Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth I

I. Introduction

This post represents the first installment at Current Epigraphy of what will be a summer-long “Virtual Seminar on some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth.” For the next few months about every two weeks I will upload Don Laing’s and my preliminary text of a Greek or Latin inscription from Corinth and invite suggestions for restorations or comments on the context, date, etc. Tom Elliott and Gabriel Bodard will then work up an EpiDoc version of the resulting texts. As Tom Elliott explained here, the purpose of this first-ever virtual epigraphical seminar is to promote a new model of collaboration and publication of epigraphical texts with the following benefits: a preliminary text will be made available more quickly; scholars or those interested will be able to “attend” the seminar at their leisure from anywhere in the world with an internet connection; students will see how epigraphers work and it may raise more interest in the discipline; there should be more interest in the final print version that will appear in Hesperia, where proper attribution to those who proposed any particular idea or reading will be given and comments on this experiment will be included; the final print publication will be stronger (these inscriptions from Corinth, like most inscriptions from there, are very fragmentary and they lend themselves to collaborative treatment); the project will introduce more epigraphers to the advantages of EpiDoc. Special thanks are due Guy Sanders (Director of the ASCSA dig at Corinth) and Charles Watkinson (Director of ASCSA Publications) for their support of this project.

II. Historical Background to the Inscriptions

These inscriptions were unearthed on Corinth’s Temple Hill between 1970 and 1978 in the excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens that were overseen by H.S. Robinson and partly supported by the Temple Hill Fund administered by Case Western Reserve University. H.S. Robinson assigned Don Laing to publish them, and last year Don asked me to join him in finally getting them out. In June of 2007, therefore, the two of us went to ancient Corinth and did autopsies of the stones; the readings given in all subsequent posts will represent our joint opinion of what we saw. [As a personal side note, I want to wish Don all the best, as two weeks ago he found out that he has lymphoma and last week he underwent his first round of chemotherapy; he tells me that his first treatment went well and that he is feeling fine].

III. Abstract

In this first post Don and I will conclusively show that a partially published fragment of an archaic text belongs with an already published sacrificial calendar (Meritt, ICor VIII,1 1). We will also follow H.S. Robinson in positing that this sacrificial calendar was housed under the Late Geometric Temple’s roof, where it was destroyed by fire ca. 570 BCE. In addition, we will present for the first time a second inscription that is inscribed on a lead tablet; it too records a sacrificial calendar that is similar, or possibly even identical, to the stone sacral calendar. Finally, based on this new material, we will suggest a new layout for ICor VIII, 1 1, proffer a historical context for the monument, and invite comments.


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16 Responses to Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth I

  1. Pingback: Current Epigraphy » Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth II

  2. MathieuCarbon says:

    First of all, congratulations and thanks for posting this; it’s a wonderful initiative and I hope there will be others like it.

    Some comments on your edition of ICor VIII, 1 1:
    The interpretation of the first word as a month name seems a good one, but might it not be best to reserve judgment about whether this a sacred calendar or some other type of sacred law?
    If the readings are correct, the amount of piglets sacrificed is perhaps worth commenting on. One possible comparandum that springs to mind comes from the sacred calendar of the Marathonian Tetrapolis, where χοῖροι τρεῖς are sacrificed to Kore, in addition to a ram (IG II(2) 1358 col.2, line 44; Sokolowski, LSCG 20.B.44; in Metageitnion). Scores of piglets were associated in particular with Eleusinian sacrifices, although not exclusively. This might suggest a hypothetical context for the sacrifice in your fragment. And could it be presumed that Fränkel’s alternative reading–four piglets–was inspired by IC IV 4 4, line 2 (Gortyn, end 7C-early 6C): [— —]τυτυι | ἔτι δὲ ϟοῖρο[ι {χοῖροι} | τέτορες | καὶ ϝαρὴν [— — — — —]?

    The new text:
    Again, can we be sure that this a sacred calendar and not simply a series of sacrificial prescriptions issued by some authority? But you must surely be right about the similarities between the letterforms of the two texts.
    Incidentally, cf. now a similar sacred law inscribed on lead: E. Lhôte, Les lamelles oraculaires de Dodone, no. 142. Since that text is known only from a German translation and rather unique, it’s problematic, yet it clearly appears to be a series of deities in the dative followed by sacrificial victims prescribed by the oracle. In this light, could we think of the lead text as in some way a blueprint for the one inscribed on stone?

