The Absolute Beginners' Guide to Greek and Roman Epigraphy

Onno van Nijf


Introduction to Greek and Roman Epigraphy: An absolute Beginners’ Guide

Onno van Nijf

NB this is essentially the texts of a document that I compiled about 10 years ago. It is, therefore a bit dated. But I note that the webversion is still used. Together with my other documents Electronic Epigraphy and the Groningen Survey of Epigraphic Publications this will cover many of your needs.

The SAXA LOQUUNTUR site is designed to integrate and ultimately supplant these documents.

Where to start?

The prospect of finding information about a specific epigraphical topic may be daunting at first, but there are many handbooks and introductions to help you on your way.

Bibliographical guides

F. Bérard et al. Guide de l'épigraphiste, Paris, 2000 (3)
(earlier editions still useful: as I did not have access to the third edition when I compiled this list, the references are to the second edition) Extremely useful! and absolutely the first place to go to. The guide has an index of modern authors; a geographical index, and an 'analytical' index.

A good on-line bibliography on epigraphy can be found on the web pages of Bibliotheca Classica Selecta, at the University of Louvain (in French)

Handbooks and general introductions to epigraphy:


F. Millar, 'Epigraphy', in: M. Crawford (ed.) Sources for ancient history. Cambridge 1983 etc. pbk. (Cambridge University Press). A brief introduction to the use of epigraphical sources for ancient history. Focuses on political history, and the history of events. Millar discusses some texts

L. Robert,'Epigraphie' in: L'histoire et ses méthodes (Encyclopédie de la Pléiade) Paris, 1961. Now in L. Robert Opera Minora Selecta V, p 65-109. Brief introduction emphasising the importance of seeing inscriptions 'en série' and the (potential) contribution of epigraphy to all aspects of study of the ancient world (" Il n'y a pas d'inscriptions banales, il y a seulement une manière banale de les étudier").

Greek epigraphy:

B.F. Cook, Greek Inscriptions. London, 1987. Concise and well illustrated introduction. Discusses some interesting inscriptions. With limited bibliography.

L.H. Jeffery, The local scripts of archaic Greece. Oxford, 1990 (revised edition). Invaluable corpus of early Greek inscriptions, with illustrations and comments.

A.G. Woodhead, A study of Greek inscriptions. Cambridge, 1981 (2). Athenocentric but alway useful for technical matters. See ch. VIII for inscriptions and art; ch. IX for a survey of epigraphic publications.

M. Guarducci, Epigraphia Greca (4 volumes) Rome, 1967-1978. Large and complete handbook in Italian.

M. Guarducci, L'epigrafia greca dalle origini al tardo impero. Rome, 1987. One- volume survey, well illustrated, from the beginning of the Greek alphabet to the late empire. Discussion of various texts. Useful especially for bibliography, contains indices, including index of Greek words.

Roman epigraphy:

L. Keppie Understanding Roman inscriptions. London 1991 pbk. (Batsford) With chapters on the contribution of epigraphy to social and economic history. Highly readable.

Gordon, Illustrated introduction to Latin epigraphy, Berkeley etc. 1983. Useful general introduction, with bibliography (by topic), survey of CIL volumes, practical lists of Latin abbreviations, Roman emperors etc. The main body of the book is dedicated to discussions of individual inscriptions, with extensive comments, translations etc. There is an index of texts discussed , there are photos of all texts at the back. This book is useful for appreciating the importance of the physical appearances and the archaeological context of inscriptions.

E. Meyer, Einführung in die lateinische Epigraphik, Darmstadt (1973), Rather austere discussion of various types of inscription, but good on bibliography. (In German)

Calabi Limentani, Epigrafia Latina. Milan, 1968. (see esp: Appendice Bibliografica, now of course a little out of date).


Travellers' accounts

From the Middle Ages onwards Greek and Latin inscriptions have been published in the accounts of travellers, who were often interested not only in inscriptions and other antiquities, but also in geography and local customs. Not many travellers were experts in epigraphy, and the quality of their drawings or transcriptions of inscriptions can vary greatly. However, in many cases they are the only source for particular texts, and we can not ignore them. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries 'professional epigraphists' made epigraphical expeditions that produced publications of higher standard. See for example the three accounts by J. Keil and A. von Premerstein of their travels in Lydia ('Berichte über eine Reise ...Published in Vienna between 1908 and 1914) or the ten volumes of Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua (= MAMA * see below) Published in Manchester and London between 1928 and 1990. These accounts are perhaps not a place to start studying epigraphy, but they often make for fascinating reading.

Museum collections

Many museums and private collections have inscriptions in their collections of antiquities. In some cases the museum has published a comprehensive catalogue, which can give unexpected insights into the ways in which the collections were formed and hang together. An example:

Ancient Greek Inscriptions in the British Museum, Oxford 1874-1916 (=.GIBM:)

For other museums see: Guide de l'épigraphiste,p. 128-130.

