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Classical Epigraphy

Postgraduate training

The department has a unique Taught MA programme [Ancient Visual and Material Culture], including a stream incorporating the Postgraduate City of Rome course at the British School at Rome [Visual and Material Culture of Ancient Rome] and short courses at the British School at Athens [Visual and Material Culture of Ancient Greece], in which students have the opportunity to specialise in Classical Epigraphy.

We regularly visit the British Museum or Ashmolean Museum as part of the course, so that students gain experience of studying inscriptions as monuments and not just as texts. The course is also adapted to suit the linguistic knowledge of the participants: even Beginners in Latin or Ancient Greek can enjoy studying Classical Epigraphy. Our postgraduates have also taken part in the British School at Rome Epigraphy Summer School and the Practical Epigraphy Workshops run by the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents. Taught MA students are eligible to apply to the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning for grants to support research beyond the syllabus content for the Taught MA (see report on the project, ‘The display of Greek epigraphical texts in Athenian museums’). Students taking this MA have gone on to complete PhD theses on Roman Cyprus, and the cult of Asclepius in the Roman world; Renaissance epigraphic manuscripts; inscribed sculptures of Archaic Greece. Please contact Prof Alison Cooley for further information.

Current research projects and collaborative work

Alison Cooley has recently completed a new edition of the collection of Latin Inscriptions in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (AshLI project), in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and the Ashmolean Museum. Some of the particularly noteworthy results of this research have been published in ZPE and Britannia. She is a member of the research team led by Clifford Ando undertaking a new edition of Roman Statutes. She is joint series editor, with Andrew Meadows, of Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents (Oxford University Press). The series includes the following recent volumes: Adak & Thoneman (2022) Teos and Abdera. Two Cities in Peace and War; Parker & Steele (eds) (2021) The Early Greek Alphabets; Bowman, Crowther, Hornblower (eds) (2021) Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions; Tuplin & Ma (2021) Arshama and his World. She is also a member of the international team of Année Epigraphique, producing the section each year on the province of Britannia, and is a member of the advisory board for the following research projects: 'Materiality and meaning in Greek festival culture of the Roman Imperial period' (PI Zahra Newby); 'Latin Now: Latinization of the north-west provinces – sociolinguistics, epigraphy, and archaeology' (PI Alex Mullen); 'Connectivity and competition: multilingualism in Ancient Italy 800-200 BC' (PI Katherine McDonald); 'Crossreads: Text, materiality and multiculturalism at the crossroads of the ancient Mediterranean' (PI Jonathan Prag). She is a member of the advisory board of the Urbana Species series published by Quasar, and is President of the International Digital Epigraphy Association. Most recently, she has been collaborating on the use of 3-D imaging in cultural heritage and education with Paul Wilson of Warwick Manufacturing Group, using the Chichester Tablet as a case-study. She is co-organising a panel on Epigraphy and Heritage with Silvia Orlandi at CIEGL 2022, Bordeaux.

Naomi Carless Unwin has worked for many years on the epigraphy of Asia Minor, with a focus on the region of Karia. Her recent monograph, Karia and Krete in Antiquity: Cultural Interaction between Anatolia and the Aegean (CUP, 2017) examined the relationship between south-western Asia Minor and the island in the longue durée, with particular attention paid to the insights of epigraphy during the Hellenistic period. Her current research project, the Materiality of Festival Culture in the Graeco-Roman East, is focused on the epigraphy of Greece and Asia Minor in the Roman Imperial period, exploring what inscriptions can reveal in terms of the conduct of ancient festivals, and how they were used as monuments to shape civic and religious space. Naomi has also been involved in the excavations at Labraunda in south-western Turkey since 2009, with a concentration on the epigraphy of the site; she co-authored the publication of a new Hellenistic inscription from the sanctuary in 2016.

Suzanne Frey-Kupper is part of the collaborative working group investigating with Jonathan Prag, Filippo Battistoni, Alessia Di Martino, Lorenzo Campagna and others the Taormina Financial Documents. She is focussing on coin denominations, metrology and aspects on finances arising from the inscriptions. The studies on these extraordinary documents from Hellenistic Sicily will be published in a volume of the OUP series of Oxford Studies and Ancient Documents (see above).

Recent publications in epigraphy

  • (2020) ‘Basket-bearers and gold-wearers: epigraphic insights into the material dimensions of processional roles in the Graeco-Roman East’, Kernos 33: 89-125 (N. Carless Unwin)
  • (2020) ‘The Epigraphic Curve in Phrygia and its Borderlands’, in K. Nawotka (ed.), The Epigraphic Culture(s) in the Eastern Mediterranean in Antiquity (Routledge): 144-165 (N. Carless Unwin)
  • ‘Multilingualism in Karia and the Social Dynamics of Linguistic Assimilation’ in O. Henry & K. Konuk (eds.), Karia Arkhaia: La Carie, des origines à la période pré-hékatomnide (2019): 43-60 (N. Carless Unwin)
  • (2019) ‘The Res Gestae in its provincial contexts’, Lampas 52.3: 262-75 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2019) 'Two Latin Inscriptions from Ephesos in the Ashmolean Museum', in From Document to History: Epigraphic Insights into the Greco-Roman World, eds C. Norena, N. Papzarkados (Brill, Leiden) 431-54 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2018) Breaking through the language barrier – bringing ‘dead’ languages to life through sensory and narrative engagement Museum Management and Curatorship, 33:5, 428-446, (Abigail Baker, with Alison Cooley)
  • (2018) ‘The curious case of Flora’, in Animo Decpiendi? Rethinking Fakes and Authorship in Classical, Late Antique and Early Christian Works, eds A. Gurzman and J. Martínez, 285-90 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2018) 'Monumental Latin inscriptions from Roman Britain in the Ashmolean Museum collection', Britannia 49: 225-49 (Published online: 18 June 2018) (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2018) 'New Approaches to the Epigraphy of the Roman World', Journal of Epigraphic Studies 1: 27-46 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2018) ‘Latin inscriptions in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, ZPE 205: 253-67 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2017) Caria and Crete in Antiquity: Cultural Interaction between Anatolia and the Aegean, Cambridge (N. Carless Unwin) 
  • (2016) 'Mylasa and Krete: the context of the Mylasan 'Kretan dossier'', Revue des Etudes Anciennes Vol. 118, no. 2 413-442 (N. Carless Unwin)
  • (2016) 'A new Olympichos inscription from Labraunda: I. Labraunda 137', with O. Henry, Epigraphica Anatolica 49 (2016): 27-45 (N. Carless Unwin)
  • (2016) 'What's in a Name? Linguistic Considerations in the Study of 'Karian' Religion', CHS Research Bulletin Vol. 4, No. 2 (N. Carless Unwin)

Staff working in this area

Alison Cooley

Naomi Carless Unwin