The inscriptions from the ancient city of Kibyra (south-west Asia Minor) reveal a high degree of local colour. With the dominance of Hellenistic rulers and later of the Roman empire, the citizens of Kibyra indeed adopted Greek and Latin forms in architecture and epigraphy, yet they employed these in order to emphasize their cultural independence in a performative and targeted fashion.

Subject and Goals of the Projects

The subject of the project are the forms of expression of local identity, such as can be studied in the epigraphic tradition from the ancient city of Kibyra in south-west Asia Minor. The emphasis thereby lies on inscriptions from the Roman imperial period. The starting point is the observation that, by applying overarching theoretical concepts such as »Hellenisation«, »Romanisation« or »Acculturation«, one runs the risk of losing sight of the local identity of processes of cultural convergence. Without wanting to deny the heuristic value of such terminology, the goal is to reveal how the citizens of Kibyra appropriated ›classic‹ Greek and Roman epigraphic habits, not so much to present themselves as ›Greeks‹ or ›Romans‹, but far rather in order to emphasize in a performative manner their cultural, linguistic and onomastic individuality.

Theoretical Framework

The project takes up two different currents in recent research. Within classical studies, discussions concerning »localism« and »local knowledge« in classical Greece are encountered, primarily in research in the English-speaking areas. From the field of urban sociology, there is an attempt to better understand the »inherent logic« of cities. Whereas perceptions of a unified, monumental Greco-Roman urban culture can still be observed within the field of classical studies, the concept of »inherent logic« can sharpen the attentiveness of the historian as to how local bodies of knowledge and local patterns of behaviour influence the functioning of each city in a distinctive fashion.

Source Material

The department of classical studies of the OeAI follows in the tradition of the »Asia Minor Commission« that, beginning in the late 19th century, carried out extensive research journeys in Asia Minor and documented numerous inscriptions. In addition to archives that have resulted from these long-standing studies and numerous already-published inscriptions of the Roman period from the city of Kibyra and its surroundings, a corpus of slightly more than one hundred newly discovered inscriptions flows into the project; these have been documented by the project leader and the participants in the excavations at Kibyra between 2011 and 2017. The new inscriptions from Kibyra are distinguished by a high degree of unconventional local colour and cultural individuality.

Methods for the interpretation of sources

The special characteristics of local forms of expression in the epigraphic record of imperial-period Kibyra will be accessed via a broad spectrum of various methods. In addition to the established methods of Greek epigraphy, prosopography and onomastics, forms of analysis inspired by literary criticism will equally be employed, as well as the analysis of the spatial arrangement of inscribed monuments. Such holistic interpretive approaches prove to be particularly fruitful in tomb enclosures within which members of a family, from two or three generations, were buried. Certain epitaphs go beyond the conventions of the genre, with allusions to the landscape of Kibyra; according to the intent of the statement, one and the same person appears sometimes with a Greek, sometimes with a Roman, and sometimes with a local name.


Principal Investigator




FWF Lise-Meitner-Projekt M 2958-G