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  4. PaulIversen says:


    Thank you for your comments and questions. I’ll try to respond to each in order.

    While it is possible that these texts could be some type of a lex sacra rather than a calendar, such calendars are quite common and the preserved portions of all the fragments of both texts are consistent with a calendar, so we’re comfortable with calling them such, as was Meritt, Dow, and Fränkel of the stone text.

    The idea of trying to identify the deity based on the type of animal or number had occurred to us, but we abandoned the idea after some searching. For instance, on one of the texts you cite (IG II2 1358), if I’m reading the acrphonic numerals correctly, I believe we find three pigs sacrificed to Athena Ellotis (col. I, line 55), three pigs sacrificed to a hero and heroine (col. II, lines 3-4; in the first example the numeral is restored), three pigs to Kourotrophos (col. II, line 14, where the numeral is restored, col. II, line 37, and col. II line 42), three pigs to Neania (col. II, line 21; numeral restored), three pigs to the Morai (col. II, line 28), and finally your example of three pigs to Kore (col. II, line 44). This last example, however is odd, since here the inscriber employs the plural of the sacrificial animal followed by the word τρεῖς, followed by the acrophonic numeral nine, rather than using a singular form followed by an acrophonic numeral as he usually does elsewhere. In addition, on SEG 21.541 (from Erchia, Attica) we again find three pigs to Kourotrphos (several times), three pigs to Zeus Epopetes (col. III, lines 21-6), three pigs to Epops (col. IV, lines 21-4 and col. V, lines 13-16), and three pigs to Zeus Orios (col. V, lines 29-32). In short, even the evidence in Attica does not allow one to surmise the deity based on the animal and the number sacrificed. All we can say is that throughout the Greek world three pigs is epigraphically attested more often than four. I, too, suspect that four may have been preferred by previous scholars based on IC IV 4 4, line 2.

    And thank you very much for the comparandum from Dodona! It may be quite helpful. And yes, the other possibility I had considered was that the lead tablet might have been used as a model for the stone masons to copy, but it slipped my mind as I was writing up the post.


    Paul Iversen

  5. MathieuCarbon says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your replies to my comments; I’m hoping you might consider the following further replies and thoughts.
    Concerning the precise identification of the first texts, I of course agree with you that identfying them as a part of a “sacred calendar” is not particularly problematic. Yet I was also wondering if we have any way of determing with some measure of probability the original extent or length of the stone. Sacred calendars are usually quite lengthy and detailed inscriptions. If the original stone at Corinth was of relatively compact dimensions, then it might be that you dealing with an extract or possibly several extracts from a sacred calendar; in other words some sort of abbreviated version? Such extracts are found notably on Rhodes (cf. e.g. Lindos II 26; there are many other examples), and were presumably derived from larger calendars. Note also that these extracts regularly begin simply with a date as a header–like your text, if that is the first line?–whereas we probably would expect more lengthy sacred calendars to begin more formally in the manner of official or accounts accounts (cp. e.g. SEG 21.541, Erchia).
    Concerning the piglets: I think you might be misunderstanding the numerals in the calendar of the Marathonian Tetrapolis. These are usually taken to refer to the amounts in drachmai allotted or allowed for the purchase of these sacred animals (hence a single victim, in the singular, can followed by large numerals, e.g. ΔΔΔ). So there’s actually only one piglet being sacrificed to Athena Ellotis at a cost of three drachmai (etc.). Granted, that’s still a lot piglets in total, and it’s of course almost always too difficult to link gods and rites very closely, but only for Kore (as far as we know) were three piglets sacrificed. This might therefore remain a valid, albeit very tentative, comparandum.
    Best wishes,


  6. PaulIversen says:


    We, like all previous scholars, believe that in Frag A we have the beginning of the monument’s text, but at present there is no way, as far as I know, to determine this structure’s size. The size and scale of the letters suggests it was quite big. The only thing I think we can say with certainty is that the first fragment published belonged to a block that had 2 to 4 incribed faces. As noted in my description, however, there is some evidence that perhaps it had more than one block set side by side. I hadn’t thought of it being an extract, but that’s certainly a possibility.