Excavation reports

Many inscriptions are now found in the context of archaeological excavations. They are often published with the other material of the site, unfortunately not always by editors au fait with epigraphic lore. It is worth having a look at the archaeological volumes as well, as they can give you a good impression of the inscriptions as archaeological artefacts (their physical shape, their function as a part of a monument, their location in towns). These aspects are easily forgotten when you read the edited versions, but they are important for the full understanding of what the texts say, e.g. for the light they throw on urban life or on functions of monumental writing in its original context. In ideal cases the publication of the inscriptions of an excavation is carried out by epigraphist with a good understanding of the archaeology of the site. Good examples are the publication of the inscriptions that were found on the Athenian Agora in separate volumes of the series The Athenian Agora , Princeton 1953-to date, as well as the publications of the inscriptions from Aphrodisias by J.M. Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome and C. Roueché Aphrodisias in Late antiquity and Partisans and Performers.


Many inscriptions are now being published individually, or in small groups, in periodicals, sometimes in the standard classical journals (JHS, JRS, BCH for instance), sometimes in periodicals that specialise in epigraphy.

EA: Epigraphica Anatolica Mainly (but not exclusively) in German. Articles on the epigraphy of Asia Minor.

ZPE: =Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. Mainly (but not exclusively) in German. Wide range of articles on all aspects of epigraphy and papyrology. There are index volumes, or you can access a cumulative index on their website:

Tyche: Published in Austria, not dissimilar to ZPE, but contains also book reviews.

Kadmos: (esp. for Mycenaean and early Greek texts)

Epigraphica: Emphasis on Latin inscriptions, but also articles of wider relevance. They have opened a website with a index of each volume. You can also search for for geographical names. (In Italian).

Horos: (in Greek)

Collections and thematic corpora

Fortunately many published inscriptions have found their way to larger collections, edited by specialists who have often made considerable improvements in the texts.

Thematic collections:

Thematic collections have appeared on a wide variety of subjects, among which metrical inscriptions, funerary inscriptions, inscriptions referring to the reigns of particular emperors, the correspondence of Hellenistic kings and so on. Two examples in the field of Roman law:

FIRA: = S. Riccobono and V. Arangio Ruiz (eds). Fontes iuris romani anteiustiniani), (now seriously out of date)

M.H. Crawford (et al.)Roman statutes. London, 1996.

It is always worth finding out whether someone has produced a collection on the topic that you are interested in. A reasonably up-to-date survey of topics and specialist collections can be found in the Guide de l'Epigraphiste pp. 130-152. Although these collections can be very useful from the point of view of the historian or archaeologist interested in a particular topic, they have the drawback that they do not allow for a systematic collection of all relevant inscriptions published, as large numbers of inscriptions cannot be fitted with ease into a specific category. Another drawback is that this type of collection tends to isolate individual inscriptions from other texts from the same site, making it difficult to appreciate how typical or a-typical a text is.

Greek and Latin corpora:

For these reasons the most important collections of inscriptions tend to be organised along geographical lines. From the nineteenth century inscriptions have been collected in large multi-volume corpora, such as Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum and Inscriptiones Graecae.  The comments tend to be very brief, and limited to textual problems, and are usually in Latin.

NB: The scale of the work in compiling these corpora is immense, and it is hardly surprising that work on them still continues. You will need to consult other publications as well. See below for some useful hints and titles you might want to use.

Greek World

CIG: =Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum. Berlin, 1825-1877. (4 volumes). The first attempt at a comprehensive publication of all Greek inscriptions from all over the Greek world. The only corpus for the entire Greek-speaking world, but now, of course, both very incomplete and presenting editions of the texts which may be badly wrong. Always look elsewhere for newer editions of the texts. The individual volumes contain indices (i.a. magistracies, and public offices, games and festivals, res sacrae, and important Greek words).CIG has been partially superseded by the publication of a new corpus:

IG: =Inscriptiones Graecae. Although based in Berlin it is a huge international, but still incomplete, project. The texts are arranged geographically. The inscriptions for each site are usually listed under categories: standard headings are: decreta, catalogi, tituli honorarii, tituli sepulcrales, varia. A summary of volumes can be found in Woodhead (1981), and in the Guide de l'Epigraphiste. . The slow pace of publication, as well as in, some cases, national pride has meant that certain projected volumes have never been completed, and you will have to consult 'stand alone' corpora, often published by the excavators of particular sites. There is a website which has a brief history of the project, as well as a survey of the volumes that were published and those that are still in progress. At

Volumes of IG:

IG I-III: Athens and Attica. Important additions:

oInscriptiones Atticae. Supplementum Inscriptionum Atticarum. A.N. Oikonomides (ed.) Chicago, 1976 --

oATL: B.D. Meritt et al: The Athenian Tribute Lists, Cambridge, Mass./ Princeton, 1939-1953.

oAgora inscriptions can be found in: Hesperia and in various volumes of Excavations of the Athenian Agora

Note that there are various editions of the inscriptions from Attica. The Athenian inscriptions before 403 BC are now found in IG I3 edited by D. Lewis (three fascicles). For the later inscriptions one should use the so-called Editio Minor ( IG II2 or II/III2).

