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An Archaic Inscription from Samothrace

Author(s): Nora Dimitrova and Kevin Clinton


Source: Hesperia, Vol. 72, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 2003), pp. 235-239
Published by: American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3182050
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HESPERIA 72 (2003) AN ARCHAIC
Pages 235-239
I N S C R I PT I O N F RO M
SAMOTH RACE

AB STRACT

The presentpaperintroducesthe earliest-knowndocumentary inscription


fromSamothrace,tentativelydatedto the late 6th centuryB.C. The docu-
mentcontainsa namein theIonicdialect,whichservesasanadditionalargu-
mentthatthe Greekinhabitantsof the islandcamefromSamos.

In the courseof ourworkon inscriptionsin theArchaeological


Museum
of Samothrace,we noticeda smallfragment of anArchaicinscription
that
hadbeenstoredin an apothekesinceat least1978 (Fig.1).1It was not
foundin theAmericanexcavations (andhencehasno inventory number)
butwasprobably broughtto themuseumasa strayfindandplacedin the
storeroom.Thoughverysmall,it is the earliestGreekdocumentary in-
scriptionthathasturnedup on the island,andthereforepotentiallyof
greatimportance forourknowledge of theearlyGreekcolonists.

THE INSCRIPTION

Thin slabof grayish(probably


Thasian)marble,brokenon all sidesbut
the smoothbackandpartof the smoothbottom.Recordedin 1978in
ShelfCatalogue,"
"Apotheke p.22,locationD3,as"small
fragmentofGr[ee]k
inscript[ion]."
No inventory
number.
1.We aregratefulto J. R. McCre-
die,directorof the excavations
in
Samothrace conductedby the Insti- H. 0.067,W. 0.11,Th. 0.029,L.H.0.012-0.016m
tuteof FineArts,NewYorkUniver-
sity,forpermissionto publishthis ca.525-500?
fragment. We wouldalsoliketo thank
A. W. JohnstonandA. J. Grahamfor
1 [- - - - - - -] xal lvO[-- - - - -]
theirhelpfuldiscussionof the manu-
script,andthe editorandanonymous [ ]-
reviewersof Hesperiaforuseful 2 [ ] OvatCuL ]
comments. vacat
> + ^ o ¢ + w; 3 Figure 1. Inscribed Archaic fragment

236 NORA DIMITROVA AND KEVIN CLINTON

=X j _ t SomSamothrace. PhotoK.Clinton,
draw1ng
N. Dimitrova

EPIGRAPHICAL COMMENTARY

At thebeginningof eachlinethereis a singlemidlinedot,apparently an


interpunct. Betweenthelinestherightpartof a horizontal strokecanbe
seen;it maywellbe aparagraphos.
Linel:Therightstrokeofthealphadescends slightlybelow thecross-
stroke,andascendsto meettheleftstrokeata pointthatis notpreserved
butprobably liesatthesamelevelorslightlyabovethe(missing) topofthe
verticalof kappa.Thecross-stroke of thealphameetstheleftstrokeatthe
bottomof theline.
The deltais unambiguous.
The dottedomicronrepresents thelowerpartof a circle.
Line2: The shapeof the thirdletteris extraordinary: a left vertical
strokedescending onlyasfarasthemidlinehorizontal stroke,thena right
strokedescending onlyfromthemidlinehorizontal tojustbelowthebase
of theline.Faintvertical linescanperhaps bediscerned in thephotograph
(Fig.1) belowthe left andabovethe rightvertical; theycannotbe con-
firmedon the stone,however, andtherefore do not seemto be original
guidelines.Thereareseveralmarksonthestonethatdonotbelongto the
letter,includinga shorthorizontal markjustto therightof thetopof the
leftverticalanda shallowhorizontal markto the rightof thebottomof
therightvertical.It is certainthatthecutterdidnotcuta traditional eta.If
thecutterhadwishedto cuta traditional eta,it wouldhavebeennatural to
cuteachverticalstrokefromthe topto thebottom(orviceversa)of the
line,butthecutterstopped(orstarted)in themiddlein eachcaseanddid
notfollowthrough.
AN ARCHAIC INSCRIPTION FROM SAMOTHRACE 237

COMMENTARY

ThisGreekdocument2 is perhaps document


a financial orarecordof some
sort,sincethe markbetweenthe linesis probably a paragraphos.3With
andso fewearlyinscriptions
so littlepreserved in Samothrace,it is diffi-
cultto datethefragment, butthelettershapesseemto be consistent with
shapesfoundelsewhere in thelastquarterof the6thcentury.4It therefore
represents ourearliest
documentary inscription Theunique
in Samothrace.s
letterformin line 2 mustbe interpreted as an eta,6giventhe factthat
thewordin line2 canhardlybe anythingbuta formof thepropername
'Ovaog.

