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Inscription of the Phoderago (KL 1839)


In the Lapidary of the Kerch Museum is present a funerary stelae, (inv. No KL 1839) made from local limestone, founded by certain Phoderago. It is decorate with a relief and five lines of Greek inscription. Object is 86,8 cm high, 45,5 cm wide and 14,5 cm thick, and was bought by the Kerch Museum on 1991-06-22 from private collector for 100 roubles. According to informations, which I have obtained from professor E. Jakovenko, former (1992) director of the Kerch Museum and Mrs. T. Matkovskaia[1], head of the Kerch Lapidary, stelae was found about 500 m north from the railway station, in the northern area of the Kerch peninsula.

The finial is decorating with rosettes and tympanum with a big rosette in the middle. Below we can see representation of a warrior posed with an extended sword and shield. Beside stay another warrior without shield and with sword putted in the scabbard, with his right hand stretched over the head of the third person – a child. The field of the relief is closed on both sides by pillars. Below the relief is placed the field of the inscription with the Greek text divided in five lines. Shapes of the letters are quadratic (sigma, eta). Letters are between 5-2,6 cm high and interval between lines is about 1 cm.

Preservation of the stelae is generally bad.

Thanks to palaeographic[2] and formal analogies with another reliefs[3] we may date this stelae for I-II cent. AD.[4]

Text of the inscription goes as follows:

1.                    Fo?dhra?g?o?

2.                    k?a?i\ ui(o/j M?a?s?t?-

3.                    o?u=j kai\ quga/[t]-

4.                    hr T?rufe/ra

5.                    xai/rein

Translation: Phoderago and son Mastous, and daughter Tryphera, farewell.

            In the Kerch lapidary I found several analogies with the scene described above. First they are representations of the warrior with child[5] and second with similar gesture[6]. Especially interesting are two examples with the reliefs on which we may see a warrior with women and child[7]. The last examples in high degree reminds scene on our object. The figure of simple warrior is very close to our on another stelae from Kerch[8] and similar rosettes I found on another two examples[9]. There is not possible to confirm, that our relief was manufactured in the same workshop together with anyone from numbered above stelae, but formal similarity empowers us to state style resemblance between tombstone of Phoderago (et consortes) and some of monuments stored in the Kerch lapidary. It is very helpful in the case of dating of the Phoderago epitaph.

Phoderago is nomen hapax and I did not find any another mention about this name or substantive. There is serious possibility, that this name is barbarian[10], especially, that we know some number of barbarian names in Greek language with suffix –ago[11].

In contrary to Phoderago, Mastous is Greek name attested mainly in the northern Black Sea area (Panticapaeum, Tanais, Olbia, Gorgippia)[12]. In the case of Olbia we know, that both men were Bosporanoi\ - it means they came from the Bosporan Kingdom. The name Mastous is not especially popular and appears in the inscriptions dated I - III century AD (some are dated simply “Roman times”). It may be additional argument for the above-established date of our stelae.

Tryphera is very well attested Greek name, extremely popular in the space of the Greek culture.

The Phoderago stelae is almost typical for other Bosporan tombstones as well in the shape, as in the relief details and the text of the inscription - almost, but not fully. First we meet in the text earlier non-attested mysterious name Phoderago, which is probably Graecised form of a certain barbaric name. Secondly we find in the text another example of the typical, but not popular Bosporan name Mastous. Together with the representation on the relief it permits us to suppose, that Phoderago was maybe one of the barbarians serving in the Bosporan army.

Alfred Twardecki; National Museum in Warsaw

[1] I would like to express my deep gratitude to both ladies for help in my investigations.

[2] A.I. Boltunova, T.N. Knipovich, Ocherk istorii grecheskovo lapidarnogo pis'ma na Bosporie; Numizmatika i Epigrafika, v. II, Moskva (1960), pp. 3-31; ibid. Grecheskije nadpisy iz sluchajnych nahodok na gore Mitridat; Materijaly i Issledowanija po Archeologii SSSR, 103, Moskva (1962), pp. 206-209; ibid. Nadpisi Bospora, VDI 1959, 4, pp. 92-110; ibid. Nieizdannyje nagrobija iz Kerchi i okrestnostiej, VDI (1965), 2, pp. 95-101.

[3] Bosporskije nadgrobnyje reliefy V w. do n.e. – III w. n. e., Leningrad (1990) [catalogue of the exhibition with typology of the funerary relief]; G. von Kieseritzky, C. Watzinger, Griechische Grabreliefs aus Südrussland, (K)DAI, Berlin (1909), Taf, XXXII, 449. w. 1, 13 – II 1200 (warrior with sword); Antichnaja skul'ptura Hersonesa, Kiev (1976) for ex. Nos 101, 107, 110, 129-133. Comp. also mentioned below objects from Kerch lapidary.

[4] I would like to thank to professor E. I. Solomonik for the help in dating of this inscription.

[5] KL 211- K. 3020. In this case the rosettes are similar with our object.

[6] KL 411 – warrior stretching hand over a woman. Rosettes and additionally dimensions (80 cm high, 41 cm wide and 9,5 cm thick) are also alike.

[7] KL 413 – KBN 516, dated for I cent. BC and KL 415 – KW 371 f. XXV.

[8] KL 190 – K. 3027.

[9] KL 167 – KBN 333 and KL 204 – KBN 316.

[10] Unfortunately I couldn’t find any similar going barbaric name.

[11] For example Qrai=c Peiqago/ (IG I3, fasc. 2, No 1032 IX f 382 – 383 - Attica). Comp. G.G. Meteescu, Nomitraci nei territorio scito-sarmatico, Ephemeris Dacoromana (1924), v. 2, pp. 229 ff;

[12] Mastous for ex.: CIRB, 276; 962; 1093; 1176; 1179, v. 55; 1259, v. 22; 1266, v. 4; 1282, v. 33. Comp. L. Zgusta, Die Personennamen griechischer Städte der nördlichen Schwarzmeerküste: 
die ethnischen Verhältnisse, namentlich das Verhältnis der Skythen und Sarmaten, im Lichte der Namenforschung; Praha (1955), p. 115 § 146. 

Last modified: 22-11-2006

Designed by Alfred Twardecki

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