009 - Fig2

PHRC009 : Dedication of a statue to Arsinoe Philadelphos Naias, Chytroi - Cyprus (270-240 BC) Dedication

The text accompanies the dedication of a statue to the deified queen Arsinoe Philadelphos, here associated with a local nymph, by an Alexandrian citizen. The statue was probably erected near the temple of Aphrodite Paphia, NW of the acropolis of Chytroi, and in the surroundings of a spring. The connection with water is a common feature of the cult of Arsinoe in Cyprus. The choice of marble, unavailable on the island, and the high quality of the inscription suggest that the donor was a member of the Ptolemaic elite.

Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc009

Photo 1: photo of the stone, from Palma di Cesnola 1903, Vol. III, Pl. cxlvi, 5
Photo 2: photo of the stone, from the Metropolitan Museum online

Current location

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Arts
Inv. No. 74.51.2378


Object Type: Statue base
This small base is complete, with smooth faces except for the back, which suggests that the statue stood against a wall and was therefore visible from three sides. The anomalous ending of line 1 at the right-hand edge of the base suggests that the block was flanked by another stone, probably bearing another statue (of a nymph?)
Material: grey marble
Height: 23.5 cm
Width: 68.6 cm
Depth: 36.8 cm


Lines 1 and 2 are finely aligned on the left, while line 3 begins more to the right, after a space corresponding to three characters. The end of lines corresponds to the word ending. Line 1 finishes at the edge of the stone, which makes it possible that the stone was part of a larger base.
Finely engraved letters of the first half of the 3rd century, with thickening at the end of hastae. Σ with very divergent strokes.
Letter size varying between 2.5 and 3.8 cm.


Original Place: Skali
Date: 270 - c. 240 BC
Justification: lettering and comparison with other objects pertaining to the cult of Arsinoe Philadelphos.
Provenance: Found in 1875/6 by S. Oikonomidis, a citizen of Kythrea and a collaborator of L. Palma di Cesnola, in the area of the sanctuary of Aphrodite Paphia on the hill called Skali, between modern Kythrea (W) and ancient Chytroi (E). The sanctuary is situated along the path to the Kefalovryso spring, NW of the low town of ancient Chytroi (which was situated nearby the ruined Church of Agios Dimitrianos) and about 450 m W of the Chyhroi acropolis (Katsourkas hill).


Text constituted from: Palma di Cesnola 1903, Vol. III, Pl. cxlvi, 5.

Other editions:

See also: Peristianis 1910, p. 813-815; Myres 1914, p. 547, no. 1900; Mitford 1961, p. 93-151, p. 8, n. 6 ad no. 12; Masson 1971, p. 450-452; Nicolaou 1993, p. 128, cat. A; Anastassiades 1998, p. 134 and 138, no. 11; Caneva 2014, p. 96; Caneva 2015, p. 103.

Images: Palma di Cesnola 1903, Vol. III, Pl. cxlvi, 5; Masson 1971, p. 451, fig. 159; Metropolitan Museum online.

Further bibliography: Masson 1961, p. 258-259; Burr Thompson 1973; Catling 1988, p. 328; Ulbrich 2008, p. 288-289.

Online record: Metropolitan Museum


Ἀρσινόηι Φιλαδέλφωι Ναïάδι
Ἀριστοκλῆς Ἀριστοκλέους


To Arsinoe Philadelphos Naias, Aristokles son of Aristokles, Alexandrian.


Ad Arsinoe Philadelphos Naias, Aristokles figlio di Aristokles, da Alessandria.


The base of the statue dedicated to Arsinoe II was found at the top of the hill of Skali, the ancient acropolis of Chytroi, which in antiquity hosted the sanctuary of Aphrodite (called Paphia and Golgia). The sanctuary was very cursorily excavated by Palma di Cesnola in 1875/6. Nowadays its ruins are almost entirely lost, due to the heavy erosion which affects the area (see Masson 1961, p. 258-259; Catling 1988, p. 328; Ulbrich 2008, p. 288-289). However, the natural environment of the sanctuary can be at least partly reconstructed knowing that ancient Chytroi owned its importance to the presence, near Skali, of the largest spring of all Cyprus (Peristianis 1910, p. 790; Masson 1971, p. 452 n. 3). In addition to explaining the toponym Chytroi (“cooking pots”), the abundance of water justifies the presence of a local cult for a nymph and may have played a role, together with the cult of Aphrodite, in the establishment of cultic honours for Arsinoe Philadelphos.

The statue dedicated by Aristokles perhaps depicted the deified queen with some traits associating her with a nymph. Otherwise, the disposition of the text, which ends up very close to the right edge of the stone, might suggest that Arsinoe’s statue was flanked by another one representing a nymph. The donor, Aristokles son of Aristokles, is not otherwise known, but his Alexandrian origin together with the choice of marble, unavailable in Cyprus, and the quality of the inscription suggest that he was a member of the Ptolemaic elite. The Alexandrian origin of Aristokles might also have something to do with Arsinoe’s uncommon compound theonym Philadelphos Naias. Indeed, the combination of the epiclesis Philadelphos with another divine name is only attested in Alexandria, where the compound denomination Arsinoe Philadelphos Isis is documented by three oenochoae (Burr Thompson 1973, no. 142, 144, 146 = Caneva 2014, nos. 6-8; Caneva 2015, p. 103).

Stefano Caneva, 15.10.2016
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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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