Koan Letter Cutters

The list of Koan epigraphical "hands" which follows is intended solely to illustrate the potential for identifying the work of individual stonecutters in the Corpus of Koan Hellenistic inscriptions - it should go without saying that it is far from complete. A lettercutter is identified as such only in cases where I have been able to identify at least two inscriptions in the same script in the squeeze collection in Oxford - which itself represents only a limited subset of the whole body of Koan inscriptions.

A set of rigorously subjective criteria for identifying the work of individual stonecutters has been defined by Stephen Tracy in his pioneering work on Attic and Samian stonecutters:

"The following steps have been used in studying the cutters presented below. 1) For each hand a large, well-preserved and, if possible, securely dated fragment was chosen for intensive study. The writing on this fragment then became the standard in the search for other examples of the lettering. 2) 'Learning' the hand was and is the real challenge in achieving any meaningful study of ancient cutters. One does it by repeated study of the lettering on the fragment selected, drawing every letter, sometimes over and over again, and noting every variation. It is a slow, painstaking process requiring weeks and sometimes months; the time varies from cutter to cutter. After considerable study it helps to verbalize, that is to put in writing, the peculiarities of the cutter's style. By slow degrees one gains a familiarity with the lettering until at some point (I do no know exactly how) one comes to 'know' the hand just the way one knows the writing of a close acquaintance. The goal is to reach this point. 3) Once one 'knows' a hand, then one does a thorough search for other examples of the writing.

". . . One cannot properly speak of the hand of a cutter unless one has learned it. Moreover, to study a hand until one knows it and can recognize it intuitively and instantly, the way one does the writing of one's mother - this, as I have just described, is a long, laborious process and is only possible when one has a large enough sampleof the lettering to permit study. Several hundred clearly preserved letters ought ideally to be the minimum. I feel constrained to observe that most assignments of inscriptions to 'hands' do not rest on such study. They are merely the opinion of the writer in question that the lettering on two fragments is identical or very similar."
S.V. Tracy, Attic Letter-Cutters of 229 to 86 B.C. (Berkeley 1990), p. 3.

Although I have taken some pains over this study of Koan lettering styles, the time that I have spent on studying the squeeze collection in Oxford, when averaged across the number of letter-cutters identified in the list offered below, amounts to a few days for each hand. It follows that my approach has been at the same time more subjective and less rigorous than the practice recommended by Tracy. The identifications which follow run the risk of being a poor parody of Tracy's work. Accordingly, they require to be treated with caution. To the properly sceptical reader, I offer limited accountability by providing digitised photographs of squeezes of each document cited. A further element of self-verification is provided by a number of new associations of isolated fragments which have resulted from this study. Iscrizioni di Cos ED 61 + 189, for example, two fragments of a decree establishing a cult of Arsinoe not listed here separately as an identifiable hand, has acquired two new fragments from the unpublished material in the Herzog archive (Syll 0884 and 0889).

1. HG 1-4 cutter (mid- or second half of fourth century)

72 dpi image of HG 3.
A series of other fourth century cult calendars (HG 1-4) post-dating the synoecism were also cut in the same hand, as Herzog noticed. HG 5, which Herzog identified as similar but perhaps earlier, is somewhat different.

2. HG 12 CUTTER (late fourth century)

72 dpi image of HG 12.
The following two fragmentary inscriptions appear to be in the same hand as HG 12:

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 92 (fragment of a lex sacra)
72 dpi image of ED 92.
Segre, in Iscrizioni di Cos, compared this fragment for lettering as well as content, with HG 14; but the script is clearly different - for example, in the letter shapes of mu and sigma.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 108 (fragment of a proxeny decree)
72 dpi image of ED 108.

3. OGIS 43 Cutter (Chiron 29 (1999) 257-66, no. 2) (first half 3rd century)

72 dpi image of Chiron 29 (1999) 257-66, no. 2, fr. B.

The following inscriptions appear to have been cut by the same stonemason:

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 36
72 dpi image of ED 36 face B.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 39
72 dpi image of ED 39.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 48
72 dpi image of ED 48 face B fr. 2.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 63
72 dpi image of ED 63.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 70
72 dpi image of ED 70.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 190
72 dpi image of ED 190.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 226
72 dpi image of Iscrizioni di Cos ED 226.

Sylloge 0634 (unpublished diagraphe for the priesthood of Asklepios)

From this list, ED 36 probably belongs with ED 48. The character size and interlinear spacing of ED 36 face B closely match those of ED 48 B3 - although the latter is not inscribed on its reverse. Since the lettering of ED 48 B2 is less widely spaced, ED 36 should belong between 48 B3 and B2. ED 63 shares the same letter size and interlinear spacing and may also be related.

It is possible that ED 226 may have been the heading of ED 39. The interlinear spacing and character height match closely, although not perhaps perfectly.