The etais of criticalimportance.It informsus thatthedialectof the


document is mostprobably Ionic:theAeolicformwouldhavebeen'Ova-
OLR0G.7 The sigmais in factanIonictype.8

The identityof the Greekswho colonizedSamothrace hasbeena


matterof controversy sinceantiquity.CarlFredrich, writingin 1909,con-
cludedthatthematterwasuncertain butfoundthetestimonia in favorof
the Samianscompelling.9 Otto Rubensohn andothers,however, didnot
findthemcompelling.l°
A newelemententeredthe discussion onJune20, 1953,whenKarl
Lehmann, thendirectorof theAmericanexcavations at Samothrace,dis-
covered,in thevicinityof the GenoeseTowers,a fragmentof a 4th-cen-
turydecreecontaining twoAeolisms(woktog Tac, andsovEso).l1Fraser,
observing thatthedecreemusthavebeenproduced byanAeoliccity,con-
cludedthattherewasa predominating Aeolicstrainin the population,

2. Althoughnon-Greektextshave easternIoniclettering."
Fora fulldis- apparently is not drawnin one case
beenfoundin Samothrace (most cussionof its dateandSamothracian (in (patv),whilein two casesthe eta
notablySamothrace 2.1, no.64), it is provenance, see Graham2002.Unfor- as aspirateis correctly formed.
unlikelythatthe presentdocumentis likethe presentdocument,it
tunately, 7. Proto-Greek longalphain a con-
non-Greek,sinceallof the preserved wasnot foundin an archaeological textsuchas thisbecomesetaonlyin
lettersmakesenseas Greekwordsor context,andwe thereforelackdecisive Attic-Ionic(writtenas epsilonin the
partsthereof,whilenothingin the non- proofthatit waslocatedon Samothrace Atticalphabet).
Greekdocumentscanbe clearly It is theoreticallypossiblethata
. . .

ln antlqulty.
recognizedas Greek. Cf. Lehmann-Hartleben 1943, foreignerof Ionicoriginwaslistedin
3. Cf.,e.g.,theparagraphoiin IGI3 pp. 130-134,witha goodphotograph anAeolicdocument. The dialectal
386-387,389,430. Paragraphoi are of the relief,pl.IX;he interprets the featuresof namesareusuallyretained
qulterareln decrees. reliefas anunderworld scene.The in documentswrittenin a different
. . .

4. See,e.g.,Jeffery1990,p. 307, centralpartof the sigmain the relief dialect;cf.,e.g.,forIonicnamesin


no.63 (Thasos,IGMI.8 356),pl. 58. If is not dissimilar to the sigmain the Aeolicinscriptions, IGMI.2 15, 18.
the marbleis indeedThasian,it contra- presentfragment,butits upperstrokeis IdentifyingOnesimosin the present
dictsC. Fredrich's hypothesis,adIG moreopenandits upperandlower documentas a foreigner, however,is
XII.8 151,thatThasianmarblewasnot strokesaremoreangularly joinedto the onlya remotepossibility, sincethe
usedin Samothracian documents contiguousstrokesthanin the present naturalassumption is thatthewhole
beforethe 3rdcenturyB.C. fragment. The relief'salphashavea documentis Ionic.
5. Butnot the earliestinscription, curvingrightstroke,andthe left and 8. Cf.sigma3, IonicDodekapolis,
the honorof whichbelongs,apparently, rightstrokesdescendbelowthe middle inJeffery1990,p. 325.
to the inscribednamesof Agamemnon, stroke. 9. IG£I.8, p. 37.
Talthybius, andEpeiuson anArchaic 6. A. W.Johnstoncallsouratten- 10. Rubensohn1892,pp.212-214.
reliefnowin the Louvre,IGXII.8226, tionto the unusualetain a graffitoon Forreferences see
to earlierdiscussions,
datedby historiansof sculpture to the undersideof a lekanefoundin the Fredrich, IGXII.8,andRubensohn
ca.550 B.C. Jeffery(1990,p. 299) calls Agora:AgoraXX1, p. 13, C 18,pl. 5. 1892.
thatinscription "afineexampleof Therethe secondverticalof the eta 11. Samothrace 2.1, no. 1.
238 NORA DIMITROVA AND KEVIN CLINTON