    Just an interesting side note. Another similar, maddeningly fragmentary block with a similar text was recently found at Korinth that will be published by Ben Millis and Ron Stroud, but the lettering is of inferior quality and it appears it does not belong with our monument.

    Thanks again for the clarification on the acrophonic numerals. Of course, you’re right — the acrophonic numerals in IG II(2) 1358 must be drachs, which also explains the use of singulars and plurals with the victims. I’ll have to rethink the idea of identification of the deity being Kore based on number. A note on this with a hat tip to you is certainly warranted.

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  8. MathieuCarbon says:

    Hi Paul,

    Just an addendum: I recently realised that Eran Lupu in his book Greek Sacred Law actually anticipated several of the comments I made previously about your text (see pp. 65-66 with n.332 especially); I thought you might like to include that in your eventual note on the subject of the multiple piglets.
    Best wishes,


  9. PaulIversen says:

    In an excellent question via email that I think should be added to the record here, Eran Lupu asks whether “long o and ou interchangeable at this time period at Corinth for the spurious diphthong o (long)/ou?”

    Here he’s referring to the spelling of βoν for βοῦν on the lead tablet. I don’t yet know the answer to that question, but obviously it may have a significant bearing on dating the lead tablet (and possibly the stone calendar by extension). For now I’ll just note that LSJ at the end of the their lemma on βοῦς state that “βοῦς (from βωύς, Skt. gaús) acc. βῶν (Skt. gām) are old forms: stem βωϝ- βοϝ-, cf. Lat. (Umbr.) bos, etc.” (my emphasis).

  10. MathieuCarbon says:

    One relatively early Dorian instance of βο̑ν for βοῦν is IG IV²,1 41 (c. 400 BC, Epidauros), which begins as follows:

    το̑ι Ἀσσκλαπιο̑ι θύεν βο̑-
    ν ἔρσενα καὶ ℎομονάοις
    βο̑ν ἔρσενα καὶ ℎομονάα-
    ις βο̑ν θε̄́λειαν.

    There are several others but not from the Peloponnese.

  11. Alexander Jones says:

    Paul suggests I post this enquiry here in case any RSS-alert regulars here may either have some useful information or for that matter be interested in a new source of information on the Corinthian calendar.

    My interest in this is somewhat remote: I have been working with several colleagues on the inscriptions on the bronze plates of the Antikythera Mechanism, c. 100 B.C., and we recently published a preliminary (i.e. more or less complete but not conforming to epigraphic conventions) transcription of a calendar inscribed on one of the dials, which I identified as the Corinthian calendar.

    The publication is dowloadable: (main article, very telegraphic as is Nature’s style) (supplementary notes–this is the real presentation of the evidence)

    We are now working on a fuller “epigraphic” publication of these inscriptions, hence the enquiry.

    Most of the comparison evidence for the Corinthian calendar is from inscriptional evidence from Corinthian colonies in Epirus and thereabouts, and doesn’t provide good evidence for the order of months and the beginning of the year. (The most recent discussions are in Trümpy’s monograph on Greek calendars and in Cabanes’ first appendix to the new vol. 2 of CIGIME.) The text from the mechanism does give us the order and starting month, the months in order being:

    1. Phoinikaios
    2. Kraneios
    3. Lanotropios [there may be some question about the precise reading for this one]
    4. Machaneus
    5. Dôdekateus
    6. Eukleios
    7. Artemisios
    8. Psydreus
    9. Gameilios
    10. Agrianios
    11. Panamos
    12. Apellaios

    A trickier question, not directly answered by the Mechanism’s inscriptions, is the alignment of the months and the year start with the seasons, though I think there are good arguments for situating the year start, Phoinikaios, in mid to late autumn.

    I was aware of the Corinthian inscription with Phoinikaios (this is the only inscription from Corinth I know of with a month name attestation) but I hadn’t bothered to look it up, but now I see from your discussion that there is a consensus that Frag. A with the Phoinikaios is the beginning of the text. So I’m curious whether, from the nature of such documents, that would tend to support, or be supported by perhaps, the identification of Phoinikaios as the first month of the year? I should add that there is no question of it being so for the mechanism’s version of the calendar, but one might allow for the possibility that year starts might change over several centuries or from one locality to another.

