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Hellenistic Greek

According to Herodotus, the Hellenes acquired the writing system from the Phoenicians. During their intense commercial relations with the Phoenicians, the Hellenes observed that the former were using certain signs in identifying goods and eventually adopted the system for their own use.

The alphabet in question was spread, by way of maritime trade, first to large commercial centers (Crete, Rhodes, and Euboea) and later across the other regions of Hellas. 

The alphabet Hellenes adopted from the Phoenicians is the Northern Semitic script written from right to left and comprised of 22 letters. Since the script was not transferred to Hellas in a regular time line, the Archaic Hellenistic script is noticeably unorganized and unevenly distributed. Therefore, the first alphabets of each region and city (polis) vary considerably during this period.

Having adopted writing from the Phoenicians, Hellenes made certain changes add adjusted the script to the structure of their own language. For example, they lent a phonetic character to some of the letters in the Phoenicians alphabet, which has no vowels, and in order to articulate certain sounds they could not express with this alphabet, they added some letters such as Φ, Χ, and Ψ to their own.

Originating from a common language, Hellenistic Greek gradually separated into Ionic, Attican, Aiolian, Arcadian-Cypriot, and Doric dialects. Despite the number of dialects, it did not diversify into different languages as in the case of new Latin languages. Adhering to orthographic tradition, each of the ancient Hellenistic dialects became the instrument of a specific literary genre. Consequently, the Ionic and Homeric dialect became the language of epics, the Doric dialect of choir songs, Aiolian dialect of lyrical poetry, the Attican dialect of tragedy, philosophy, and elocution.



Place of Discovery:
Castro, Metelin Island

Language: Hellenistic Greek

 Date: 3rd century AD

Material: Marble

İstanbul Archaeological Museums Collection







His owner buried the dog Parthenope he played with. (Mutual) love is rewarding in gratitude for this happiness, as in the case of this dog. As a friend to my owner, I deserve this grave. Take this example and find yourself a worthy friend who is ready to love you while you are alive and will also care for your body (when you die)”.

 [Translation: I.A.M]

Placed at graves and serving as a kind of identity card of the deceased, steles or tombstones were also used for pets as well. Inscribed in stone to elegize a dearly beloved pet whose passing caused grief for its owners, these lines demonstrate how much the dog was valued. Tombstone poets written in Ancient Greek for dogs are also encountered in Lesbos (Midilli), Bergama, Rome, and Termessos.


Place of Discovery: Andriake (Demre, Antalya)

Language: Hellenistic Greek

Date: 388-392 AD

Material: Limestone

Andriake Excavation Find, Inv. no 6a

During the administration of my master and the state governorship of the greatly admired and the holder of illustrious and renowned holy governorship positions Flavius Eutolmius, two iron fragellium and two copper ksestes in three augustia volumes were manufactured to be allocated; in addition, three modius have been manufactured to be sent from the highest post. Of these, one fragellium will be given to the Metropolis of the Myrans and the other will be sent to the city of the Arneaians. Of the ksetes is (to be given) to Myra and the other to Arneai; The Myrans will also be given two modius and also two hemimodius (half-modius); the Arneaians will receive one, whereas one hemimodius will be preserved at the Granarium in the custody of the state governments to control the measures (of liquid and solid goods) from time to time.”

 [Translation: S. Şahin]

Located on the sea route from East to West, Andriake is known, along with Patara, to be one of the two most important ports for grain fleets for the Egyptians and Greeks during the Roman Empire, and for Constantinople as of 4th century AD.  Recognized as one of the most expensive buildings of the Roman world, the city Horrea (Granarium or granary) of Andriake was of utmost importance not only for the transportation of the grains from Lycian plateaus, but also for the safety of the exports from Egypt. The inscription tablet on the façade of the Granarium, which mentions the name of praefectus praetorio Fl. Eutolmius Tatianus (388–392 AD), attests to the scaling and sealing of the weights and measures between the Myran Metropolis and Arneai, and also proves that the granarium in Andriake was in use during the Early Byzantine period as well.


