Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.02.05

Denis Rousset, De Lycie en Cabalide: la convention entre les Lyciens et Termessos près d'Oinoanda. Fouilles de Xanthos X. Hautes études du monde gréco-romain 45.   Genève:  Droz Librairie, 2010.  Pp. viii, 205; 50 figs..  ISBN 9782600012805.  $62.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by R. Malcolm Errington, Philipps-Universität, Marburg (

In 1993 the French excavators of the Letoon at Xanthos in Lykia unearthed an almost three meter tall inscribed stele with a massive inscription of 111 lines. It now stands in the courtyard of the museum at Fethiye. Apart from a tantalising preliminary report by Christian Le Roy in 1996 we have had to wait until 2010 for the complete and definitive publication, which Denis Rousset has now provided in his excellent new book. This offers a Greek text with good photographs of the stone, a translation into French (chapter I), a detailed commentary (chapter II) and a systematic study of the historical geography of the northern Lykian borderlands addressed in the new document, from the second century B.C. until the third century A.D. (chapters III and IV).

The text, which is extraordinarily well preserved, is a treaty between "the Termessians at Oinoanda" and the Lykian League. Dating probably from the middle years of the second century B.C. (ca. 160-150), it is also the earliest known official document of the Lykian League. The document aimed to end disputes between the Termessians at Oinoanda and the neighbouring Lykian League cities Tlos and Kadyanda. At the time of the agreement some aspects of these disputes had already been dealt with in negotiations on the island of Kos, the results of which the Termessians at Oinoanda now agreed to accept (lines 22-24). Disputed rights of transit (paragogia) and the use of some highland territory bordering Tlos and Termessos (Mt. Masa) were agreed. The mountain would belong to Tlos, but the Termessians at Oinoanda gained the right of pasturage and wood collection there (lines 27-31). A long topographical description defining the disputed territory follows (lines 31-91). At some time during the dispute an appeal to Rome had been made, as a result of which the Senate had appointed Knidos as judge, but the dispute was settled by the parties themelves before the Knidians could give their judgement (lines 91-3); part of the settlement involved the Lykians paying 25 talents to the Termessians at Oinoanda. The text of the agreement was to be published at Xanthos, Tlos, Termessos and Kaunos (lines 104-111). The Xanthian copy is the sole surviving text.

The document is dated internally by listing the eponymous priests of the partner communities: for the Lykians the priests of Roma and Apollo, for the Termessians at Oinoanda those of Zeus and Roma. For Termessos the year 34 of an otherwise unknown local era is cited as an additional dating mechanism. In both communities the month was the (originally) Macedonian Daisios, but it began on a different day in each place: for the Lykians the date of the agreement was the 21st, for the Termessians at Oinoanda the 18th of the month. Despite this precision, which was fully comprehensible to the partners to the treaty, for us only the priests of Roma offer an interpretable indication of the date. They indicate a terminus post quem of 167, as I showed in Chiron 1987, the results of which are accepted by Rousset. The 34th year at Termessos, as Rousset argues, is either the 34th year since the founding of the city from Pisidian Termessos, or it was possibly reckoned from the Peace of Apameia in 188. Certainty is impossible to achieve.

Both sides to the agreement were represented by a negotiating committee (five Lykians and seven Termessians at Oinoanda), whose names are recorded. Rousset’s careful examination of the names (they are listed with fathers and, for Termessos, grandfathers, to ensure precise identification) shows that while the Lykians all bear Greek or hellenised names, 40% of the Termessians at Oinoanda bear indigenous names. This is interpreted, doubtless correctly, as an indication of the fairly recent origin of the population of the city from Pisidian Termessos.

Rousset spills a lot of ink on a speculative and in the last resort inconclusive discussion of whether transit charges (the paragogia of lines 24-27), which were the cause of an earlier dispute beween the Termessians at Oinoanda and the Lykian cities of Tlos and Kadyanda, were federal or city charges. We simply cannot tell. He also finds the absence of mention of the Lykian city Araxa in connection with this dispute puzzling, since Araxa was nearer to Termessos than Kadyanda. But the failure to mention Araxa in this context can only mean that the Termessians at Oinoanda had no dispute with Araxa about transit charges that required a solution.