    And by any chance does anyone know of any other *Corinthian* evidence for the Corinthian calendar’s composition or structure besides this one text?

  12. PaulIversen says:

    Dear Alexander,

    Thank you for this excellent post and especially for your link to your Nature article. By the way, the second link is available to the public without buying Nature and was very informative.

    Yes, I think that ICor VIII 1,1 indicates that Phoinikaios was the first month of the Corinthian year, but of course as you say we do not know at what point in the year this fell. I see that Trümpy does not place it first, but Pauly-Wissowa does. What does Cabanes say? Obviously with your additional evidence, P-W is more likely to be right.

    Unfortunately I do not know of any other good evidence for any other month names at Corinth.

    In reading the supplemental notes in your article in Nature, I see on page 17 (p. 19 of the PDF), that you and your co-authors write “The testimony for the Syracusan calendar is regrettably slight; such as it is, it offers obstacles to equating the Syracusan with the Corinthian calendar. First, a month name beginning ‘Apo-‘ appears to be attested in a single inscription; this has been restored conjecturally as Apollonios, a month name found on the Tauromenian calendar, but not in the Corinthian. Not much weight can be assigned to this doubtful reading.”

    I was just wondering whether this evidence really presents much of an obstacle for attributing the mechanism to Syracuse? Ἀπέλλων is the Doric, generally earlier, spelling of Ἀπόλλων, so one can easily imagine that some cities prefered to make the name of the month in this god’s honor more explicit by giving it a more modern-sounding designation, or a spelling that was more pan-Hellenic, and maybe the inscriber at Syracuse made a simple error.

    By the way, Nancy Bookidis and Ron Stroud recently published in Hesperia 73 (2004) a pottery fragment that was found on Temple Hill with the spelling Ἀπέλλωνι (partly restored — I don’t have the article with me). A drawing of the pottery fragment is in one of the old excavation notebooks, but the fragment itself is lost. They argue that this inscription was inscribed on a vessel that was dedicated to Apollo and thus provides further support for the belief that the large Temple on Temple Hill is that of Apollo. Of course this isn’t of much help for you, but it does remind one of the fact that the month Apellaios was probably so named because in that month there was a large festival in honor of Apellon/Apollon.

  13. MathieuCarbon says:

    Incidentally, isn’t Corinth 8,1 2 (ca. 200-150 BC) also good evidence for the month Phoinikaios?

    [ἐπὶ — — —]ρσίλα, Φοινικαίου,
    [ἐπειδὴ Ν]ικάδας Ἀλεξάνορος Αἰγιεὺς

    But of course this doesn’t add much to our knowledge other than indicating the survival of the month name into the Hellenistic period.

  14. PaulIversen says:

    For Corinth, Trümpy on page 163 has the following reconstruction:

    1. Γαμίλιος or Ψυδρεύς (the spelling Γαμείλιος attested at Bouthrotos and also on the Antiythera Mechanism) = Nov./Dec.
    2. Γαμίλιος or Ψυδρεύς = Dec./Jan.
    3. Εὐκλεῖος = Jan./Feb.
    4. Ἀρτεμίτιος (the spelling -σιος attested at Ambrakia and also on the Antikythera Mechanism) = Feb./March
    5. Πάναμος = March/April
    6. Φοινικαῖος = April/May
    7. Ἁλιοτρόπιος = May/June
    8. Ἀγριάνιος = June/July
    9. Ἀπελλαῖος = July/August
    10. Ἡραῖος = Aug./Sep.
    11. Καρνεῖος (spelling Κρανεῖος only attested at Bouthrotos and on Mechanism) = Sept./Oct.
    12. Μαχανεύς = Oct./Nov.

    It should be noted that on p. 161 she also lists the months of Γελώιος, Δατυῖος, and Διονύσιος as attested at some of the colonies/cities closely related to Corinth.

    So Lanotropios (which Alexander notes is not a certain reading) and Dodekateus are the ones that stand out on the Mechanism as differing from Trümpy’s reconstruction or other evidence, although Lanoptropios suspiciously resembles Haliotropios. Interesting to note that on Cabanes L’Épire 553,32, which is from Dodona, Cabanes reads λʹ Ἀ|[λιοτρ]οπίο[υ]. Could this be Λα|[νοτρ]οπίο[υ]?

