013 - Fig1

PHRC013 : Dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos, Thera - Ciclades (270-240 BC) Dedication

The block, which bears a well carved dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos, was found in a context of reuse during the excavations at the temple of Apollo Pythios. It probably originally belonged to the nearby sanctuary of the Egyptian deities, which was frequented by members of the Ptolemaic garrison and hosted the ritual activities of the Basilistai. The stone might have been part of a larger structure (possibly an altar), or perhaps was inserted into one of the numerous rock-cut niches of the sanctuary, to indicate the function of an area specifically dedicated to the cult of the deified queen.

Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc013

Photo 1: detail of the inscription, from IG XII 3 462
Photo2: view of the sanctuary (S. Caneva, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Current location

Archaeological Museum of Fira, Santorini
Inv. No. III 462


Object Type: Block
Complete, with worn edges. The stone was inserted into a larger structure, as shown by the back face which has been left unworked
Height: 18 cm
Width: 23 cm
Depth: 11 cm


The two lines of text are carefully centred on the stone; line 1 begins 6 cm below the upper margin of the stone, while line 2 finishes 8 cm above the lower edge; the first line is written with a large spacing between letters, so as to occupy the same length as the second one.
Good letters of the reign of Ptolemy II, with thickening at the end of long hastae. Σ with diverging strokes, arc-shaped Φ; the straight bar of Α is rendered as an almost imperceptibly curve stroke. Letters in line 2 are higher than those in line 1.
The average letter height of line 1 is 1,2 cm, with only O measuring 0,8 cm; cf. line 2, with letter height between 1,5 and 1 cm.


Date: Between 270 and 240 BC
Justification: Lettering; formulary; chronology of the temple of the Egyptian deities in Thera
Provenance: Found by Hiller von Gaertringen during the excavations at the Byzantine Basilica erected upon the sanctuary of Apollo Pythios, where the stone had been reused. Apollo's sanctuary is located east of the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods, to which it is probable that the block with the dedication to Arsinoe originally belonged.


Text constituted from: IG XII 3 462 (preceded by Strack 1897, p. 223, no. 22a, on the basis of the notes of F. Hiller von Gaertringen)

Other editions:

See also: RICIS 202/1201.

Images: IG XII 3 462.

Further bibliography: Dunand 1973, II, p. 125; Witschel 1997, p. 35-36; Caneva 2014, p. 96 and 114, no. 49; Caneva 2019 (forthcoming).

Online record:




Of Arsinoe Philaldelphos


Di Arsinoe Philadelphos


Based on its proportions, the stone can be better described as a block rather than as a votive plaque (as suggested by Hiller von Gaertringen in IG XII 3, 462). Together with a few other specimens, this inscription stands out among the numerous small altars, blocks and plaques dedicated to Arsinoe Philadelphos (for which see already PHRC002) both for its execution quality and for its layout. While in most specimens the dedication occupies the upper part of the stone, here the two lines of writing are precisely centred (for an assessment of this detail in relation to the possibly different point of observation of the ritual users, see Caneva 2019, forthcoming). If we accept the plausible hypothesis that the dedication originally belonged to the sanctuary of the Egyptian deities (which fits with the careful writing of the inscription), then the block might have found its place either in a larger ritual structure (an altar), or in one of the numerous rock-cut niches of the sanctuary. In the latter case, it would indicate that a certain part of the sanctuary hosted cultic activities specifically addressed to Arsinoe.

As proved by the offertory-box dedicated there by the association of the Basilistai (PHRC004), the sanctuary of the Egyptian deities hosted cults for Ptolemaic rulers in the mid-third century BC. The lettering and formulary of our dedication to Arsinoe suggest a date between the death of the queen (270) and that of Ptolemy II (246), although the cult may have lasted longer in relation to the Ptolemaic garrison in Thera. For another contemporaneous document of the Ptolemaic ruler cult in Thera, see PHRC006.

Stefano Caneva, 20.11.2018
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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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