014 - Fig1

PHRC014 : Dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos, Nea Paphos - Cyprus (270-240 BC) Dedication

This dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos is inscribed on a small cylindrical altar, a common support for the cults of the Ptolemies in Cyprus. Among the inscribed dedications to Arsinoe found in the Paphos area, this is the sole specimen having been discovered in the new city, during the excavations of the Roman Orpheus House. The altar bears the same dedication on both sides. The text on the first side has remained unfinished: it was abandoned probably due to a mistake of the carver in the spacing between letters; the same dedication was then fully inscribed on the opposite side of the shaft.

Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc014

Photo 1: view of the site of the Orpheus House, Maloutena (S. Caneva, CC-BY-SA 0.4)
Photeo 2: plan of the archaeological site of Paphos, from the Paphos Agora Project (the Orpheus House lies W of the Theseus House)

Current location

Nea Paphos, Paphos District Archaeologial Museum
No inventory number


Heavily damaged, especially the lower part of the shaft.
Total height: Height (total): 21; (upper moulding): 3.5; (shaft): 14 cm
Top_diameter width: Diameter (top): 19; (shaft): 16 cm


The carver started writing on what is now the back of the cylinder, then abandoned his work and wrote the full text on the other side. As on most small objects pertaining to the cult of Arsione Philadelphos, the inscription occupies the upper half of the field. The first line starts 1.5 cm below the relief of the upper cornice.
The letters are quite roughly cut. The letter form of the reign of Ptolemy II: arc-shaped Φ; Σ with diverging horizontal strokes.
Letter height between 1.4 and 0.7.


Original Place: Nea Paphos
Date: 270-240 BC
Justification: lettering and comparison with other small inscribed objects pertaining to the cult of Arsinoe Philadelphos.
Provenance: Found at Nea Paphos, area of Maloutena, Orpheus House


Text constituted from: autopsy, 24.10.2016.

Other editions: Anastassiades 1998, p. 138 no. 4; I.Paphos 9 only publishes the text of the full dedication, overlooking the backside.

See also:

Images: Anastassiades 1998.

Further bibliography: Mlyniarczyk 1990, p. 115-120, 184-193; Bricault Liège 2006, p. 28-29; Barbantani 2008, p. 103-134; Fulińska 2012, p. 47-73; Caneva 2014a, p. 85-116; Aupert 1980, p. 257; Thély 2016, p. 467, 473.

Online record:







Back: ΣΙΝ Anastassiades 1998, p. 138 no. 4


Of Arsinoe Philadelphos


Di Arsinoe Philadelphos


Small cylindrical altars are relatively common cultic objects of the Ptolemaic ruler cult. In Cyprus, two similar but bigger specimens have been discovered in the city of Amathous (Thély 2016, p. 467, 473), sharing with the small altar of Nea Paphos the presence of a quadrangular hole in the middle of the altar top and basis. These holes were used to attach the unfinished stone to a lathe in order to execute the decoration of the cornices (Aupert 1980, p. 257). Part of the decoration is still visible on the specimen from Nea Paphos, despite its fragmentary state of preservation.

Of the seven dedications to Arsinoe Philadelphos from the Paphos area (I.Paphos 4-10; Caneva 2014a, p. 111-112), this is the sole specimen discovered in the new city, during the excavations of the Roman Orpheus House. Our knowledge of the topography of Nea Paphos in the early Hellenistic period (on the area of Maloutena, see Mlyniarczyk 1990, p. 184-193) is too generic to allow for any hypothesis as regards the question of whether the altar was used in a domestic or public space.

The unfinished inscription on the back of the cylinder was carved first and then abandoned, probably because of the uneven spacing between the letters (see in particular the large distance between P and Σ). This detail plausibly points to the work of an unexperienced carver (for a similar case, see PHRC016, from Paros).

Stefano Caneva, 03.11.2018
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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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