IG IV-VI Peloponnese. Important additions:

oCorinth VIII of Corinth, Results of Excavations VIII. American School of Classical Studies at Athens. NB volume VIII is in three parts of variable quality.

oIOlympia: W. Dittenberger and K. Purgold, Die Inschriften von Olympia.

IG VII-IX Central Greece

oEB: P. Roesch, Etudes Béotiennes. Paris, 1982. (With extensive comments on religion and society!)

oFD III: Fouilles de Delphes. III. Epigraphie. Paris, 1929. (several parts) replaces Vol. VIII
The first volumes of a real 'Corpus' of the inscriptions, also published by the French excavators, have now been published.
An up to date computer concordance for the Delphi inscriptions can be found at:

IG X: Northern Greece and beyond

oIG X.2 for Thessalonica has been published, the rest is still scattered over a wide number of publications, cf. Guide de l'Epigraphiste pp. 40-44 for northern Greece, Scythia, and beyond.

oIGBulg: G. Mihailov, Inscriptiones Graecae in Bulgariae repertae (5 volumes, NB that there is a second edition of volume 1: IGBulg I(2))

oSeveral volumes of a Romanian corpus (of Greek and Latin inscriptions) have been published: D.M. Pippidi and I.I. Russu, Inscriptiones Daciae et Scythiae Minoris antiquae. Bucuresti, 1975 –

oA corpus of Albania is now appearing under the supervision of P. Cabanes: Corpus d'inscriptions d'Illyrie méridionale et d'Épire. (two volumes have appeared covering Epidamnos/Dyrrhachion/ and Apollonia.

IG XI-XIII The Greek Islands

oIDélos: Inscriptions de Délos. Paris, 1926-1972, the corpus of the Delian inscriptions published by the French School which replaces the projected IG XI

oDelos is covered in: F. Dürrbach, Choix d'inscriptions de Délos, 1 Textes historiques. Paris, 1921-1923. (Texts, translations and commentary) and in a new corpus.

oICreta: M. Guarducci, Inscriptiones Creticae. Rome, 1935-1950, 4 vols. replaces the projected IG XIII

IG XIV Italy and Rome

oIGUR: L. Moretti, Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae. Rome, 1968-1979.

oE. Miranda, Iscrizioni greche d'Italia, Naples I (1990), II (1995)

IG XV Cyprus

oMany Cypriot inscriptions have been published by T.B. Mitford (see Guide de l'Epigraphiste p. 50-51 for bibliography).

The Greek world of Asia and Africa

The situation for the Greek world outside Greece is (even) more complex. They were not intended to be part of the IG corpus, various regional corpora are under way. The (planned) corpora for these areas are very incomplete, it is essential to consult: IGR, OGIS, SIG. (see below).


IGLS: =Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie. Paris, 1929-- is still in progress. (A survey in:Guide de l'Epigraphiste pp.66-71).


The Egyptian material is not covered completely. A. and E. Bernand are in the process of publishing much of it in a multivolume 'corpus' (Survey: in Guide de l'Epigraphiste 71-73)


There is no complete corpus, but important recent collections of texts may be found in

SEG IX: =Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (see below), and in the periodical

ASAA 39-40 (1961-1962).

New texts are frequently published in Quaderni di Archeologia della Libia and in Libya Antiqua .

Asia Minor

There is not one overarching corpus for Asia Minor. Several projects, with different, though at times overlapping, geographical remits are under way. For several cities individual corpora were published as part of the excavation publications. A survey of the main publications on geographical basis can be found in the Guide de l'Epigraphiste pp. 51-66.

TAM: =Tituli Asiae Minoris. Vienna 1901- A real corpus, but only a few volumes have appeared. The Vienna Academy has published occasional supplements, other volumes of the corpus are under way.

IGSK/IK: =Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, Bonn 1972 --, a German series, which has now started to collect the inscriptions of the cities of Asia Minor. So far they have published about 40 volumes, and more are expected. Usually with good indices. It aims to be a 'repertorium' rather than a full corpus and the standard of publication varies very much from volume to volume.

MAMA: =Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiquae. Manchester, 1928-- ( vols. 1-8) London (vols 9&10). The results of a series of expeditions mainly by American and British, but also some Austrian scholars in the course of this century. Two volumes have appeared recently under the auspices of JRS; they complete the series. Again the standard varies from volume to volume.
See below in IT section for website with images of MAMA X and XI

RECAM =Regional Epigraphic Catalogues of Asia Minor. Published by the BritishI Institute at Ankara. So far only two volumes have appeared (Ankara and the Kibyratis), but other volumes are in preparation.