 Place of Discovery: Unknown

Language: Hellenistic Greek

Date: 2nd-3rd century AD 

Material: Stone

Rezan Has Museum Collection



μνήμης ἕνεκα

Zosime (built) this stele in memory of her (husband/brother?) Rhodan.”

Votive stele offered after the deceased: In the Ancient Hellenic tradition, some tombs were bought while the owners were still alive; the depictions and inscriptions would be applied before the tomb owner passed away.


 Place of Discovery: Unknown 

Language: Hellenistic Greek

Date: 2nd-3rd century AD

Material: Marble

Rezan Has Museum Collection

Μητέρα Λητὼ Μαρκιανὴ Γλύκωνος

ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων ἀνέθηκεν

“Markiane, daughter of Glykon erected  (this votive offering) for Mother Goddess Leto by paying (money) out of her own pocket.”

As the Mother Goddess of Lycia, Leto is the mother of Apollo and Artemis in Hellenic mythology. This inscription was quite possibly discovered in the Mediterranean Region (Fethiye-Antalya), the native land of Goddess Leto.


Place of Discovery:
Bilecik Osmaneli- Selçik 

Language: Written in Turkish Karamanlıca with Hellenistic Greek

Date: 1893-1894

Material: Marble



Ταστζι Ν̣ικολαν̣ιν

χαιρ̣ατι· ͵ιαγα ́.

“Beneficence of quarrier Nikola (Date) 1311 (= 1893–1894).”

[Translation: H. S. Öztürk]

Writen with Turkish Karamanca. It was constructed as dibstone for the village people.



 Place of Discovery: Bilecik Osmaneli-Medetli

Language: Hellenistic Greek and Latin 

Date: 337-340 AD

Material: Marble                                               


     τὰ ἔτη

     τοῦ βασι[λέ-]

4   ας.

     Imp̣(eratori) Caes(ari) [Fl(avio) Val(erio)]

     Constantino p(io) f(elici)

     vic(tori) semper Aug(usto)

8   et Fl(avio) Iul(io) Const[a]ntio

     p(io) f(elici) vic(tori) semper Aug(usto)

     et Fl(avio) Iul(io) Constant

     p(io) f(elici) vic(tori) semper Aụg̣(usto)

12 A Nicaea mil(ia) XXV

     Ἀπὸ Νεικαίας


“To many long years of the King! Imperator, Caesar To Flavius Valerius Constantinus, the pious, fortunate, victorious (and) everlasting Augustus and Flavius Julius Constantius, the pious, fortunately victorious (and) everlasting Augustus and Flavius Iulius Constans, the pious, fortunate, to the victorious (and) perpetual Augustus. 25 (Roman) miles from Nicaea (= Nicaea).”

[Translation : H. S. Öztürk]

The inscription is in Hellenic and Latin, showing the distance between cities. It shows the distance to Ancient Nikaia (= Iznik). A Roman mile is approximately 1.45 km.


 Place of Discovery: Sakarya Pamukova-Akçakaya

Language: Hellenistic Greek

Date: 2nd century AD

Material: Limestone resembling marble


            Διλίπορις Ἄπφου ζῶν κα-

            τεσκέουασεν ἑαυτῷ

4          ἀνεξοδίαστον

            σὺν ταῖς οἰκίαις καθὼς περιείληπται.

