After writing my previous post on Pergamon (Pergamum), I’ve been thinking that I should make comments regarding online resources for epigraphy and inscriptions (especially from Asia Minor) an ongoing segment of this blog. Although the likes of G.H.R. Horsley’s New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity have thankfully increased the interest in, and use of, inscriptional evidence by scholars of the New Testament and early Christianity, more of this needs to be done. And I believe some scholars of Christian origins remain somewhat hestitant (or even intimidated) by the whole sub-specialty of epigraphy when they don’t need to be.I hope my ongoing comments on epigraphy will help both other scholars (of early Christianity and Judaism) and the interested Joe and Jane to make better sense of inscriptions and the resources (especially online) to study them. Inscriptions provide important glimpses, albeit momentary glimpses, into social and religious realities of life for those living in the world of early Christians and Jews. Inscriptions and the monuments on which they were inscribed often provide an alternative picture of life in the ancient world to that offered by literary evidence produced by the elites.
The supplement to Pergamon inscriptions which I commented on in the previous post required that you know Greek to use it, but there is another resource that will appeal to a broader audience. Some of you may be familiar with the important “God-fearers” inscription (now often dated to the fourth or fifth century) which was discovered at Aphrodisias and revolutionized study of gentiles who were attracted to Judaism in antiquity. But there are many other interesting and important inscriptions which have been discovered in this same city in Asia Minor (Turkey).
The website of the “Inscriptions of Aphrodisias Project” is very promising in providing excellent resources for studying inscriptions. At present, it provides free access to the second (2004) edition of Charlotte Roueché’s Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity: The Late Roman and Byzantine Inscriptions, which includes 250 Greek inscriptions with English translations and extensive commentary. There are plans to continue electronically publishing new finds from Aphrodisias as well. The extensive bibliography section includes links to online articles, including the recent (free access) article by Angelos Chaniotis, “New inscriptions from Aphrodisias (1995-2001),” American Journal of Archaeology 108 (2004), 377-416 (with English translations of the new finds). Also quite interesting are the photographs of notebooks (with documented Greek inscriptions) by early explorers of Aphrodisias, including the notebook of John Gandy Deering (written c. 1811-1813).
If you would like to do a quick photographic tour of the museum at Aphrodisias, including some of its monuments with inscriptions, go to my website here and click on the picture of Apollo at the top-right.
Update: Juan Garcés who is at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College, London, makes several further comments about this entry (see comments), including the fact that the plan is ultimately to have all of the inscriptions from Aphrodisias online. I just realized that this is the same person who reviewed my book for BMCR (he was very generous).
(My apologies for mispelling Angelos Chaniotis’ name, which is now corrected).