Some individual sites:


Sardis VII,1: W.H. Buckler and D.M. Robinson, Sardis, VII. Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Part I. Leiden 1932.


A&R J. Reynolds. Aphrodisias and Rome. London 1982.

ALA C. Roueché. Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity. London 1989.

P&P C. Roueché Performers and Partisans at Aphrodisias in the Roman and Late Roman Period. A Study based on Inscriptions from the Current Excavations at Aphrodisias in Caria. London 1993.

Other cities

La Carie II J. and L. Robert. La Carie, II. Le plateau de Tabai et ses environs. Paris 1954.

I.Didyma: A. Rehm. Didyma, II. Die Inschriften. Berlin 1958.

I.Magnesia O. Kern. Die Inschriften von Magnesia am Maeander. Berlin 1900.

Milet VI. 1, 2 P. Herrmann Inschrifetn von Milet vols 1 and 2. Berlin

I.Perg. 1-2 Altertümer von Pergamon, vol. 8,1-3. Berlin 1890-1969.

Sinuri L. Robert. Le sanctuaire de Sinuri près de Mylasa, I. Les inscriptions. Paris 1945.

Latin corpora:

CIL: From 1863 Latin inscriptions have been collected in the volumes of Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. (Many volumes appeared at end of 19th century). Each volume opens with a list of earlier antiquarians. There follows a list of falsae vel alienae. The reliable inscriptions are grouped under the town where they have come to light (not necessarily the place where they were originally set up). The index usually covers: names of individuals, emperors, consuls, honores (= public office), military matters, res sacra (including names of deities), matters relevant to the city of Rome, matters relevant to the provinces and to the municipia, collegia, occupations, epigrams and varia notabilia.
This is an ongoing project. The latest news can be found on the CIL website:
The arrangement is largely geographical:

CIL I: contains inscriptions of the period before 44 BC. Replaced first by

oILLRP:A. Degrassi, Inscriptiones Latinae Liberae rei publicae. Firenze, 1957-1963.with illustrations of the inscriptions in Imagines; and later by

oCIL I(2) .

CIL II: Hispania

CIL III: Latin inscriptions from Egypt and Asia, the Greek speaking provinces, and Illyricum, including, notably, Diocletian's Prices edict, the Res gestae of Augustus, and waxed tablets from Dacia. There are several supplements. (For a survey and for a useful note on the organisation of this volume see Guide de l'Epigraphiste p. 82)

CIL IV: graffiti of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae. Supplements contain waxed tablets, and wall and vase inscriptions.

CIl V: Gallia Cisalpina

CIL VI: Rome

oPars VII , in 7 fascicle is a computer generated index, of word in context.

See also below in IT section on EPIGRAPH, a CD-Rom version of CIL VI

CIL VII: Britannia

oRIB: R.G. Collingwood (et al.) The Roman inscriptions of Britain, Oxford, 1965-. An index was published separately. Volume II has been published in several fascicles. Volume 1 now needs revision Cf. G.C. Boon in Britannia 22 (1991), 317 f. and M. Fulford in Britannia 25 (1994), 315 f. For a website with the on-line texts, see below IT section.

CIL VIII: North Africa.

CIL IX: Calabria, Apulia, Samnium.

CIL X: Bruttium, Lucania, Campania (excluding Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae), Sicilia, Sardinia.

CIL XI: Aemilia, Etruria, Umbria.

CIL XII: Gallia Narbonensis.

CIL XIII: Tres Galliae, Germania.

CIL XIV: Latium Vetus

CIL XV: instrumentum domesticum from Rome. Now supplemented by a number of volumes published outside the framework of CIL: you might want to consult RIB II (see above), N. Jefremow . Die Amphorenstempel des hellenistischen Knidos. München 1995 (XX A5 32) or W.V Harris (ed.)The inscribed economy: production and distribution in the Roman empire in the light of instrumentum domesticum: the proceedings of a conference held at the American Academy in Rome on 10-11 January, 1992 . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 1993 (Journal of Roman Archaeology. Supplementary series; no. 6) (D 27 80)

CIL XVI: military diplomas

CIL XVII: Roman milestones (in progress)

It is not possible to mentionall the 'national' corpora, and smaller, more up-to-date collections etc, which do not (always) follow ancient provincial boundaries. Consult the Guide de l'Epigraphiste, chapter IV (74-127) for the region(s) in which you are interested.


InscrIt: Inscriptiones Italicae, Rome, 1931 --

Supplementa Italica, Nuova serie. Rome, 1981 --

Small collections:

There are also a number of smaller collections of inscriptions, which can give you a useful idea of the range of texts available. Among the important (smallish) collections, note especially:

Latin inscriptions

ILS: H. Dessau: Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae. Berlin 1892-1916. This is the standard selection of Latin inscriptions. The inscriptions are arranged in a thematic way, which can be useful if you want to form an idea of what is available. It offers very detailed indices, but you'll need to look for more recent material elsewhere. The texts are also available on the web see below IT section.

