FUNERARY LAW AND THE PROTECTION OF GRAVES IN GRECO-ROMAN ASIA MINOR: LYCIA AND PISIDIA


In spring 2014, the second project on funerary law and penalty clauses in hellenistic and imperial times has been launched; the geographical focus changed to the southern part of Asia Minor and the four regions of Lycia, Pamphylia, the Cibyratis and Pisidia. It is from these regions that we have not only the most numerous and detailed texts, but also the earliest inscriptions concerning tomb protection. In these regions Greek texts date from as as early as the end of the 4th cent. BCE, while in western Asia Minor protection clauses for graves are not usually found any earlier than the 1st cent. BCE. Epichoric Lycian texts predate the Greek inscriptions and date from the 5th and 4th cent. BCE. About 25% of these inscriptions contain prohibitions as well as sanctions and curses threatening anybody who dared to act against the orders of the grave-owner. Although the sanctions found in these texts themselves are quite different, the point of departure is the same for both categories: The owner of a grave wanted to prevent anybody else from using the tomb against his wishes. For the transitional period between the regulations in Lycian only and the Greek inscriptions, the bilingual texts will be analyzed, as they are likely to provide information about the traditions being behind the forms of protection. It seems quite clear that the origin of the Greek clauses inserted for the protection of a grave in funerary inscriptions is to be found in the Lycian texts and spread from there to western Asia Minor and other regions of the Roman Empire. One aim of this project is to shed light on the emergence of this legal institution in Pre-Roman times and to show the development of the prohibitions and sanctions.

Approximately 1,500 inscriptions will form the basis of our examination, thus the number of legally relevant texts is significantly larger than in the previous project. At several sites in Lycia and Pisidia more than 50% of the epitaphs contain information of interest to legal historians whereas in western Asia Minor only in very few cases is the proportion higher than 20%. Although the diagram below only provides approximate numbers for the new survey area, it shows clearly that grave protection through prohibitions and sanctions is far more frequent in the south than in the north of Asia Minor.

We will be able to provide a more detailed and conclusive quantification of the material in the course of the project, taking the state of preservation of the stone and the transmission of the text into account as well. Moreover we have found that the texts from the new survey area frequently give more detailed information relating to legal questions than do the inscriptions analyzed so far. Last but by no means least the archaeological situation is an important element of our study: the necropoleis tend to be much better preserved, the inscriptions frequently are still in situ on rock-cut tombs or sarcophagi and as a result of that, close analyses of their original context will be possible.

In the same way as in the previous project all the relevant inscriptions will first be analyzed city by city according to the different regions. In this respect the fact that the survey area is spread over three different Roman provinces (Asia, Lycia et Pamphylia, Galatia) has to be kept in mind. Secondly a synopsis of the legally relevant elements will be presented.

The analysis of the grave inscriptions


All texts containing information on the following two aspects are to be analyzed: on the one hand the acquisition of graves and the entitlement to interment on the site, on the other hand the protection of tombs by the establishment of prohibitions and sanctions. Using the “Repertorium” of Greek legal inscriptions (G.Thür – D. Behrend) as a model I have devised a system of categories and clauses which will provide the basis for further analyses and comparisons for the former project. My original pattern was adapted to the necessities of our epigraphical evidence during the course of our work, introducing new categories as well as excluding a few.

Every inscription is being parsed in the following categories:

* Details on the grave owners and their families

* (A) Details on the establishment of the grave: acquisition, construction of the tomb, entitlement to the interment, (and in addition) registration in the local archive, dates referred to within the text, description of the monument, testaments and charitable foundations.

* (B) Prohibitions

* (C) Payment of monetary penalties and the recipients of the fines

* (D) The denunciation of offenders and the collection of fines; additional prosecution of offences

* (E) The curses

The interpretation of the texts will firstly be conducted polis by polis; by integrating the archeological context we will then gain intermediate results for each region that will then contribute to a broader and more comprehensive picture.