The long description of the delimitation of Mt. Masa receives a detailed commentary supported by maps, sketches and photographs, that Rousset takes up again systematically in his interpretative chapters III and IV, and which together make a magisterial contribution to the historical geography of Northern Lykia in antiquity. This will provide a firm basis for further work in the field, the details, however, would burst the limits of a review. Three other points from this very rich commentary deserve mention here. In connection with the requested intervention of the Roman Senate and the anticipated activity of Knidos, Rousset points out that we have here a unique example of the parties to a dispute reaching an agreement themselves, even after an appeal to Rome, but before the appointed third party could reach a decision: he emphasises correctly, against a view expressed by Alain Bresson in REA 1998 on the basis of a preliminary text, that it is not a question of their rejecting a decision already made by Knidos. In connection with the 25 talents that the Lykians agreed to pay to the Termessians at Oinoanda, which had to be in "new Rhodian silver ‚brickbearers’" (plinthophoroi), Rousset insists that "new" here does not mean "new coins" but "new-style coins", and that the specification was required because of the chaotic number of different coins of differing weights and standards in circulation in south-west Asia Minor in the mid- second century BC. This seems to be right. Concerning the places of publication of the treaty, Rousset correctly assesses Kaunos as a important neutral place and rejects the idea that publication there could be interpreted as an indication of political closeness between the parties to the treaty and Kaunos.

Chapter III explores the relationship of the Termessians at Oinoanda and Lykia from the second century B.C. until the third century A.D. In a full and convincing discussion of all the evidence, Rousset demonstrates conclusively what had already been suggested by M.Wörrle and J.J. Coulton, that the "Termessians at Oinoanda" and "Oinoanda" were a single community, despite the fact that at later times the shortened form "Oinoanda" was occasionally used for the city. Further points of discussion are the relationship of the Termessians at Oinoanda to the Kibyrate Tetrapolis and to the Lykian League. The Termessians at Oinoanda must have become a member of the Tetrapolis at some time after the newly published treaty, since Kibyra plays no part in it; Termessos was, however, a member when the Tetrapolis was dissolved by L.Licinius Murena between 84 and 81 B.C., but after the dissolution it did not immediately become attached to the Lykian League. In 46 B.C., the date of the recently discovered treaty between Rome and the League (now SEG 55, 1452), the frontiers of the League territories were drawn with the result of excluding the Termessians at Oinoanda (long treatment here in chapter IV, p.136f.).

In chapter IV Rousset interprets in detail parts of other documents that bear on the geographical questions raised by the new treaty; of particular interest are the honorary decree for Orthagoras of Araxa (SEG 18, 570) which, following my suggestion, he tends to date after 167, and the new Lykian treaty with Rome, which he dealt with systematically in chapter III. There is inevitably some minor repetition. In addition, he publishes, in some cases for the first time, a series of recently discovered minor inscriptions--dedications and funerary monuments—dating to the imperial period, from the immediate area around Oinoanda, most of which came to light during the field work that the commentary on the treaty demanded.

The book ends with a summary of the conclusions (pp.167-170). A Turkish translation of the inscription and summary of the book is followed by the relevant bibliography and a series of useful indices (of sources, of Greek vocabulary, of other ancient vocabulary, and of names and subjects); the 50 plates, which include excellent photographs of the inscription and the local landscape as well as maps illustrating the topographical arguments in the text round off this very professional piece of work.

With this excellent study Rousset has provided researchers into this fascinating corner of the ancient world with an excellent tool for further research. He has made a major contribution to the political and administrative history of south-west Asia Minor in the critical phase of the gradual development of Roman rule in the area from the second century B.C. onwards. Rousset’s discussion of the new text and related documents is a fundamental and convincing study of complex chronological and geographical questions, taking into account—as far as I see--everything of relevance that has been written on these questions. It will inevitably provide the starting point for any future work on the development of this part of the Lykian League. Maybe we have waited long for this book, but it was certainly well worth it.

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