Priene Inscription

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Priene Inscription
Dedication of Alexander the Great to Athena Polias at Priene.jpg
Part of the Priene Inscription on display in the British Museum
Material Marble
Size 120 cm wide and 49.5 cm high
Created c.330 BC
Present location British Museum, London
Identification 1870.3-20.88

The Priene Inscription is a dedicatory inscription by Alexander the Great that was discovered at the Temple of Athena Polias, in the city of Priene in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in the nineteenth century. It now forms an important part of the British Museum's Ancient Greek epigraphic collection and provides a direct link to one of the most famous persons in ancient history.[1] This inscription (circa 330 BC) about the dedication of a temple by Alexander to Athena Polias, which has been held at the British Museum in London, should not be confused with the Priene calendar inscription (circa 9 BC) also found at Priene in Turkey, which is about Augustus Caesar, and about redefining the calendar around the birthdate of Augustus Caesar.[2]

Discovery[edit]

The inscription was found in the precincts of the temple in 1868-9 by the architect Richard Pullan, who at the time was leading an archeological exploration of Priene on behalf of the Society of Dilettanti. The dedicatory inscription was found at the end of one of the temple's walls, together with records of the Prienean Civic Codes. Pullan brought back inscriptions, sculptures and architectural remains from the site to England, where they were immediately deposited in the national collection.

Background[edit]

Alexander the Great's army crossed the Hellespont in 334 BC and defeated the Persian army at the Battle of the Granicus; he then proceeded along the Ionian coast, touring cities and expelling Persian garrisons as he did so. At Priene he generously supported the completion of the temple of Athena, which is recorded for posterity on this large marble block.

Description[edit]

The marble wall block is inscribed on both sides in the ancient Greek language. Part of the inscription records the gift of funds provided by Alexander to build the temple. Another part refers to a resolution of land disputes between different neighbouring kingdoms following the expulsion of the Persians.[3]

Translation of the Inscription[edit]

Inscription:

ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ ΑΝΕΘΗΚΕ ΤΟΝ ΝΑΟΝ ΑΘΗΝΑΙ ΠΟΛΙΑΔΙ

Translation:

King Alexander dedicated the Temple to Athena Polias

References[edit]

  1. ^ British Museum Highlights
  2. ^ The Priene Inscription: Or Calendar Inscription of Priene, available [masseiana.org/priene.htm online]
  3. ^ British Museum Collection

Further reading[edit]

  • F. Frances (Ed), Treasures of the British Museum, London, 1972
  • B.F. Cook, Greek inscriptions (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)
  • I. Jenkins, Greek Architecture and its Sculpture, The British Museum Press, 2006