Monday, June 21, 2010

Adventures in Ancient Roman Epigraphy

This is a study season for Gordion archaeologists, so our conservation goals include the treatment of materials excavated in previous seasons and selected by researchers as particularly worthy of study. One of these objects is a stone altar recovered from the nearby Sakarya river.

A pair of marble Roman altars were spotted peeking out of the river bank in 2007 and were brought back to the Gordion museum for study. One was partially cleaned in previous seasons and has a visible inscription on one face.
The inscription dates the altar to 214 AD, and the reign of the Emperor Caracalla. It identifies a legion of Roman soldiers and praises a victory of the emperor. An article about the recovery and context of the altars was featured in Expedition, a publication of the Penn Museum, and can be found here. 

The second altar was covered by deposits from submersion in the river. These deposits have obscured the legibility of the inscription. One of our major goals for this season is to remove the deposits from the surface, in order to assist archaeologists in the full interpretation of the pieces. 

We'll be working on the cleaning of these pieces in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for updates!


  1. How are the new micro chisels working out? It was hard to know without seeing them in person but it has to be better than the tools we were using the last two seasons! I'm excited to see what you all uncover.

  2. The chisels are great! They've been incredibly useful. We've been alternating between using those and using the scalpels as tiny chisels for small areas. We'll put more updates about the altar soon!