030 -Fig1

PHRC030 : Dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos, Palaipaphos - Cyprus (270-240 BC) Dedication

This plaque, now lost, contained the sole dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos written on marble known from the Paphos area. Despite this material, which was rare and expensive in Cyprus, the inscription is of very poor quality and presents various examples of phonetic writing and spelling mistakes. The plaque was probably attached to a small altar or another cultic object dedicated by a private donor in the sanctuary of Aphrodite Paphia.

Permant ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc030

Photo 1: Photo of the sanctuary of Aphrodite at Kouklia; via Wikimedia Commons

Current location



Object Type: Slab
Unknown. The object must have been a small plaque of a type similar to PHRC016.
Material: Marble


The text, of very poor quality, was written in three lines oddly dividing the epiclesis of the deified queen. It presents various phonetic spellings (epsilon for eta; a second sigma at the end of ΑΡΣΙΝΟΕΣ is written at the beginning of line 2, before the phi of Philadelphou) and the erroneous writing ΦΙΛΑΔΕΑΦΟΥ.
On the letter shape, see Mitford in I.Palaepaphos, p. 8: “The recorded letter-forms, in particular A and Σ, are indicative of the third century”.


Date: Between 270 and 240 BC
Justification: Formulary and lettering
Provenance: Found in 1936 during the restoration of the mosaics W of the temple of Aphrodite and copied by J. du Plat Taylor. Seen by Mitford in 1937 in the house of the chief of the village of Kouklia.


Text constituted from: I.Paphos 4.

Other editions: .

See also: Mitford, I.Palaepaphos 14; Nicolaou 1993, p. 227, cat. i; Anastassiades 1998, p. 138, no. 5; Caneva 2014, no. 24; Caneva 2020.

Images: .

Further bibliography: on the sanctuary of Aphrodite Paphia, see Cayla 2016 (I.Paphos), p. 57-61 and 70-74 for the inscribed objects of Arsinoe Philadelphos; on the presence of Ptolemaic cults and statues, see also Mlyniarczyk 1990, p. 115-120; Papantoniou 2012, p. 341-342 and Papantoniou forthcoming; Fulińska 2012, 61-62; Dumke - Pfeiffer 2015, p. 79-82.

Online record:


Ἀρσινόες -
ς Φιλαδέ -


ΦΙΛΑΔΕ|ΑΦΟΥ on the stone


(S. Caneva)
Of Arsinoe Philadelphos


(S. Caneva)
Di Arsinoe Philadelphos


This plaque was probably attached to an altar or another cultic structure dedicated to Arsinoe Philaldephos in the sanctuary of Aphrodite Paphia. The sanctuary and neighbouring harbour of Palaepaphos have been considered as a crucial hub for the ‘ptolemaisation’ of Hellenistic Cyprus (see Dumke – Pfeiffer 2015) and the high number of dedications to Arsinoe Philadelphos from the Paphos area - the highest concentration in the whole Mediterranean (see PHRC014 and PHRC031-035) – seems to confirm this thesis, even though the mutual influences between Paphos and Alexandria in the development of the cult of Arsinoe remain difficult to assess in the detail (see Mlyniarczyk 1990, p. 115-120; Papantoniou 2012, p. 341-342; Fulińska 2012, 61-62). Equally debated is whether Ptolemy II had a city called Arsinoe founded along the processional way between Nea Paphos and Palaipaphos, as has usually been assumed on the ground of a passage of Strabo (14.6.3; Müller 2006, no. 12), or whether this never-identified settlement should be considered as a duplication of Marion/Arsinoe at the north-western corner of Cyprus (Bekker-Nilsen 1999; Bounegru 2002, no. 5). In the first case, the presence of a new foundation named after the deified queen might have concurred with the association of her cult with that of Aphrodite at Palaipaphos to create a micro-regional network of religious and political bonds between the Ptolemaic power and Cypriot traditions. In the second case, the sanctuary would have sufficed to attract the manifestations of local adherence to the Ptolemaic ruler cult, constructing a dynamic interaction with Nea Paphos as the adminitrative center. The rich dossier of Palaipaphos together with the total absence of archaeological evidence of a new settlement between the old and new Paphos support the second hypothesis (cf. Papantoniou forthcoming).

Our plaque is the only marble object bearing a dedication to Arsinoe from the Paphos area. Since marble was not quarried on ancient Cyprus and had to be imported to the island (Gjerstad et al. 1937, I., p. 520), its use was more expensive and much less frequent than that of local stones (limestone and sandstone). For this reason, marble dedications concerning Ptolemaic ruler cults are extremely rare in Cyprus (see also PHRC009 from Chytroi; PHRC040 and PHRC041 from Soloi-Mersinaki). Contrary to what one could expect, however, their quality may significantly vary from case to case. While the dedication to Arsinoe Philadelphos and a local Nymph at Chytroi shows a high standard of execution and probably stems from the initiative of a member of the Alexandrian elite in Cyprus, the other specimens are characterized by smaller dimensions and a low quality of execution.

This plaque certainly belongs to this set of humble private dedications, as shown by the poor level of literacy of the stone cutter (for the rest, the text is the same as PHRC031). Given the small dimensions of the support, we may assume that a little fragment of marble was cheap enough to allow the donor to increase the social prestige of his dedication thanks to the symbolic value of this material. Similar cases are also documented outside Cyprus: see also the dedications to Arsinoe Philadelphos in PHRC038-039.

Stefano Caneva, on 02.03.2019

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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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