001 - Fig1

PHRC001 : Dedication to King Ptolemy IV and Queen Arsinoe III, Sarapis and Isis, Ephesos - Ionia (217-209 BC) Dedication

The inscription belongs to a marble cylindrical altar dedicated to King Ptolemy IV, Queen Arsinoe III, Sarapis and Isis by the Ptolemaic garrison, which occupied the acropolis at Ephesos. The altar was probably part of a sanctuary of the Egyptian gods established by the garrison. The strong link between the royal and the divine couple is consistent with the documentation about Ptolemy IV after his victory against Antiochos III at Raphia (217 BC). The fragments of the altar were subsequently reused in a house of the Roman period (Hanghaus 2), located N of the acropolis.

Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc001

Photos 1-2: squeezes of the two fragments, from Bricault 2014, fig. 1-2
Photo 3: plan of ancient Ephesos

Current location

Ephesos, excavation storehouse
Unknown Inv. No.


Object Type: Altar
Three fragments of an altar. The missing part contained the right-hand side of lines 4-11.
Material: White marble
Height (fragments a+b): 47,5 cm
Width: c. 22,5 cm
Depth: c. 10 cm


Carefully carved letters of regular size; letter shape of the late third century, with a slight thickening at the end of the long bars.


Original Place: Ephesos, Acropolis
Date: Between 217 and 209 BC
Justification: Formulary
Provenance: Reused in the Hanghaus 2, a private house of the Imperial period located N of the acropolis (Bülbül Dağ). Discovered during the Austrian excavations in the 1970s. The stone had probably fallen down the slope of the acropolis, sometime after the structures (including the sanctuary) used by the Ptolemaic garrison were abandoned (Bricault 2014, p. 10).


Text constituted from: Bricault 2014, p. 7-10.

Other editions: fragments a (I.Ephesos II 199) and b (SEG XXXIII 942) are treated as separate inscriptions in Calapà 2010 and Meadows 2013.

See also: Krinzinger 2002.

Images: Bricault 2014, fig. 1-2.

Further bibliography: Bricault 1999; Iossif 2005; Landvatter 2012; Fassa 2015; Caneva 2016c.

Online record:


Βασιλεῖ Πτολεμαίω[ι]
καὶ βασιλίσσηι Ἀρσι -
[ν]όηι καὶ Σαράπιδι καὶ
Εἴσιδ[ι 11...........]
5 καὶ οἱ ἡγε[μόνες καὶ]
οἱ στρατι[ῶται οἱ τε] -
[τ]αγμένοι [ἐπὶ τῆι]
[ἄκ]ραι τὸν [βωμὸν]
[ἀ]νέθηκαν [ἐπὶ ταῖς]
10 συντελοῦ[μέναις]
αὐτοῖς θυ[σίαις].


For an overview of previous (and now obsolete) reconstructing hypotheses, see Bricault 2014, p. 8.


(S. Caneva)
To King Ptolemy (IV) and Queen Arsinoe (III), and to Sarapis and Isis. [...] and the commanders and the soldiers serving on the acropolis, have dedicated the altar for the sacrifices celebrated to them.


(S. Caneva)
Al re Tolemeo (IV) e alla regina Arsinoe (III), e Sarapis e Isis. [...] e i comandanti e i soldati di stanza sull'acropoli, hanno dedicato l'altare per i sacrifici celebrati in loro onore.


This marble cylindrical altar was dedicated by the garrison at Ephesos to the royal couple, together with the divine couple of Sarapis and Isis. The lacuna at the end of line 4 contained the name of the garrison commander, which was about 10/12 letters long, an average length for Greek personal names. Therefore no place remains for the indication of the person's patronym or ethnic. Cultic objects dedicated within a garrison (or other closed social groups) often do not provide more information about the identity of the main donor, since this was known by everybody (cf. PHRC004, from Thera).

The double dative, which establishes a ritual correspondence between the royal recipients and the gods, is commonly attested in the 3rd century, whereas it tends to decrease during the second half of the Hellenistic period (Iossif 2005; Caneva 2016; specifically on dedications for Sarapis and Isis, Fassa 2015). A strong link between Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III on the on hand, and Sarapis and Isis on the other, is a common element of Ptolemaic ideology after Ptolemy IV's victory at Raphia against Antiochos III (217 BC), as exemplified by the iconograpy of new silver tetradrachms depicting the jugate portraits of Sarapis and Isis (Bricault 1999; Landvatter 2012). The formula used here finds a parallel, among others, in a bilingual foundation plaque for a Serapeum dedicated by the ruling couple along the main East-West road of Alexandria ( SB I 2136). Unlike this Alexandrian document and other similar ones, the Ephesos dedication shows an unusual sequence of recipients, with the royal couple occupying the first place. This probably depends on the choice of the donors rather than on a local habit (Bricault 2014).

The reuse of the altar’s fragments in a house of the Roman period (Hanghaus 2), erected at the foot of the acropolis, points to a possible location of the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods frequented by the garrison on the N side of Bülbül Dağ. As on Thera, the deities honoured in this sanctuary included Anoubis, together with other temple-sharing deities (cf. RICIS 304/0602, c. 217-197 BC, with commentary in Bricault 2014, p. 10). The sanctuary was abandoned sometime after the Ptolemaic garrison left Ephesos, since no continuity can be ascertained between this cult place and the later sanctuary in use during the Roman period.

Stefano Caneva, on 16-09-2017
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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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