    From Trümpy p. 155, the only month other than Φοινικαῖος that is attested for Corinth is Πάναμος, but this is in Demosthenes’ De Corona 157, not at Corinth itself. Trümpy p.155, n.659 seems to say that this Πάναμος corresponds with Macedonian Λώιος and Athenian Βοηδρομιών and directs the reader to see page 332 of Paton-Hicks Inscriptions of Cos for the evidence. But then in her reconstruction on page 163 she makes Corinthian Πάναμος correspond with Athenian Ἐλαφηβολιών (March/April). It may be worth looking into why she does this.

    The only other thing I can think to mention is that on IG II(2) 951 the month of Phoinikaios at Ambrakia is paired with the restored Athenian month of Thargelion at Athens. At a quick glance, I don’t understand why Thargelion was chosen for the restoration; it seems to me just about any month could be restored. I see, in fact, that Kirchner first restored Ποσιδεῶνος, but in the Corrigenda on p. 669 he cites Wilhelm Att. Stud. II SB. Wien. Akad. 1916, 23 for the supplement of Θαργηλιῶνος. Again, it may be worth looking into Wilhelm’s reasoning behind this.

    Finally, with your new information it is obviously worth going back to the stone and lead calendars to see if some new readings might result. The only possibility that I see is on line one of the lead tablet. We have Ρ̣ΙΑΔ̣ with both the rho and delta dotted. We thought the final letter could be delta, upsilon, zeta, heta, or chi. But the tablet is very damaged here, and there may be damage interfering with the reading (cf. the horizontal damage in line 3). Now that I look at the nu in line 3, which is going in the same direction as the letter in question in line 1, I see the lower tip of it’s right vertical has a bit of an angle. Based on this, I think that [Ἀγ]|ρ̣ιαν̣[ίο] may be entirely possible.

    I also see that I overlooked the month of hε[ραίο] as a possible restoration in line 3. So we might have:

    [– – – – – – – – – – Ἀγ]-
    ρ̣ιαν̣[ίο(?)· – – – – – – –]
    [– – Ἀθάναι Πολ]ίαδι β-
    ôν ⁝̣ hε[ραίο(?)· – – – –]
    [– – – – – – – – – – – (?)] vac.

    It’s worth noting that in Trümpy’s reconstruction, the month of Agrianios is before Heraios, with only the month of Apellaios intervening. The order of the possible restorations of Agrianios and Heraios on the tablet are thus consistent with her reconstruction if we assume the month of Apellaios was found in the missing portion between them. On Trümpy’s reconstruction, Heraios also occurs towards the end of the calendar, which is also consistent with the lead tablet (the vacat suggests we are at the end of the calendar).

    Of course Heraios is not on the Mechanism and the Mechanism’s order of months is different, so this new possible reading of the lead tablet’s evidence throws a bit of sand in the gears as it were.

  15. Chris Bennett says:

    Just a comment on the synchronism Corinthian Πάναμος = Macedonian Λώιος = Athenian Βοηδρομιών: This comes from a forged letter of Philip II supposedly quoted at Demosthenes’ De Corona 157. The forgery was recognised by Droysen, in part because the synchronism Macedonian Λώιος = Athenian Βοηδρομιών can’t be right in the fourth century (it works for Ptolemaic Egypt in the 250s). That doesn’t mean the synchronism Corinthian Πάναμος = Athenian Βοηδρομιών is wrong, but it isn’t very trustworthy.

  16. Eran Lupu says:

    I regret that I was not clear enough. What caught my eye was not βoν (not a spurious diphthong) but the restored o in line 1 (genitive as you say) and Fränkel’s ους in line 3 (for both case endings see e.g. Smyth 229; cf. 6, 37, 50). It actually does not matter much whether the diphthong is spurious or not (as in βoν) and it is entirely possible for both ου and long o to appear in the same inscription in a transitional stage. I simply wonder what the situation was at Corinth at this date (probably not much comparanda. Is a long o more prevalent in the genitive? I do not know).

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