Collections of the Epigraphical Museum

Collections of the Epigraphical Museum

The «Library of Stones» houses a significant collection of Hellenic inscriptions detailing official records, including lists of war dead, tribute lists showing annual payments by Athens’ allies, and the decree ordering the evacuation of Athens before the 480 BC Persian invasion.

There are also some Latin as well as a few Byzantine and Post-Byzantine engravings and about 40 Hebrew funerary inscriptions of the 16th -17th Centuries from Mystra (Laconia). Close to 98% of the pieces are carved on stone or marble, but also on display are stamped amphora handles and inscribed clay roof-tiles. Chronologically, the inscriptions range from the 8th Century B.C. to the Late Roman period, with the exception of a few examples which date to the Byzantine and Modern era.


Early Attic Inscriptions (Room 11)

Here, the exhibits have been grouped according to the shape and size of the stone blocks, and the type and contents of the inscription.

- the earliest stone inscription from the Acropolis
- examples of early Greek writing (from right to left and boustrofedon - alternating right to left and left to right, like an ox plowing a field)
- funerary stelai
- lists of men killed in battle
- epigrams from public funerary monuments
- inscribed bases of Archaic statues from the Acropolis, many of which preserve the names of the sculptors, such as Onatas or Archermos

Inscriptions Representing of Various Categories & Periods (Room 9)

Along with room 10, these new rooms go by modern-day museum standards and are of an educational nature. The visitor has at their disposition the information summary provided by the bilingual (Greek and English) exhibit panels and the special volumes containing the ancient texts of those inscriptions.

- decrees
- laws & sacred laws
- votive
- honorary & funerary inscriptions
- letters
- narratives & inscriptions relevant to the theater

Most significant pieces:
- votive altar of Peisistratos the Younger (mentioned by Thucidides)
- sacred law of the Hekatompedos
- copy of the famous 409/8 B.C. law of Draco
- stele with the specifications for the construction of the Philon Arsenal
- earliest Athenian decree concerning the installation of allotted at Salamis (510-500 B.C.)
- long letter addressed by the emperor Marcus Aurelius to the Athenians, in which he settles legal disputes
- Inscriptions from outside Attica, such as the famous decree of Themistocles about the confrontation of the Persian invasion of 480 B.C.


Decrees, Alliance Treaties & Economic Accounts (Room 1)

The most important examples on account of their contents (honorary decrees, alliance treaties, lists, economic accounts etc.) are displayed in the lobby and in rooms 1 and 2, which are open to the public.

- tax lists of the First Athenian Alliance (5th Century B.C.)
- lists of votive offerings from the Acropolis (i.e. inscriptions regarding the delivery and reception of sacred objects of the goddess Athena by the treasurers)
- stele with the economic accounts for the construction of Athena's chrysselephantine statue by Phidias

Funerary Monuments (internal and external courtyards)

Artifacts here were utilized as grave markers and their inscriptions commemorate the deceased.

- stelai with palmette-shaped crowning members
- relief rosettes
- small columns
- marble lekythoi
- table-shaped monuments.

Special Historical / Aesthetic Inscriptions (lobby, Room 2)

The display in the lobby follows contemporary museological principles and aesthetic considerations. Bibliographical references for the other inscriptions are available on their labels, so that the visitor can look up the related publications in the museum's library. The computer in the lobby provides general information on the history of Hellenic writing.

- fragments of Archaic perirrantiria (vessels for lustral water)
- bases of votive offerings (mainly from the Acropolis)
- stele of the Second Athenian Alliance of 388/7 B.C.
- 4th-3rd Century B.C. abacus from Salamis.