Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2012.06.28 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.06.28

Christian Wallner, Die Inschriften des Museums in Yozgat. Tyche. Sonderband, 6.   Wien:  Verlag Holzhausen, 2011.  Pp. 141.  ISBN 9783854931812.  €50.00 (pb).  

Reviewed by Michael Metcalfe, Catania (

This book forms a welcome addition to a number of recent publications of Greek and Latin inscriptions in the museums of eastern-central Turkey, an area that covers parts of ancient Pontus, Cappadocia and Galatia.1 Of the 61 inscriptions published here (59 Greek and 2 Latin, both of which are milestones), 49 are edited for the first time. The stones were last checked in the summer of 2009, and one can only hope that inscriptions subsequently added to the collection of Yozgat Museum will be studied and published on a regular basis. This repertorium will serve as an exemplary model for such work and, indeed, all future publications of the epigraphic collections of the smaller museums of Anatolia.

Wallner began his work in Yozgat museum as part of his preparation of the corpus of inscriptions from ancient Tavium for the Tavium International Research Project (directed by Karl Strobel), which will hopefully be published in the not-too-distant future as a fascicule in the Tituli Asiae Minoris series. Unfortunately, as is common in many museum collections, the original find spot of many of the inscriptions cannot be determined with any degree of certainty, and thus only about a third of this collection can certainly be attributed to the territory of Tavium. The reasons for this are varied, with the worst culprits being the gradual disappearance of painted inventory numbers from the stones, and the difficulty of matching terse or lacunose inventory records to actual stones.

As Wallner notes (p13), one of the only facts that can be stated with certainty is that all of the inscriptions derive from the territory of the modern province of Yozgat. Those that do not relate to Tavium therefore mostly originate in the broad border area between eastern Galatia and northern Cappadocia, save for two inscriptions that were found in Çekerek, just inside the borders of ancient Pontos. The vast majority are funerary inscriptions, the exceptions being two milestones and an acclamation, and perhaps four of the fragmentary inscriptions that, though probably funerary in nature, are so badly preserved (or deprived of context) that their original function is unclear (nos VI.8-11).

The form of the funerary stones when preserved in full is remarkably homogenous in terms of their shape, mouldings and relief decoration in each of the two main periods into which this collection is divided (Roman Imperial and Early Byzantine). Although this does make it difficult to assign them to an original location on stylistic grounds, it also neatly demonstrates that the border between the two provinces was merely an administrative one, and that life (and death) on both sides of it followed a near identical pattern.

The inscriptions are prefaced by seven short sections describing the Museum and the collection, the rationale behind the division of the inscriptions into the categories used here, a description of previous epigraphic work on the inscriptions in the collection, and some brief remarks concerning the editing process.

The inscriptions are divided into six categories:

I Roman Imperial period funerary inscriptions (22 inscriptions, 17 of which were previously unpublished)
II Early Byzantine period (5th-7th century) funerary inscriptions (18 inscriptions, 14 of which were previously unpublished)
III Christian (ie Byzantine) funerary inscriptions (6 inscriptions, all previously unpublished)
IV Milestones (2 inscriptions)
V Varia (2 inscriptions, 1 of which was previously unpublished)
VI Fragments (11 inscriptions, all previously unpublished)

These categories are partly based on the grouping of the stones in the museum, and Wallner himself is aware that the division of the funerary inscriptions into categories based on their date is a somewhat arbitrary exercise, with stones being assigned to category III only because there is no clear criterion for inclusion in category II although some of these may very well date to the 5th-7th centuries AD. The only assignments that can clearly be challenged are the fragmentary inscriptions VI.7 and VI.8, the former consisting of six extant lines (five of which are complete, four of which are comprehensible) and the latter being a completely preserved single word that was clearly the sum total of the original inscription. Neither should be classed as fragmentary.

The individual inscriptions are all treated in considerable and exacting detail. Their present location, accession date, inventory number and place of origin are all given (where known), together with the date on which they were studied. An extremely detailed description of the stone is then given, followed by measurements and a description of the letter forms. A date is assigned, and a text given, followed by an apparatus criticus, a translation and an exhaustive commentary that, as is to be expected given the nature of this collection, focuses on onomastic and orthographic matters. Particular praise must be given to the excellent quality of the photographs, with at least one (and often more) being provided for each inscription, and placed as closely as possible to the established text, thus allowing Wallner’s transcription to be checked quickly and easily.

Several advances have been made in the reading of the previously published inscriptions, and on two occasions (II.2 and II.3) Wallner has been able to establish a text that is much superior to the editio princeps (although, to be fair to the original editor, as Wallner is, both had been studied before they were transferred to the museum, while they were still in use as building material in awkward locations that did not allow a proper reading to be made).

There are a number of interesting inscriptions in this collection, but the two that will perhaps provoke the widest interest are I.20, in which the deceased curses anyone who desecrates the grave of himself and his family to suffer from elephantiasis, and V.1, an intriguing funerary relief depicting a scene from the life of Moses, complete with explicatory labelling (although previously published, Wallner has read an extra line and provided copious commentary and detailed photographs).

The volume concludes with a bibliography, concordances and indices. Given the close attention that Wallner has paid to orthographic issues throughout the book, it is a great shame that there is no index devoted to this subject, but the ones that are provided add great value to an exemplary publication.


1.  ] See e.g. D.H.French, “Inscriptions from Cappadocia I. The Museums of Kırşehir and Niğde” Epigraphica Anatolica 28 (1997) 115-124; M.Arslan, “New Inscriptions from Sivas Museum I” Gephyra 2 (2005) 173- 174; B.Takmer, M.Arslan, N.Tüner Önen, “New Inscriptions from the Kayseri Museum I” Gephyra 3 (2006) 169- 181; N.Tüner Önen, M.Arslan, B.Takmer, “New Inscriptions from the Tokat Muesum I” Gephyra 3 (2006) 183- 191; D.H.French, “Inscriptions from Cappadocia II. Museums of Yozgat, Kırşehir, Hacıbektaş, Nevşehir, Ürgüp, Aksaray, Konya Ereğlisi, Kayseri, Sivas” Epigraphica Anatolica 40 (2007) 67-108.

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