The FWF-Project P 29261 „Archaeological contexts of inscriptions in the private sphere“ was approved by the decision board of the FWF on May 9th 2016. The 3-year project will be accomplished by the project-head Elisabeth Rathmayr and her colleague Veronika Scheibelreiter-Gail. It started on 1st October 2016.

The project addresses archaeological contexts of all kinds of inscriptions and their bearers used in private dwellings. The houses which will be investigated are mainly located in mainland Greece and the Greek islands (modern day Greece) and in the southern Balkans. In a follow-up project inscriptions from ancient houses in Turkey and Cyprus will be investigated.

The aim is to examine where, when, how and why inscriptions occurred in everyday life. Among other aspects we will study the spatial distribution, the exact placements, the meaning of inscriptions on moveable objects, the connection between inscriptions and the objects they were related to, the role of inscriptions within household religion, and the targeted audience. It also will be studied if changes concerning the epigraphic habit of the examined periods exist. By this diachronic examination it will be possible to determine socio-cultural, religious and other alterations of households. As to put the results in a sharper relief, the results of the house contexts will be matched with predecessors and contemporary inscriptions of the public and sacred spheres as well as with contemporary contexts in dwellings of the Roman West.

The study will be based on the examination of inscriptions in their spatial and temporal archaeological contexts. Therefore it offers the possibility to achieve new results concerning the history of living. The results will contribute to a differentiation of functions and uses of rooms, and of particular areas, and they also will shed a light on the role of all the people who frequented the houses. Thus, the project will be vital concerning the social structure of houses, whereby the diachronically approach will further our knowledge about socio-cultural conditions and changes of households.

The results of the project shall be published in a monograph comprising a catalogue, a comprehensive analysis and plates. The latter includes plans on which the findings spots of the inscriptions and their bearers shall be marked as well as 3D-models of selected contexts of inscriptions for a better visualization.


Hans Taeuber, University of Vienna,
Department of Ancient History,
Papyrology and Epigraphy: work on
graffiti of the private dwellings of Ephesos

Working group History of Ancient Law and Papyrology
at the Department Documenta Antiqua,

Working group Epigraphy
at the Department Documenta Antiqua,

Working group Early Christianity
at the Department Monumenta Antiqua,
project "The Beginning of Domestic
Religion in Ancient Christianity"