A concordance between CIL and ILS: E. de Ruggiero: 'Tavole di congualgio' as part of Dizionario Epigraphico. DE is an incomplete enterprise, which contains many useful, if sometimes outdated discussions of matters raised by inscriptions (in Italian).

Greek inscriptions:

SIG/Syll.: = W. Dittenberger, Sylloge inscriptionum graecarum. Leipzig, 1915-19243. A survey of the most important Greek inscriptions. Volumes 1 and 2 are arranged geographically, volume 3 thematically (res publicae; res sacrae; vita privata), volume 4 has the indices. Use the third edition; the earlier editions are also useful as many older books refer to the first or second edition.

OGIS: = W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci inscriptiones selectae. Leipzig, 1903-1905. Very useful survey of Greek inscriptions found outside Greece (Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt). There are two volumes: 1 Hellenistic, 2 Roman. Geographically arranged. General indices.

Concordance on OGIS and SIG: W. Gawantka: Aktualisierende Konkordanzen zu Dittenbergers OGIS and SIG(3). Hildesheim, New York, 1977. This is a very useful concordance, allowing you to find more recent editions of the inscriptions published in SIG or OGIS , but only up to 1977; For editions and studies after this date, the best place to look is SEG (see below).

IGR/ IGRRP: = R. Cagnat, Inscriptiones Graecae ad res Romanas pertinentes. Collection of Greek inscriptions dating from the Roman period. There are 3 volumes, arranged geographically, each with detailed indices : 1 Italy and west, 3 Eastern provinces, 4 Asia. Note that volume 2 never appeared. The editor did not always use the best editions of the texts, so one must use these texts with care.

Even smaller, but useful:

Tod 1 = M. Tod, A selection of Greek historical inscriptions to the end of the fifth century BC Oxford, 1946 (2).

Tod 2 = M. Tod, A selection of Greek historical inscriptions. Vol ii. from 403-to 328 BC. Oxford 1949.

Meiggs and Lewis =R. Meiggs and D. Lewis, A selection of Greek historical inscriptions to the end of the fifth century, Oxford, (replaces Tod vol. 1 only for Archaic and Classical periods) Often also abbreviated as GHI.


How do you find out where the inscriptions of individual sites were published? How do you find an inscription (or more inscriptions) on a specific topic? How do you find commentaries, information on or later editions of any inscriptions found? Are there translations? (Answer: Yes, but only for a tiny minority!) It is important to look also for up-to date discussion of inscriptions published long-ago, -new techniques, new factual information, new approaches to history have often revolutionised texts and our interpretation of them. SEG and AE (= AnnEpigr) are now providing useful guidance to this kind of thing. In addition various computer tools are being published that remove much of the donkey work.

Keeping up-to-date with Greek inscriptions:

SEG: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Leiden, 1923-1971 then Amsterdam, 1979- to date. This series attempts to provide the texts of all inscriptions published outside the corpora as they are published, with some short notes on them. The earlier volumes concentrate on specific areas and cover the harvest of several years. The later volumes (from 1979) aim to cover all the material published in one year (they are on average 3 years behind). The later volumes have a long section on varia which offers a good bibliographical survey of discussion on issues to which inscriptions contribute information, or which are raised by inscriptions; excellent indices, including a long subject index in English, and a concordance on earlier SEG voumes and major publications, as well as: personal names; Kings and Emperors; Geographical names; Religious terms; Military terms; important Greek words.
The earlier volumes have more limited indices. (Separate index volumes: for volumes 11-20 and for volumes 26-35.). The series is likely to appear in computerised form in the near future. For more information:, see their website:

BE or Bull.: J. and L. Robert, 'Bulletin Epigraphique', yearly in Revue des Etudes Grecques from 1939-1984 (Now also published separately as books). After the death of L. Robert, a new series has started in 1987, under the overall direction of Ph. Gauthier, but a separate author for each section. It is less consistently authoritative but nevertheless useful. The original series was a magisterial review of almost all the publications on Greek epigraphy each year. It does not give the complete texts, but has excellent notes and comments on other publications. It is always worth finding out what the Roberts or their successors have to say about a text with which you are dealing. There are detailed separate index volumes on the BE volumes which appeared between 1939-1981: Greek words, publications, and French key-words. There are as yet no indexes for the later volumes.