            κἢν σπεύδῃς, ὦ ξεῖνε, καὶ ἢν εὔκαι-

            ρος ὁδεύῃς, / στῆθι παρ’ οὑμὸν σῆμα

8          καὶ εἴσῃ τοὔνομα τοὐμόν, / οὐκ ἀσό-

            φως ζητηθὲν ὑπὸ ζώοντος ἐμεῖο· / ἐν-

            νέα γράμματ’ ἔχω, τετρασύλλαβός εἰμι, νόει

            σύ· / αἱ τρεῖς αἱ πρῶται δύο γράμματ’ ἔχουσιν ἐκάσ-

12        τη, / ἡ λοιπὴ δὲ τὰ τρεία καὶ εἰσὶν ἄφωνα τὰ πέντε, /

            ἐστὶ δ’ ἀριθμὸς πένθ’ ἑκατοντάδες <ἠ>δὲ δὶς

            ἑπτά. / ταῦτ’ οὖν ζητήσας καὶ γνούς, ὅστις περ ὁ γρά-

            ψας, / γνωστὸς ἔσῃ Μούσαις καὶ σοφίης μέ-

16        τοχος. / μνῆμα δ’ ἐμὸν τόδε χεῖρες ἔτι ζώ-

            οντος ἔτευξαν / λαΐνεον γαίης Τέρβοιο,

            ἣν κατέχω. /

Diliporis, the son of Apphos, built the monument  for himself while he was still alive (and) he surrounded it with tomb structures: it cannot be sold. Whether you are in a hurry, O stranger, walk slowly on your path and learn my name, which was not chosen at random while I was alive: I have nine letters, four syllables, think: the first three and the number of consonants are five; The whole is the addition of two times seven to five hundred. If you seek and find and know who wrote these, you will be the companion of the Muses and the companion of wisdom. “My own hands erected this stone monument while I was still alive, in the province of Terbos, where I am now buried.”

 [Translation : S. Şahin]


Place of Discovery:
 Bilecik-Yenipazar (Doğubelenören Village) Ancient Nikaia (= İznik) 

Language: Hellenistic Greek

Date: 2nd century AD

Material: Limestone resembling marble

      Ὁ γλυκεροῦ βιότοιο τρυ-

      [φ]ῆ͜ς πάση̣ς ἀπολαύσας

      Χρῆ͜στος ἐνθάδε κεῖται

4   σὺν τῇ͜ ἑαυτοῦ γυν͜εκὶ Σευ-

      ῆρα μ͜ηδὲν μ͜ηδένα λυπή-

      [σ]ας καὶ πᾶσι φίλοις ἀρέσ-

      τ̣ος σῆμα δὲ μοι τοδὲ ἐ-

8   τ̣εὐξαν ἰς εὐσεβίη͜ν φίλα

      τέκνα Μᾶρκος κὲ Ἀρίστω[ν κ]-

      [α]ὶ Χρ͜ῆ͜στος το<ῖ>ς καλλιτ͜έκν-

      [ο]ισι γον͜εῦσιν ἰς εὐσεβίη͜ν

12 [ἵ]ν̣α ὁρᾶτε ζῆ(σας) ἔτ(η) οʹ.

“Khrestos, who tasted all the pleasures of the sweet life, did not anger anyone, and was kind to all his friends, lies here with his wife Severa. This tomb was built for me by my beloved children, Marcus, Ariston and Khrestos, as a religious occasion for the parents of good children, so that you can see it. “He lived 70 years.”

[Translation : H. S. Öztürk]


Place of Discovery:
 Bilecik-Yenipazar. Danişment Village. Ancient Nikaia (= İznik).

Language: Hellenistic Greek

Date: 2nd century AD

Material: Limestone resembling marble

      Ὁ σθεναρὸς πολύφρων, v

      πρέσβυς κρίσεω͜ς ὁ δίκαιος

      εὐσεβίη͜ς πάση͜ς Ἀντώ͜νιος

4   ἔσχον ἀμοιβὰς v ἐν λιπαρ͜ῷ γ͜ή͜ρᾳ

      μ͜[η]δενὶ λειπόμ͜ενος ἐκτέρι-

      σαν δὲ τέκν͜ω͜ν͜ βλασ͜τήματα

      μίζονα πατρός, v Μάξιμος,

8   ὃς πολέ͜ως ν͜έμ͜ει συνόδοιο

      γερουσίας, Ἀντώνιος

      γλυκύφρων, Σευῆρος, ὁμό-

      φρ[ο]νlες υἱοὶ μ͜η͜τρό͜ς, Ἀπολλω͜νίας

12 δὲ φιλανδροτάτ͜η͜ς π͜ροθανούσ͜[η͜ς]

      εὐσεβίη͜ς μ͜ν͜ή͜μ͜η͜ς γέρας ἔκτ[ι]-

      σαν͜, ὦ͜ παροδεῖτα, ἠϊθέοισί [. . .]

