Lead Letter from Myrmekion

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Associate Professor
Affiliation: Saint-Petersburg State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg
Occupation: Head of the sector of the Ancient Department
Affiliation: State Hermitage
Address: Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg
Occupation: Associate Professor
Affiliation: University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
Address: France, Paris
Journal nameVestnik drevnei istorii
EditionVolume 78 Issue 4

The article presents a unique find from the 2017 excavation season of the Myrmekion expedition: a well-preserved opistograph lead letter. The document was found in an intact layer dating to the second half of the fourth century BC under the southern wall of a Roman era villa (No. 69a). The letter, written on a rectangular lead sheet, was found open (unrolled). Based on orthographic and palaeographic features, the document can be dated to the last quarter of the fourth century BC; a number of orthographic characteristics show a transition from the Ionian dialect to koine. The text is a private business letter, but it begins very unusually for documents of this sort with the acclamation Θεός˙ Τύχη. Next, after a standard greeting formula and health complaints, the sender lists goods for delivery that the addressee has to prepare. The volume of trade is rather small. As no trace of large textile manufacture in Myrmekion has been found, it is possible to assume that the sender specialized in import/export of small consignments of high-quality ceremonial clothes. Mention of the helmsman and the ship shows that the trade was done by sea. After the words of farewell the second letter begins, where the author offers to recipient of the second letter (scriber’s relative or a business partner) the place on the ship to transport salted fish (τάριχος). The existence of salting manufacture in Myrmekion during the Hellenistic period can now be confirmed not only by a large number of fish bone finds but also by the present text. In the beginning of the last line of the letter we clearly read the name of the sender, as if he began to write the third letter, but there is no place for the body of a whole letter. It is possible to assume that the author just intended to say hello to one more person whose (barbarian?) name is irreparably damaged. The published letter illustrates a scene of active economic life in the city, which had recovered from the destruction which had taken place around the middle of the fourth century BC.

Keywordslead letter, Greek epigraphy of Bosporos, koine, Myrmekion, transit trade, τάριχος
Publication date23.01.2019
Number of characters41073
100 rub.
When subscribing to an article or issue, the user can download PDF, evaluate the publication or contact the author. Need to register.

Number of purchasers: 0, views: 2134

Readers community rating: votes 0

1. Anokhin, V.A. Esche raz ob antichnom pis'me iz Kerkinitidy. Arkheologiya, 1, 1998. S. 136–148.

2. Awianowicz, B. 2011: A new Hellenistic ostracon from Nikonion. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 178, 237–239.

3. Bats, M. 2010: Une lettre sur plombe à Lattes (Hérault). In: T. Janin (ed.), Lattara 21 (Lattes): Premières données sur le Ve s. av. n.è. dans la ville de Lattara. Vol. II. Lattes, 749–756.

4. Boltunova, A.I. Nadpisi Gorgippii (iz nakhodok 1971–1981 gg.). VDI, 1, 1986. S. 43–61.

5. Brujako, I.V., Dana, M., Sekerskaja, N.M. 2018: Lettre sur plombe d’Artemidôros au forgeron Dionysios (Nikonion, estuaire de Tyras). Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 206, 113–120.

6. Butyagin, A.M. Kompleks keramicheskikh gruzil iz usad'by na akropole Mirmekiya. Trudy Gosudarstvennogo Ehrmitazha XLI, 2008. S. 108–123.

7. Butyagin, A.M. 2017: Essay on the economy of Myrmekion in preroman times. In: IIIth International Symposium “The Black Sea in Antiquity and Tekkekoy: an ancient settlement on the Southern Black Sea coast”, Samsun, Turkey, 27–29 October 2017. Samsun, 70–71.

8. Butyagin, A.M., Eremeeva, A.A., Kolosov, V.P. Raboty Mirmekijskoj ehkspeditsii v 2015 godu. Arkheologicheskij sbornik Gosudarstvennogo Ehrmitazha 41, 2017. S. 217–228.

9. Butyagin, A.M., Vakhtina, M.Yu., Vinogradov, Yu.A. 2003: Myrmekion–Porthmeus. Two “small” towns of Ancient Bosporus. In: D.V. Grammenos, E.K. Petropoulos (eds.), Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea. Vol. II. Thessaloniki, 803–840.

10. Butyagin, A.M., Vinogradov, Yu.A. Istoriya i arkheologiya drevnego Mirmekiya. V kn.: Mirmekij v svete novykh arkheologicheskikh issledovanij. SPb., 2006. S. 4–51.