Keeping up-to-date with Roman inscriptions (Greek and Latin):

AE (= AnnEpigr) L'Année Epigraphique, the best place to begin your search for new, interesting Latin inscriptions. Yearly survey (since end of last century) of Latin inscriptions published outside the corpora. AE follows broadly the organisation of CIL (i.e. is geographical), but has a general section as well, which includes some short notes on publications of wider interest on law, institutions, onomastics, prosopography etc. It also includes some Greek material from the eastern Roman provinces (but in this respect is not complete). It has extensive indices of: Publications consulted; geography; nomina, cognomina; Roman tribes; Gods, goddesses, priests, res sacrae; emperors, empresses; res publicae; consular dates; magistrates; army matters; ancient authors; professions and collegia; and (if all else fails) 'particularités' (including Latin words); and concordances to earlier AE volumes and major publications. Some information on the project can be found at:

JRS: Journal of Roman Studies. Note the (nearly) quinquennial surveys by J. Reynolds (et al.) since 1960 of important and interesting inscriptions, publications and trends in epigraphy and the wider areas for which it has relevance. This is not a survey of individual texts, but more a 'bibliographie raisonnée', extremely readable and useful, and well aware of the wider trends in ancient history (in Cambridge and elsewhere).You could do worse than read the most recent surveys: R.Gordon. M. Beard, J. Reynolds and C. Roueché: 'Roman inscriptions 1986-1990' in: JRS 83 (1993), 131-158 and 'Roman Inscriptions 1991-1995' in JRS 87 (1997).

L'Année Philologique includes a section on current epigraphical publications, which can yield hidden treasures.

Britannia: Since 1970 contains a regular survey of newly discovered inscriptions in Britain, such as earlier appeared in JRS.

Epigraphy and IT.

(This section is now largley superseded by the document electronic epigraphy)

The recent developments in IT have had a (belated) effect on the world of epigraphy. The most important developments are collections of digital texts on CD and on the Web, and the crration of digital image bases (mainly on the Web). There is also a plethora of more or less useful web-based resources, of which I list a few below..

Greek and Latin texts

The most important development is, no doubt the creation of 'electronic' corpora and other collections of Greek and Latin texts, which make it very easy to find the inscription(s) you need.

oPHI 7. Cornell Greek Epigraphy ProjectThe Packhard Humanities Institute has issued a CD-Rom with Greek documentary texts (inscriptions and papyri). The CD contains most papyri and a very large collection of Greek inscriptions. The CD is more or less complete for Mainland Greece and the Islands, and it covers most of the corpora from Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt. Searching and downloading of texts is easy with Mousaios (PC) or Pandora (MAC). For more information on the project, as well as a list of contents, see their website at

o"Inscriptiones Graecae Eystettenses": "Inscriptiones Graecae Eystettenses" is a database for the study of the Greek Inscriptions of Asia Minor on CD Rom (PC only). It also will contain the corpus of Bithynia & Pontus which is under preparation. Information and a searchable test version on their website:

oEpigraph Database. Epigraph is a computerised version of the texts of CIL vi (see above). You can search for a wide variety of key-words (including Greek, and nomina and cognomina). The program is easy to use, and there is on-line help. It is also quite easy to print your text or transfer it to Macintosh files. Note that they do not use standard epigraphical symbols, but they provide an explanation. for more info see their website:

There is a number of On Line epigraphic databases with Latin inscriptions. They are extremely easy to use, and make your life much easier. Check them out!

oOn-line database of Latin Inscriptions, University of Frankfurt. A website with all the Latin texts published in L'Année Epigraphique from 1888 and onwards, and an ever increasing selection of Latin texts published in CIL and other corpora. You can browse the texts and download them quite easily. You can also use their wonderful E.mail word-search servive: if you are looking for a word, type it into their 'search-engine' and the results will be e.mailed to you. Highly recommended.

oEpigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg. This is a very ambitious project, it aims at integrating Latin inscriptions from all parts of the Roman Empire into an extensive database. There is a sophisticated search facility. The site contains all inscriptions published in L'Année Epigraphique and an increasing number of inscriptions published elsewhere (including recently published volumes of CIL). Their Website can be found at:

oLatin Inscriptions - The Internet Release. A third player in this market. It contains a large, and increasing selection of indexed Latin texts, and is particularly recommended for its sophisticated search engien, and for the fact that it contains all the texts published in ILS. Find them at their website (just follw the links).

oThe Roman Inscriptions of Britain

The broadcaster and writer Guy de la Bédoyère has published the texts of RIB on the Web. These are 'bare' texts, without additions. They are arranged geographically in two 'htm files'. They can be browsed easily at his website:

oInscriptions from Barcino (Barcelona). A small site with the text of the Latin inscriptions from Barcino (browsable).

oInscriptions from Israel At the moment, only the inscriptions from Beth She'arim are available http://jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU/mls4n/

Imaging Projects

At a number of places images of inscriptions (or squeezes) are being made available. This will be of interest mainly to those who wish to check the edited versions against the originals, but the physical form of the text can also be an important factor in our interpretation.

oThe Imaging Project CSAD. The CSAD (see below) is the main player in this field. Over the last years it has produced a large and expanding image database of Greek inscriptions (mainly taken from its squeeze collection). The quality of the images is very high with resolutions of 72 dpi and 150 dpi. T he images are listed according to geographical region - except for Attic inscriptions, which have been further divided between IG I and IG II texts, and they can be browsed easily.

oDigitised Images from the Cox Archive. The CSAD is now also host to a database with images of the inscriptions published in x and xi . They are photographs and squeezes from Sir Christopher Cox's two Phrygian expeditions in 1925 and 1926.

oBill Thayer's site of Latin Inscriptions (Kansas) A useful site with images and text of more than 200 Latin inscriptions from Italy. He also has several useful links.