      τοῖς καλλιτ͜έκνοισι γονεῦσ[ι].

“I, Antony, wise, strong, and just in all judgments due to my age, have been rewarded for all my pious trustworthiness by not lagging behind anyone in my advanced old age. The funeral was organized by my sons, who were more important than their fathers: Maximus, who had a say in the gathering of the Gerusia in the city, sweet-natured Antony, Severus; The like-minded children of their deceased mother, Apollonia, who loved her husband with supreme love! O traveller, (these children together) bestowed upon the youth and the parents of good children a gift which is a memory of piety. ”

[Translation: H. S. Öztürk]


Place of Discovery:
 Konya-Sarayönü. Başhöyük Village.

Language: Hellenistic Greek



 3rd century AD

Material: Marble

Konya Archaeological Museum Archive

     Αὐ(ρηλία) Οὐαλεντίλλη κὲ Λεόν-

     τιος κὲ Κ<ά>τμαρος ἀνεσ-

     τήσαμεν τὴν τίτλ-

4   ον ταύτην Εὐγενίῳ

     πρ(εσβυτέρῳ) πολλὰ καμόντος(!)

     ὑπὲρ τῆς ἁγίας τοῦ θε(ο)ῦ

     ἐκλησίας τῶν Καθαρῶ-

8   ν ζῶντες μνήμης χάριν.

      πρῶτον μὲν ὑμνήσω θεὸ-

      ν τὸν πάντει ὁρῶντα, /

      δεύτερον ὑμνήσω πρῶ-

12 τον ἄνγελον, ὃς τισαι τ-

      <ι>σιν· Εὐγενίου θανεόν-

      τος πολλὴ μνήμη ἐπὶ

      γέῃ· / Εὐγένιε, νέος θάν-

16 ες· ἠελίοιό σε γὰρ ἐγίνω-

      σκαν πάντες, / ἀντολίη

      τε δύσις τε με<σ>ινβρία

      τε κὲ ἄρκτος / ὄλβῳ τε πλ-

20 ούτῳ τε εὐγενίῃ τε κ-

      ὲ θάρσι· / πένησιν ζῶν θά-

      ρσος, κώμῃ τ’ ἔξοχος ἁ-

      πάντων· / σὲν Φρυγίη τ’

24 Ἀσίη τε κὲ ἀντολίη τε

      δύσις τ<ε> / – – –

      – – – – – – – – – – – –

“While Aurelia Valentilla, Leontios and Katmaros were alive, we had this inscription erected in memory of the priest Eugenios, who had labored so hard in the name of the holy church of God of the purified. First I will sing a hymn to God who governs all; Then I will sing a hymn to the first angel, Jesus Christ. Many memories of the deceased Eugenios remain on Earth. Eugenios, you died young; With your achievements, your wealth, your nobility and your brave heart, everyone under the sun knew you, in the east and west, in the south and in the north. While you were alive, you always supported the poor and had a distinguished place among the people living in the village. Phrygia and Asia mourn east and west.”

[Translation: H. S. Öztürk]   


Place of Discovery: 

Language: Hellenistic Greek



Date: 340 AD

Material: Marble

Konya Archaeological Museum Archive

     [Μ(ᾶρκος) Ἰού(λιος) Εὐγένιος Κυρίλλου Κέλερος Κουησσέως βουλ(ευτὴς)]

      [στρατευσάμενος ἐν τῇ κατὰ Πισιδίαν ἡγεμονικῇ τάξι]

      [καὶ γήμας θυγατέρα Γαΐου Νεστοριανοῦ συνκλητικοῦ]

4   [Φλ(αβίαν) Ἰουλί(αν) Φλαουιανὴν καὶ μετ’ ἐπιτειμίας στρατευσάμενον]

      [ἐν δὲ τῷ μ̣εταξὺ χρόνῳ κελεύσεως φοιτησάσης ἐπὶ Μαξιμίνου]