whileacknowledging alsoanIonicelement.l2 Similarly,Lehmann, noting


thatthe GreekdialectwasAeolic,considered thisanindicationthatthe
Greeksettlerscamefrom"northwestern AnatoliaorLesbos,regionsclosely
relatedto Samothrace bylegendandarchaeological evidencealike.''l3
JohnGraham, in a recentarticlein thisjournal,pointedoutthefra-
gilityof Fraser's argument thatthe decreewasissuedby Samothrace.l4
Althoughthedecreementionsinlines2-3 TaswoktosTasLal[,uoOpaLxxv
(asrestored by Fraser), andalthoughthereis no Aeoliccitywhosename
beginsin Sa- (asFraserpointedout),we neednot concludewithFraser
thatthisis a reference to theissuingcity;thereis noreasonwhythecityof
Samothrace couldnotbe namedin a decreeof anothercity.l5 Thus,there
is noobstacleto theassumption thatthisdecreebelongsto thecategory of
decreespassedbya cityin honorof anothercityorin honorof oneormore
of anothercity'scitizens,in gratitude forsomebenefaction, anda copyof
it sentto the cityso honored.(Thepresentfragment, as notedabove,is
perhaps partof a financialdocumentorrecord,i.e.,notthe sortof docu-
mentthata foreigncitywouldsendto Samothrace.)
Grahamconvincingly demonstrated, aftera full discussionof the
modernarchaeological evidenceandtheancientevidenceon theoriginof
theGreeksettlerson Samothrace, thattheconsensus of theancientliter-
arysourcesin favorof Samosis"notcontradicted byanygoodevidenceor
arguments, andweshouldtherefore acceptthattheGreekcolonistsof Sa-
mothrace camefromSamos.''l6 Especially important testimoniathatthe
originalsettlerswereSamiancanbe foundin Antiphon,Or.15 (FGrHist
548 F5a),"OntheTributeof the Samothracians'';l7 Heracleides'epitome
oftheAristotelianpoliteia ofthe Samothracians (FGrHist548F5b);l8and
Pseudo-Scymnus, Periegesis679-680,690-695.19 In addition,Herodotus
(8.90.1-3)reports thata Samothracian shipwasincluded amongtheIonian
shipsfightingon thesideof thePersians.
Althoughwe cannotbe completely certainthatthe inscription pre-
sentedhereis Samothracian, sinceit wasnotfoundin anexcavated con-
text,20
a Samothracian provenance canbepresumed in theabsenceof evi-
denceto thecontrary; theinscription cannot,forexample, havecomefrom
Thasos.2l If it is indeedfromSamothrace, it providesfurtherevidencethat
the Samothracian dialectwasIonic,andthatthe Greeksof Samothrace
camefromSamos.

12. Samothrace 2.1, p. 3. Ionicele- or"Thracian Samos"(II. 24.78,753; builtinto a Byzantinestructurein


ment:Samothrace 2.1, no.5, line8, the 13.12-13),apparently wasnotgivento Samothrace. The oppositeflowseems
monthMaimakterion. the islandbythe Samians. alsoto haveoccurred: forreliefs
13. Lehmann1998,p. 19. 17. Samothrace 1, no.40. apparently fromSamothrace nowin
14. Graham2002.We aredeeply 18. Samothrace1, no.41. Thasos(published in EtThasXV,
gratefillto ProfessorGrahamfor 19. Samothrace 1, no.58. pp.87-89, nos.18-22),seeMantis
allowingus to readthe manuscript of 20. Professor McCrediehaspointed 1998.
his articlein advanceof publication. out at leastone importantobject 21. Omicronin Thasianinscriptions
15.Thiswasalreadypointedoutby foundon Samothrace thatcamefrom downto approximately the lastquarter
Bernard1964,esp.p. 92, n. 1. Thasos,namelya largemarbleovolo of the 5th centurystandsforthelong
16. Graham2002,p. 239.The name fromanArchaicbuilding.At leasttwo vowel(omega).
"Samothrace," or in Homer"Samos" inscriptions fromthe mainlandwere
AN ARCHAIC INSCRIPTION FROM SAMOTHRACE 239

REFERENCES
AgoraXXI = M. Lang, Grafjriti and Mantis,A. 1998."TaavayAu(pa
Dipinti (AgoraXX;1),Princeton parvuaxa TouI£pournsSaCuo-
1976. 0paxNs," in RegionalSchoolsof
Bernard,P. 1964. "Ceramiquesde la HellenisticSculpture:
Proceedingsof
premieremoitie du VIIe siecle a Held at
an InternationalConference
Thasos,"BCH 88, pp. 77-146. theAmericanSchoolof Classical
EtThasXV = B. Holtzmann, Corpus StudiesatAthens,March15-17,
desreliefs1 (EtudesthasiennesXV), 1996, O. PalagiaandW. Coulson,
Athens 1994. eds.,Oxford,pp.209-225.
Graham,A. J.2002. "The Coloniza- Rubensohn,O. 1892.Die Mysterien-
tion of Samothrace,"Hesperia71, heiligtumerin Eleusisund Samo-
pp.231-260. thrake,Berlin.
Jeffery,L. H. 1990. TheLocalScripts ExcavationsConducted
Samothrace: by
ofArchaicGreece,rev.ed., with theInstituteof Fine Arts ofNew York
A. W. Johnston, Oxford. University
Lehmann, K. 1998. Samothrace:A Guide 1 = N. Lewis,TheAncientLiterary
to theExcavationsandMuseum,6th Sources(Samothrace 1), NewYork
ed., rev.J. R. McCredie, Salonica. 1958.
Lehmann-Hartleben,K. 1943."Cyria- 2.1 = P.M. Fraser,TheInscriptions
cus of Ancona, Aristotle, and on Stone(Samothrace2.1),London
Teiresiasin Samothrace,"Hesperia 1960.
12, pp. 115-134.

Nora Dimitrowa
CORNELLUNIVERSITY
I20 GOLDWINSMITHHALL
DEPARTMENT OF CLASSICS
ITHACA,NEWYORKI4853
nmd5@co rnell . edu

KezvinClinton
CORNELLUNIVERSITY
I20 GOLDWINSMITHHALL
DEPARTMENT OF CLASSICS
ITHACA,NEWYORKI4853
kmc1@cornell . edu