Other Projects and useful websites

oThe Delphi database. On the website of the Cornell Epigraphy Project you will also find the a concordance of the bibliography of inscriptions from and pertaining to Delphi.

oInscriptions from Macedonia. An online exhibition of a selection of inscriptions from Macedonia produced by the Greek Ministry of Culture. htm

oEpigraphic Museum Athens. Homepage of the Epigraphical Museum in Athens, with a few images of famous inscriptions in the museum..

oMuseo Nazionale. Naples. Homepage of the epigraphic collection of the Museo Nazionale in Naples.

oInstrumentum Domesticum from Austria A site dedicated to inscriptions and grafitti on Instrumentum domesticum in Austria

oThe Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania. On line trial version of an electronic version of The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania edited by J. M. Reynolds & J.B. Ward-Perkins (London & Rome, 1952). You have to pay for full access.

oInscriptions from the Land of Israel.This project seeks to collect and make available all the inscriptions from the Land of Israel that date from the Hellenistic period (c. 330 BCE) through the Persian conquest (614 C.E.). At the moment, only the inscriptions from Beth She'arim are available. http://jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU/mls4n/

oFonti Epigraphiche. A useful and exhaustive page with epigraphic links (Italian language).

oCSAD. The Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents provides a home for Oxford University's epigraphical archive, which includes one of the largest collections of squeezes (paper impressions) of Greek inscriptions in the world, together with the Haverfield archive of Roman inscriptions from Britain, and a substantial photographic collection. The strengths of the epigraphical archive lie in its broad coverage of early Greek inscriptions, Attic epigraphy and the Hellenistic world. The material in the archive is currently being reorganised and catalogued. The home page of the Oxford CSAD has a wide selection of useful resources and epigraphic links

oASGLE Founded in 1996, The American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy maintains a web site for the posting of news of interest to epigraphers. It contains The epigrapher's book shelf , a collaborative attempt to make basic information about epigraphical techniques and bibliography available on the web The home-page has a large selections of useful links to resources and other epigraphic websites.

oCENTER FOR EPIGRAPHICAL AND PALAEOGRAPHICAL STUDIES (Ohio). The Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies at The Ohio State University is the only comprehensive research facility for the study of Greek and Latin inscriptions and manuscripts in the United States. The Center maintains an extensive collection of photographs and squeezes (accurate paper impressions of inscriptions) of Greek and Latin incriptions and microfilms of Latin manuscripts. The webiste gives access to ctalogues of the squeeze and phorograph collection, and has a number of useful links

Some technical information

The Guide de l'Epigraphiste ch. 8 (Etudes sur les inscriptions), has a survey of titles on such technical matters as: History and historiography of the 'discipline'; Methods and techniques; Palaeography; Linguistic aspects; Onomastics and prosopography; Topography and Chronology. You could also consult the various handbooks for guidance.

Critical signs:

Modern editions of inscriptions use a variety of critical signs. Since the 1930's most epigraphists have followed The 'Leiden' system. You can find the details in most manuals and handbooks. e.g. Gordon (1983), App. IV, 234-235.; Woodhead(1981), ch. 1. You'll find a brief survey at the back of this document. Other places where you can find an explanation:

oAt the beginning of each volume of SEG (a brief table with the major signs).

oFor a discussion of the system (and some suggestions): S. Dow, Conventions in editing, Duke University, 1969. (Greek Roman and Byzantine Scholarly Aids, 2).

oSome modifications of the Leiden system have recently been proposed. The details can be found in the latest issues of AE which is now using them. (see the list at the back of this document).

Texts that were published before 1931 may use different systems, it is worth checking whether the editor gives a list of symbols he or she uses. The most striking difference is the use of round brackets ( ) where the Leiden system prefers angled brackets < >.

oA short survey of the old system can be found in Tod, A selection of Greek inscriptions. vol 1 Oxford, 1946 (2), p.xx.

oThe 'old' system is also used by L. Robert, and by other, mainly French, epigraphists influenced by him. Robert defends his choices and outlines his method in: La Carie II (1954), 9-13.

