040 - Fig1

PHRC040 : Dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos, Soloi-Mersinaki - Cyprus (270-240 BC) Dedication

This marble slab contains a roughly written dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos. Together with another dedication to Ptolemy V, this object testifies to the practice of Ptolemaic ruler cults in the sanctuary of Mersinaki, situated along the coast between the city of Soloi and the promontory of Vouni and possibly dedicated to Apollo and Athena.

Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc040

Photo 1: Photo of the slab, from Gjerstad et al. 1937, II, pl. CXLVIII
Photo 2: View of the Morphou Bay from Vouni, with Mersinaki in the foreground and Soloi in the background; photo S.G. Caneva

Current location

Stockholm, Medelhavsmuseet


Object Type: Slab
Two joining fragments of a plaque, broken on all sides except for the upper edge, which is decorated with a small cornice.
Material: Marble
Height: 32 cm
Width: 22,7 cm
Depth: 5,3 cm


The text is written in two lines starting near the upper margin of the stone.
The text is irregularly written (see for instance the varying form of A, with horizontal or slightly curvy crossbar). Letter shape of the reign of Ptolemy II: small O, Σ with diverging bars, asymmetrical Ν.


Date: Between 270 and 240 BC
Justification: Formulary and lettering
Provenance: Found in one of the votive deposits at the sanctuary of Soloi-Mersinaki.


Text constituted from: Gjerstad et al. 1937, I, p. 360, no. 740, and p. 621, no. 2.

Other editions:

See also: Mitford 1938, p. 30, cat. i; Nicolaou 1993, p. 227, cat. n; Anastassiades 1998, p. 139, no. 17; Caneva 2014, no. 31.

Images: Gjerstad et al. 1937, II, pl. CXLVIII.

Further bibliography: on the sanctuary at Mersinaki, see Gjerstad et al. 1937; Papantoniou 2012, p. 111-112, 210.

Online record:




(S. Caneva)
Of Arsinoe Philadelphos


(S. Caneva)
Di Arsinoe Philadelphos


In the 3rd century, this plaque was probably attached to an altar or to another structure dedicated to the cult of Arsinoe Philadelphos in the sanctuary at Soloi-Mersinaki. This sanctuary lies along the shore of the Morphou Bay between the site of the ancient city of Soloi on the east and the promontory of Vouni on the west. The sanctuary at Mersinaki was in use between the archaic period (when it appears to be closely related to Athena’s sanctuary at Vouni) and the 2nd century BC, when archaeological data point to its abandonment (for the chronology, see Gjerstad et al. 1937, p. 393-398; on the relationship with Vouni, Papantoniou 2012, p. 111-112, 210). The interest of this sanctuary is related to its votive deposits which have preserved more than thousand pieces of cultic material, including a large number of stone and terracotta statues. On the basis of these findings, the sanctuary has been tentatively associated with the cult of Apollo and Athena.

Six inscribed dedications have been found in the votive deposits at Mersinaki, of which two deal with the Ptolemaic ruler cult (see also PHRC041, for Ptolemy V). An interesting detail is that the two dedications to Ptolemaic sovereigns are the sole ones written on marble. Moreover, apart from the two dedications of Ptolemaic ruler cult, only two other marble pieces have been discovered in the Mersinaki pits: a plaque with a depiction of Athena and one decorated with a palm tree motif. This may point to the particular prestige of ruler cult at Mersinaki. Given the lack of marble quarries on the island, imported marble constitutes a rarity among Cypriot dedicatory materials (Gjerstad et al. 1937, I., p. 520). The growing degree of availability of this material in the Hellenistic period may be interpreted as a sign of the ‘ptolemaisation’ of the island (see PHRC009 for a high-standard dedication to Arsinoe by an Alexandrian citizen in Chytroi). In this respect, the Mersinaki dedication to Arsinoe can be compared with other dedications on marble slabs from the Ptolemaic kingdom: see e.g. I.Ptol.Alex. 37, a marble plaque of similar measures (20 x 15,5 x 5,8 cm), sharing with the Mersinaki specimen the decoration with a cornice at the upper egde, and containing the dedication of a priest probably to Ptolemy II.

However, the Mersinaki specimen differs from the average quality of dedications on marble because of the less careful execution of its inscription. The humble quality of this dedication and of that for Ptolemy V warns against establishing too direct a link between the use of marble and the accomplishment of prestigious dedications on Cyprus. In general, it is possible that the closer connection the Ptolemies established between Cyprus and the Hellenistic world increased the availability of marble on the island, thus making this prestigious material more easily accessible also in small quantities (see PHRC030 for a similar case).

Stefano Caneva, on 04.03.2019
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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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