11. Ceccarelli, P. 2013: Ancient Greek Letter Writing: A Cultural History (650 BC – 150 BC). Oxford.

12. Dana, M. 2007: Lettres grecques dialectales Nord-pontiques (sauf IGDOP 23–26). Revue des études anciennes 109, 68–97.

13. Dana, M. 2015: Les lettres grecques sur plomb et sur tesson: pratiques épigraphiques et savoirs de l᾿écriture. In: A. Inglese (ed.), Epigrammata 3. Saper scrivere nel Mediterraneo antico. Esiti di scrittura fra e VI e IV sec. A.C. in ricordo di Mario Luni. Atti del convegno di Roma. Roma, 7–8 Novembre 2014. Roma, 111–133.

14. Dana, M. 2017: La lettre grecque sur plomb d’Agathè (Agde, Hérault): l’édition et commentaire. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 201, 123–138.

15. De Hoz, M.P. 1994: Aspectos formales y tópicos de los contratos privados sicilianos. Emerita 62/2, 325–351

16. Dovatur, A.I. Kratkij ocherk grammatiki bosporskikh nadpisej. B kn.: KBN, 1965. S. 797–831.

17. Eidinow, E., Taylor, C. 2010: Lead-letter days: writing, communication and crisis in the Ancient Greek world. Classical Quarterly 60, 30–62.

18. Gajdukevič, V.F. 1971: Das Bosporanische Reich. Berlin–Amsterdam.

19. Gajdukevich, V.F. Raskopki Mirmekiya v 1935–1938 gg. V kn.: Bosporskie goroda. Chast' I. Itogi arkheologicheskikh issledovanij Tiritaki i Mirmekiya v 1935–1940 gg. (MIA, 25). M.–L., 1952. S. 135–220.

20. Golubtsova, E.S. Rabstvo i zavisimost' v ehllinisticheskoj Maloj Azii. V kn.: T.V. Blavatskaya, E.S. Golubtsova, A.I. Pavlovskaya (red.), Rabstvo v ehllinisticheskikh gosudarstvakh III–I vv. do n.eh. M., 1969. S. 128–199.

21. Jajlenko, V.P. 2001: Über den Umgang mit pontischen Inschriften. Altertum 46, 223–232.

22. Yajlenko, V.P. Magicheskie nadpisi Bospora. Drevnosti Bospora 8, 2005. S. 465–514.

23. Jordan, D.R. 1985: A survey of greek defixiones not included in the special corpora. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 26, 2, 151–197.

24. Lang, M. 1976: The Athenian Agora. Results of Excavations Conducted by The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Vol. XXI. Graffiti and Dipinti. Princeton (New Jersey).

25. Lytle, E. 2018: The economics of saltfish production in the Aegean during the Classical and Hellenistic periods. Journal of Maritime Archaeology 13, 407–418.

26. Monakhov, S.Yu. Grecheskie amfory v Prichernomor'e. Moskva–Saratov, 2003.

27. Nazarchuk, V.I. Novyj fragment nadpisi na svintsovoj plastine iz Ol'vii. V sb.: M.Yu. Vakhtina i dr. (red.), Bosporskij fenomen: naselenie, yazyki, kontakty. Materialy mezhdunarodnoj konferentsii. SPb., 2011. S. 471–474.

28. Oikonomides, A.N. 1988: Graffiti and dipinti Greek inscriptions from the excavations of the Athenian Agora at Kerameikos. Horos 4, 43–64.

29. Oller Guzmán, M. 2014: La carta de Dionisio. Un nuevo testimonio del comercio griego norpóntico. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 192, 169–175.

30. Pharmakowsky, B. 1907: Archäologische Funde im Jahre 1906: Südrussland. Archäologischer Anzeiger, 126–153.

31. Raubitschek, E.A. 1943: Inscriptions. In: G.R. Davidson, D.B. Thomson (eds.), Small Objects from the Pnyx: I. (Hesperia Supplement, VII). Princeton, 1–11.

32. Rusyaeva, A.S. Zemledel'cheskie kul'ty v Ol'vii dogetskogo vremeni. Kiev, 1979.

33. Rusyaeva, A.S. Ehpigraficheskie pamyatniki. V sb.: S.D. Kryzhitskij i dr. (red.), Kul'tura naseleniya antichnoj Ol'vii i ee okrugi v arkhaicheskoe vremya. Kiev, 1987. S. 134–154.