Latin abbreviations:

One 'problem' of Latin inscriptions is that they use a wide variety of abbreviations in the text, which are not all immediately comprehensible. Most introductions to Latin epigraphy contain a brief survey of frequently used abbrevations eg.

oGordon (1981), App. II, pp 207-225.

oILS, 3.2, 752-797.

oR. Cagnat, Cours d'épigraphie latine. Paris, 1914, p. 408-473. (D 21.6 2).

oA handy computer generated list can be found on the pages of ASGLE:

Greek abbreviations:

oM. Avi-Yonah, 'Abbreviations in Greek inscriptions', most easily available in: A.N. Oikonomides (ed) Abbreviations in Greek inscriptions, papyri,manuscripts, and early printed Books. Chicago, 1974.

Greek numerals:

Greek inscriptions have various systems of indicating numbers: an alphabetic system (a= 1 etc.) and an (older) 'acrophonic' system (based on the first letter of the name of the numeral: e.g. 5 = pevnte > ∏).

oAn overview in Woodhead (1983), 108-112.

oA full survey in a series of articles by M.N. Tod in ABSA.

oA handy aide-mémoire can be found on the Epigraphic bookshelf pages of ASGLE (also reprinted at the back of this document):

There is also a system based on the letters of the Greek alphabet.

a table of Greek numerals

Letter Value Letter Value Letter Value

αʹ 1 ιʹ 10 ρʹ 100

βʹ 2 κʹ 20 σʹ 200

γʹ 3 λʹ 30 τʹ 300

δʹ 4 μʹ 40 υʹ 400

εʹ 5 νʹ 50 φʹ 500

ϝʹ or ϛʹ 6 ξʹ 60 χʹ 600

ζʹ 7 οʹ 70 ψʹ 700

ηʹ 8 πʹ 80 ωʹ 800

θʹ 9 ϟʹ 90 ϡʹ 900

Description of system:

The following description of the system is quoted from an email message posted to Epigraph-L by George Pesely, Austin Peay State University, Thursday, 19 June 1997, 9:42 EDT:

In addition to the 24 letters in the Ionic alphabet, three other letters used in some epichoric Greek alphabets are given numerical values--digamma (looks like F and follows E), Qoppa (looks like Q and follows Pi), and Sampi (consists of a crescent with the convex side facing right and two diagonal lines towards the lower left, and follows Omega). The values are: Numbers one to nine: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Digamma, Zeta, Eta, Theta Numbers ten to ninety: Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Xi, Omicron, Pi, Qoppa Numbers one hundred to nine hundred: Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon, Phi, Chi, Psi, Omega, Sampi For example, 334 would be represented by Tau + Lambda + Delta, with a stroke to the right after the last letter ( tldV ); for numbers of one thousand and above, the letters are re-used but a stroke to the lower left indicates the higher value, Alpha as 1000, etc.

Modern abbreviations for epigraphical publications:

This can be another problem. Many authors refer to epigraphical publications by abbreviations in the style: IvEph, IK, TAM, COMIK, ILLPRON, which are not always transparant. There has been little standardisation in this matter so far. Useful tables of commonly used abbreviations can be found in

othe Guide de l'Epigraphiste, p 16-17

oAlso at the beginning of the recent SEG volumes.

oRecently a proposal for a checklist was made by Horsley and Lee in Epigraphica 56 (1994), 129-169, (this uses the Checklist for Papyri and Ostraka as a model),

oStandard abbreviations of titles of periodicals can be found in L'Année Philologique.

NB It is best to follow the abbreviations used by these publications. But whatever system you choose, be consistent.

Critical signs: Leiden system plus additions

o[ ab ] Letters restored by editor as once having been inscribed but now lost

o{ a b } Superfluous letters added in error by the inscribrer and excised by the editor

o< a b > Letter added by the editor which the inscriber of the text has either omitted or for which he has by error inserted other letters.

o(ab) Letters which complete words abbreviated in the text

o[[ab]] Letters or spaces deliberately erased in antiquity (rasura)

oα̣ β̣ ε̣ Letters of which sufficient traces remain to print them in the text but not enough to exclude other readings are dotted.

o[ . . .5 . .] Lost or illegible letters equal to the number of dots for which no restoration is proposed

o[ - - - - -] Lost or illegible letters of an uncertain number

ov One un-inscribed letter space

ovac(.at) The remainder of the line has been left un-inscribed

oIn some recent publications of Latin inscriptions you may also find:

o a ¬  Letters or syllables corrected by the editor

o+ Letter of which only traces are visible

The British Epigraphy Society

The British Epigraphy Society was founded in 1996 in order to promote the study of all aspects of Greek and Roman epigraphy and to facilitate contact between researchers and students in British universities. The society organises several meetings a year. There are also plans to organise summer schools and seminars. If you join the Society you are entitled to a substantial discount on many major epigraphic publications. More information on the society can be found at its website:

Onno van Nijf September 15, 2000 (typographically improved in 2009)