Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity 2004

[Close Print-Friendly Version]

Author's preface


In memoriam

For my parents, Charles and Barbara Wrinch


In 1935 the young scholar Louis Robert, and his older friend, the American W. H. Buckler (my grandfather), planned to undertake an epigraphic expedition to Aphrodisias; in the event they were refused a permit, and were unable to go (see Hellenica 13, 10). We can only regret the loss of the publication that might have resulted from such an expedition; anything undertaken subsequently must be a second-best. But I am enormously grateful for the series of chances which eventually led me to follow in their footsteps, and to have had the great privilege of working on the inscriptions of this most exciting and well-loved site.

In the previous edition I suggested that I was trying to do something new. I wrote:

I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss much of this material with Professor Louis Robert before his death in 1985; by his loss all those involved in publishing or discussing inscriptions are deprived of their most valuable reader. My debt to his observations and his publications will be apparent on almost every page. After Robert, the writing of history and the use of inscriptions must find new forms. This volume is one attempt at presenting inscribed texts to demonstrate the kind of role within a historical narrative which Robert showed that they should play. It will fall short in many ways; and it will be the poorer because it will not be supplemented by the invaluable criticisms which Robert would have supplied.

That summary of the contribution of Robert falls short of what might be said; but over the years I have come to see that he was one of the first people to exploit to the full the new proximity which technology — primarily travel and the camera — gave to epigraphy during the 20th century. I was able to return to Aphrodisias almost annually, between my first visit in 1971 and the publication of the first edition in 1989. I could revisit, re-examine, re-record, in a way that would have been unimaginable in an earlier period. This I felt placed certain obligation upon me. In particular, the fullness of the account which I could give was based not only on my work in recording, but also on the work of the archaeologists and other scholars working at the site.

For this reason, I became convinced that it was time to investigate methods of publication which would admit a far fuller record of the inscriptions. The project was made possible, firstly, by the British Academy in providing a two year Research Readership, which gave me time to investigate the possibilities. I was then introduced, by Charles Crowther, of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, in Oxford, to Tom Elliott, of the Ancient World Mapping Center, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Together, working with the Centre for Computing in Humanities at King's College London, and the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, we applied for a grant from the Leverhulme Trust: the result is the present publication.

This, however, is only one small part of the project. The primary aim of this undertaking is to make Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity — now out of print in book form — available to a wider range of people. This new edition has been revised and updated; it includes some 20 new inscriptions, found between the publication of ALA in 1989, and 1995, when we thankfully handed over responsibility for the epigraphy of Aphrodisias to Angelos Chaniotis; it has abundant illustrations, plans, and other mechanisms which we hope users will find useful. But its most important function is to act as a pilot for the tools which the EpiDoc team have developed. This work is discussed in the Technical Preface which the team have written.

Archaeology is teamwork even more than other forms of academic endeavour. Developing new technology is also teamwork. I am enormously grateful to the patience and dedication of this particular group, with whom it has been a delight to work. We very much hope that users will enjoy using this publication; we hope even more that other scholars will find the tools which created it useful for their own work. The technology is not valuable just because it exists, but because it enables us to develop further the intellectual approaches of earlier and greater scholars. It certainly does not eliminate errors — but I hope that it can offer a new proximity and a fuller account of the rich material with which I have been fortunate enough to be entrusted.


My first debt is to Joyce Reynolds, who had taught me as an undergraduate, and who first introduced me to Aphrodisias, where she was already working. It is to her guidance that I owe my training, and her observations and insights have been inextricably intertwined with mine in the preparation of this volume. Most appropriately, she is responsible for the publication of the first text in this collection — an imperial letter. By now it is almost impossible to list all the people who have given me insights into this material — among them Peter Brown, Walter Cockle, Robin Cormack, Michael Crawford, Werner Eck, Denis Feissel, Judith Herrin, Christopher Jones, Wolf Liebeschuetz, Cyril Mango, Fergus Millar, Stephen Mitchell, Mette Moltesen, Donald Nicol, Andrew Palmer (on Section V), Walter Seibt (on 186), Richard Sorabji (on philosophers) and Michael Speidel (on 10). I am particularly grateful for the kindness, and exemplary scholarship, of Peter Herrmann, whose untimely death is mourned by so many epigraphers all over the world.

I was welcomed to Aphrodisias by Professor Kenan T. Erim of New York University, whose vision and commitment launched and established the excavations from 1960 until his premature death in 1991. I am especially grateful to Professor Erim for recognizing the importance and interest of the later material, and for consistently supporting my work on it. This interest has been maintained by the excavation team appointed by New York University to continue the work—Professor Christopher Ratté, of the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU, and Professor R. R. R. Smith, now Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology at Oxford. I am very grateful to them and to other members of the team for their help and co-operation. The Aphrodisias excavations are sponsored by the Institute of Fine Arts in co-operation with the Faculty of Arts and Science, New York University. We are extremely grateful to them, and to the other individuals and groups who support the project so generously—in partiuclar the Friends of Aphrodisias in New York, Izmir, London, Paris and Istanbul.

My own work was made possible by the generous financial assistance of various institutions over the years: the University of Cambridge, the University of London (Hayter Fund) and the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara gave help with travelling expenses, and the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, and, in particular the British Academy, gave help with photographic costs. The first edition was generously illustrated thanks to a grant from the Wolfson Foundation; and it would not have appeared at all without the commitment of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, and the energetic support of their Publications Committee, then chaired by Fergus Millar. It was edited by Averil Cameron, and sub-edited by Helen Cockle, to both of whom I owe a great deal. The electronic second edition has been made possible, firstly, by the award of a two-year Research Readership from the British Academy, which allowed me to design the project. Its realisation was enabled by the Leverhulme Trust, whose grant under their Research Interchange scheme allowed us to assemble the skills and insights of a wide range of colleagues.

Finally, it is customary to acknowledge the help and support of one's spouse; but such an acknowledgement here could only fall far short of the reality. Mossman Roueché accompanied me on almost all my visits to Aphrodisias between 1972 and 1991. He is responsible for the majority of the photographs, some of the measurements and some of the readings in this volume; without his partnership and unfailing support the book could never have been written. And the tradition continues; I am extremely grateful to my son, Thomas Roueché, for his help with the plans in this edition.





(c) Creative Commons Copyright by-nc-nd-2.0

[Close Print-Friendly Version]