004 - Fig3

PHRC004 : Dedication of the Basilistai to Sarapis, Isis and Anubis, Thera - Cyclades (280-220 BC) Dedication

This offertory-box (thesauros) was dedicated in the mid-third century to the divine triad Sarapis, Isis and Anubis by a certain Diokles and the association of the Basilistai. The sanctuary has delivered other contemporaneous traces of Ptolemaic ruler cult, confirming the close link which existed between the spread of Egyptian and royal cults in the Aegean areas subjected to the Ptolemaic empire in the third century. The association was probably composed of members of the Ptolemaic garrison.

Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc004

Photo 1: drawing of the offertory-box, from Hiller von Gaertringen 1899, p. 260
Photo 2: detail of the inscription, drawing, from IG XII 3 443
Photo 3: the sanctuary of the Egyptian deities, with the niche for the offertory-box, from Hiller von Gaertringen 1899, p. 259
Photo 4: photo of the sanctuary (S. Caneva CC-BY-SA 4.0)
Photo 5: photo of the original location of the thesauros (S. Caneva CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Current location

Archaeological Museum of Fira, Santorini
Inv. No. III 443


Object Type: Thesauros
Material: Marble
Height (cover): 18 cm
Width (cover): 65 cm
Depth (cover): c. 90 cm


The text is written in two lines on the front of the thesauros cover, very close to its upper edge.
Elegant letters of the first mid-third century (Σ with diverging horizontal strokes; A with linear bar; Π with shorter right-hand vertical stroke).
Letter height between 1.3 and 1.8 cm.


Date: Between 280 and 220 BC
Justification: Lettering and comparison with other findings from the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods
Provenance: Found in situ by Hiller von Gaertringen. A niche, still visible in the rock, was carved to host the thesauros.


Text constituted from: IG XII 3 443.

Other editions:

See also: Hiller von Gaertringen 1899, p. 260-261, and Hiller von Gaertringen 1904, p. 86; SIRIS 137; Witschel 1997; RICIS 202/1202.

Images: Hiller von Gaertringen 1899, p. 260-261.

Further bibliography: Peristianis 1910, p. 945, n. 34; Fischer-Bovet 2014, p. 287-289; Pfeiffer 2015, p. 62; Wörrle 2015, p. 291-303.

Online record: AGRW 4747; PHI; Trismegistos.


Διοκλῆς καὶ οἱ Βασιλισταὶ τὸν
θησαυρὸν Σαράπι, Ἴσι, Ἀνούβι


Line 1: ΒΑΣΙΑΙΣΤΑΙ on the stone


Diokles and the Basilistai (dedicated) the offertory-box to Sarapis, Isis, Anubis


Diokles e i Basilistai (hanno dedicato) il thesauros a Sarapis, Isis, Anubis


The inscription is carved on the cover of an offertory-box, dedicated by the association of the Basilistai in the rock-cut wall of the sanctuary of Sarapis, Isis and Anubis, in the western part of Thera. Around the same period, the sanctuary hosted a cult of Arsinoe Philadelphos (PHRC013). The link between the promotion of Egyptian and royal cults in Thera confirms a contemporaneous trend in the areas of the Aegean world under Ptolemaic control.

The otherwise unknown Diokles must have been the leader of the association (for the absence of the patronymic or ethnic, see commentary to PHRC001, from Ephesos). Ptolemaic cultic associations named Basilistai or Symbasilistai are also known in Limyra (Lykia; Wörrle 2015), Upper Egypt (see Fischer-Bovet 2014, p. 287-289; Pfeiffer 2015, p. 62), and Cyprus (Lapethos: Peristianis 1910 p. 945, n. 34; I.Paphos 97 = I.Palaepaphos 105). These associations gathered members of Ptolemaic garrisons and provided a useful context of interaction between the local elites and the high ranks of the Ptolemaic army and administration.

Stefano Caneva, on 15-09-2018
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Travocial - Social Travel & Storytelling Practicalities of Hellenistic Ruler Cults
Marie Curie PISCOPIA project no. PISC14IGRU, University of Padova (2015-2017)
FNRS project no. 98368 (2017-2020)
Stefano Caneva
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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme, under Grant Agreement n° 600376 (2015-2017), and from the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), Belgium (2017-2020).
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