      τοὺς Χρ[ε]ιστιανοὺς θύειν καὶ μὴ ἀπα[λ]λάσσεσθαι τῆς

      στρατεί[α]ς̣ πλείστας δὲ ὅσας βασάνου̣[ς] ὑπομείνας

8   ἐπὶ Διογέν̣ους ἡγεμόνος σπουδάσας [τ]ε ἀπαλλαγῆναι 

      τῆς στρατε̣ίας τὴν τῶν Χρειστιανῶν πίστιν φυλάσσων

      χρόνον τ[ε] βραχὺν διατρείψας ἐν τῇ Λαοδικέων πόλι

      καὶ βουλήσ̣ε̣ι τοῦ παντοκράτορος θεοῦ ἐπίσκοπος

12 κατασταθ[εὶ]ς καὶ εἴκοσι πέντε ὅλοις ἔτεσιν τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν

      μετὰ πολ[λ]ῆς ἐπιτειμίας διοι[κ]ήσας καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν ἐκλησίαν

      ἀνοικοδο[μ]ήσας ἀπὸ θεμελίων καὶ σύνπαντα τὸν περὶ αὐτὴν

      κόσμον τ̣ο̣ῦτ’ ἐστιν στοῶν τε καὶ τ[ετ]ραστόων καὶ

16 ζωγραφιῶ̣[ν] καὶ κεντήσεων κὲ ὑδρείου καὶ προπύλου καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς

      λιθοξοϊκοῖς ἔργοις καὶ πᾶ̣[σι ἁπ]αξαπλῶς κατασκευά[σας λειψόμε]νός τε τὸν τῶν                                                                                                                                                                                                           ἀνθρώπων

       βίον ἐποίησα ἐμαυτῷ πέ[λτα τ]ε̣ καὶ σορὸν ἐν ᾗ τὰ προ[γεγραμμένα] ταῦτα ἐποίησα                                                                                                                                                                                                    ἐπιγρ<α>φῖνε

      [εἰς κό]σ̣μον τῆς τε ἐκ[λησίας κ]ὲ τοῦ γένους μου.     

“(I am) Marcus Iulius, son of Kyrillos Celer of Kuessos, member of the boule, served in the officium of the governor of Pisidia, married to Flavia Iulia Flaviane, daughter of Gaius Nestorianus, member of the Roman Senate, served honorably in the military Eugenios; In the time of Maximinus, an order came that Christians should offer sacrifices and not refrain from (this) service; He endured great suffering during the time of Governor Diogenes; There was an attempt to abdicate his duty while protecting Christians. (I) stayed for a short time in the city of the Laodiceans, and by the will of God Almighty I became a bishop, and governed this diocese with great honor for twenty-five years, and destroyed the whole church and all the decorations around it, that is, stoas, tetrastoas, wall-paintings, mosaics. I rebuilt (everything) from its foundations, the fountain and the propylaion (= entrance gate) with all its marble decorations. I, who was waiting to leave life (now), had a plinthos and a sarcophagus built for me. I had the above written on this sarcophagus to serve as an ornament for the church and my family.”        

[Translation: H. S. Öztürk]   


Place of Discovery:
Olympos Ancient City Harbor Entrance, Antalya

Language: Hellenistic Greek



Date: 2nd century AD

Material: Marble

Olympos Excavations Archive

Inscription on Tabula: “I, Eudemos, because I am a captain, I know the way from one Pontos to the other Pontos through the waves, the discovery of Palas (Athena). Kalkhedon, the city of the Bithynians, decided together with all its people (that I should have citizenship?). The fortunate (my homeland [= Olympos] deemed me worthy) (appointed me with) positions, the (Lycian) great (the water acted in the same way; and I was a member) in the council of elders. Destiny… If anyone (without permission buries) another person (in this grave he will pay to the fiscus…) go(ld denaria) as punishment.”
The inscription outside the tabula ansata: “The ship has entered the last port and is anchored, not to leave because there is no help from wind or sunlight anymore; After leaving the light-bearing dawn, Captain Eudemos was buried there, his ship short-lived like the day, like a broken wave…

[Translation: S. Şahin]   

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