Cyril Mango

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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Epigraphy is a discipline that deals with all kinds of inscriptions other than those in manuscripts. Greece and other ancient cities produced a large number of inscriptions that have revolutionized our knowledge of antiquity. The number of preserved inscriptions declined considerably in Late Antiquity, while the traditional categories, except for the agonistic, survived until about 600 CE. Christianity had little impact on what is often called the "epigraphic habit". Religious dedications and invocations were now addressed to the new God, along with his angels and saints. Inscribed tombstones for quite ordinary people (for example, traders, bakers, barbers, superintendents of stores, soldiers) often specified their place of origin and occupation. A remarkable series of more than 500 epitaphs referring to some 115 different professions can be found at Korykos (Cilicia). Since c. 610 CE, until the end of the Byzantine Empire and beyond, epigraphs no longer commemorated ordinary people (except occasionally in graffiti), who were instead buried in unmarked graves. This development signaled the decline of the epigraphic habit.

Keywords: epigraphy; inscriptions; epigraphic habit; graves; epitaphs; tombstones; Korykos; Byzantine Empire; epigraphs

Article.  2065 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Epigraphy

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