988, sent to the people of Kolbasa to provide guidance regarding the treatment of Christians (No. 338); and, a previously unpublished fragment from what appears to be a lex sacra (No. 340).

"Other Inscriptions" (pp. 253-254): Nos. 349-350 are two indecipherable Byzantine texts.

"Excursus: The Rider god steles and related monuments at Burdur Archaeological Museum" (pp. 255-274): Since so many of the epigraphical and anepigraphic monuments included in I.BurdurMus are small steles belonging to the group of hundreds of "rider god" reliefs found in parts of Asia Minor and Thrace, H. ends his volume with a detailed and important analysis of a sub-group that is especially well represented in the museum's collection.2 Like all rider god reliefs, those on which H. focuses his attention -- and which he distinguishes by means of capitalization, i. e. "Rider god" -- represent a male divinity on horseback, but each figure is brandishing a club with his raised right arm. Such reliefs of club-wielding divinities are found in Lycia and Pisidia, and as H. shows are a "distinct local type" (p. 256) that does not share some of the attributes found elsewhere, such as lances and hunting dogs. The museum owns more than fifty of these reliefs, which are typically carved into limestone steles but in two cases appear on bomoi, and which though varying in style and purpose clearly belong to the same iconographic group. Like the reliefs dedicated to the Dioskouroi or the Lycian "Twelve Gods" (see above), these represent a rural phenomenon, and most likely originated at open-air shrines. The gods named in the inscribed Rider god reliefs were primarily Herakles and the native god Kakasbos (possibly a military god), which leads H. to conclude not that Kakasbos was a Pisidian version of Herakles, but that Herakles's omnipresent club probably led him to be assimilated to Kakasbos and put on horseback. To H., "The popularity of Kakasbos and of Herakles is to be understood largely in terms of the Pisidians and their increasingly Hellenised and Romanised descendants thinking back in the vaguest terms to their reputation as warriors: it is homage to the memory of their past fierce independence" (p. 274). In addition to his treatment of the iconography and its potential symbolism, H. provides a valuable analysis of the preparation of these reliefs as well as associated issues regarding literacy and linguistic Hellenization in areas far from the great centers of learning, investigating whether the reliefs and inscriptions, respectively, were the product of trained masons or the worshipers themselves.

Overall, I.BurdurMus is a fine piece of work by two accomplished scholars, and should be equally welcomed by those whose focus is ancient texts and those who study ancient art. New inscriptions each receive a thorough and reliable editio princeps, while inscriptions that had already appeared are also presented well, and often improved upon. Likewise, the more than two hundred reliefs and sculptures in this volume are the subject of detailed commentaries and photos. This volume, therefore, does an excellent job further illuminating this interesting corner of the ancient world from Hellenistic times into Late Antiquity.


1.   Regrettably, nearly three dozen inscriptions on instrumenta domestica, jewels and other items not made from stone, including a metal statuette of Zeus with thunderbolt that is on display in the museum, were omitted, though H.. does provide a list (p. 8).
2.   The main study of this phenomenon is Inci Delemen, Anatolian Rider-Gods: A Study on Stone Finds from the Regions of Lycia, Pisidia, Isauria, Lycaonia, Phrygia, Lydia and Caria in the Late Roman Period (Asia Minor Studien 35; Bonn, 1999). Delemen's volume includes a corpus of almost 400 dedications, half of which are inscribed. Though agreeing on a number of points, H. also makes some significant corrections to Delemen's work and issues several notes of caution regarding specific interpretations of the iconography. The Thracian reliefs are now the subject of an extensive study that appeared too late for H. to consult: Manfred Oppermann, Der Thrakische Reiter des Ostbalkanraumes im Spannungsfeld von Graecitas, Romanitas und lokalen Traditionen (Langenweissbach, 2006).

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