34. Rucyaeva, A.S. Religiya i kul'ty antichnoj Ol'vii. Kiev, 1992.

35. Saprykin, S.Yu. Dva graffiti na cherepitse iz usad'by khory Khersonesa. V: N.A. Gindin i dr. (red.), Antichnaya balkanistika. M., 1987. S. 94–101.

36. Saprykin, S.Yu., Kulikov, A.V. Novye ehpigraficheskie nakhodki v Pantikapee. B sb.: A.V. Podosinov (red.), Drevnejshie gosudarstva Vostochnoj Evropy. 1996–1997 gg. Severnoe Prichernomor'e v antichnosti: voprosy istochnikovedeniya. M., 1999. S. 201–209.

37. Solomonik, Eh.I. Dva antichnykh pis'ma iz Kryma. VDI 3, 1987. S. 114–131.

38. Threatte, L. 1980: The Grammar of Attic Inscriptions. Vol. I. Phonology. Berlin–New York.

39. Tokhtas'ev, S.R. Novye materialy po istorii kojne. V sb.: N.N. Kazanskij (red.), Indoevropejskoe yazykoznanie i klassicheskaya filologiya: Materialy chtenij, posvyaschennykh pamyati professora I.M. Tronskogo X, 2006. S. 294–305.

40. Tokhtasiev, S. R. 2009: De nouvelles données sur l’histoire des formes les plus anciennes de la koinè dans le nord de la mer Noire. In: G. Vottéro (éd.), Le grec du monde colonial antique. I. Le N. et le N.-O. de la Mer Noire. Actes de la Table Ronde de Nancy, 28–29 septembre 2007. (Études Anciennes, 42). Nancy, 32–43.

41. Trippé, N. 2015–2016: Une lettre d’époque classique à Thasos. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 139–140, 43–65.

42. Vinogradov, Yu.G. Drevnejshee grecheskoe pis'mo s ostrova Berezan'. VDI 4, 1971. S. 74–99.

43. Vinogradov, Yu.G. Ol'viopolity v Severo-Zapadnoj Tavrike. B sb.: Drevnee Prichernomor'e: Materialy I Vsesoyuznykh chtenij pamyati professora P.O. Karyshkovskogo. Odessa, 1990. S. 51–64.

44. Vinogradov, Yu.G. Pis'mo s gorgippijskikh nadelov. V sb.: E.M. Alekseeva (ped.), Antichnyj gorod Gorgippiya. M., 1997. S. 543–556.

45. Vinogradov, J.G. 1997b: Die Olbiopoliten in der Nordwest-Tauris. In: J.G. Vinogradov, Pontische Studien: Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte und Epigraphik des Schwarzmeerraumes. Mainz, 484–492.

46. Vinogradov, Ju.G. 1998a: The Greek colonization of the Black Sea Region in the light of the private lead letters. In: G.R. Tsetskhladze (ed.), The Greek Colonization of the Black Sea Area. Stuttgart, 153–178.

47. Vinogradov, Ju.G. 1998b: A letter from Gorgippean rural estates. Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 4, 232–244.

48. Vnukov, S.Yu., Saprykin, S.Yu. 2015: [Greek inscriptions from Kara-Tobe (North-Western Crimea)]. Vestnik drevney istorii [Journal of Ancient History] 2, 98–119.

49. Vnukov, S.Yu., Saprykin, S.Yu. Grecheskie nadpisi iz Kara-Tobe (Severo-Zapadnyj Krym). VDI 2, 98–119.

50. Wilhelm, A. 1984: Der älteste griechische Brief. In: Abhandlungen und Beiträge zur griechischen Inschriftenkunde. Leipzig, 186–197.

51. Yailenko, V.P. 1998: [The person in antique Olbia (essays on the social his-tory of Olbia)]. In: L.P. Marinovich (ed.), Chelovek i obshchestvo v an-tichnom mire [Person and Society in ancient World]. Moscow, 90–129.

52. Yajlenko, V.P. Chelovek v antichnoj Ol'vii (ocherki sotsial'noj is-torii Ol'vii). V sb.: L.P. Marinovich (red.), Chelovek i obschestvo v antichnom mire. M., 1998, S. 90–129.

53. Zavojkina, N.V., Pavlichenko, N.A. Pis'mo na svintsovoj plastine iz Patreya. V sb.: Fanagoriya. T. 4. Rezul'taty arkheologicheskikh issledovanij. M., 2016. S. 230–249.

Система Orphus