4. Syll3 398 cutter (ca. 278-242)

72 dpi image of Syll3 398.
The following inscriptions were probably cut by the same stonemason:

Welles, Royal Correspondence 26-28
72 dpi image of RC 28.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 145 (diagraphe for priesthood of Hermes Enagonios)
72 dpi image of ED 145.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 35

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 159(?)
Too little of this fragment survives for the identification to be secure.

5. Asylia 28 Cutter (c. 242)

72 dpi image of K.J. Rigsby, Asylia no. 28.

The following inscriptions were probably cut by the same stonemason:

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 38
72 dpi image of ED 38.

Welles, Royal Correspondence 25 (Ziaelas)
72 dpi image of RC 25.

6. Asylia 25 Cutter (c. 242)

72 dpi image of K.J. Rigsby, Asylia no. 25 (Kassandreia).

The same stone cutter inscribed the remaining documents on the same stele and also series of texts on at least two other stelai.

7. IC I.viii.7 Cutter (Knossos for Hermias) (c. 220)

72 dpi image of IC I.viii.7.

The same stonecutter also inscribed the Gortynian decree for Hermias (on a separate stele?), together with at least one other decree honouring another Koan (Praxagoras the son of Nikarchos, presumably the grandson of the homonymous doctor):

Tituli Calymnii test XIII
72 dpi image of Tituli Calymnii test XIII.

Chiron 28 (1998) 137-40, no. 21, a decree of Sinope for the Koan Dionnos Polytionos, was apparently cut in the same hand, as Herzog had noted and K. and L. Hallof now confirm (ibid., 139 with n. 118).

8. Tituli Calymnii test xii Cutter (late 3rd century)

72 dpi image of TCtest. XII.

The following inscription was probably also cut by the same stonemason:

P.Boesch, Theoros p. 28
72 dpi image of Theoros p. 28.

R. Herzog, Heilige Gestetze 8 (Purification lex sacra: ca. 240)

The lettering of HG 8 is also close to that of TC test. XII, but mu has more consistently diverging outer strokes; this may just be a minor variation, since the same form also occurs sporadically in TC XII.

9. Iscrizioni di Cos ED 49 Cutter (late third century?)

72 dpi image of ED 49.

The following inscriptions seem to have been cut by the same stonemason:

Paton-Hicks, Inscriptions of Cos 7
72 dpi image of PH 7.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 17 + 26 + 130 + 194
72 dpi image of ED 130.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 110
72 dpi image of ED 110.

Syll 0885 (unpublished fragment from Herzog archive)

R. Herzog, G. Klaffenbach, Asylieurkunden aus Kos 1 (Ptolemaic letter)
72 dpi image of Asylieurkunden 1.

Herzog and Klaffenbach identified this as a fragment of a letter from Ptolemy II - since it refers to "our sister Arsinoe", presumably Arsinoe II - anticipating recognition of the asylia of the Asklepieion. Kent Rigsby has recently, and with justification, questioned this identification (Asylia pp. 124-26, no. 13).

Another inscription cut in a similar hand may be Iscrizioni di Cos ED 172; the small number of letters preserved, however, and the eroded surface of this fragment makes it impossible to identify the lettering with security.
72 dpi image of ED 172

10. Syll3 569 Cutter (Theukles son of Aglaos) (late third century)

72 dpi image of Syll3 569.

Syll3 567 and Syll3 568 have been attributed to the same stone cutter, but 569 has xi with central vertical - absent in 568 - and a distinctive, small mid-line omega.

The distinctive omega of 569 has a parallel in PH 387, which also shares other letter forms with 569. The difference in scale of lettering makes a secure judgement difficult, but it is possible that the same stonecutter may have been responsible for both inscriptions.

11. PH 10 Cutter (Wartime subscription of 202/1 BC)

The decree establishing the terms of the subscription on the front face of PH 10 is cut in a larger and, apparently, different script from the lists of contributors on the other faces of the inscription. It is the distinctive lettering of the lists of contributors which I identify as that of the "Cutter of PH 10". The same lettering is shared by the surviving fragments of two other copies of the decree and list of contributors (Iscrizioni di Cos ED 206 and 227).

72 dpi image of PH 10 face D, ll. 31-52.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 206
72 dpi image of ED 206 face A.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 227
72 dpi image of ED 227 face A.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 42
72 dpi image of ED 42.

12. Apollo at Halasarna Cutter (second half of third century)

A recently published decree of Halasarna for Herodotos (Chiron 28 (1998), 121-24, no. 13) seems to have been inscribed by the same stonecutter as an unpublished inscription recording a subscription for the completion of the temple of Apollo at Halasarna (Syll 0728).

72 dpi image of Chiron 28 (1998), 121-24, no. 13.

13. Inschriften von Erythrai und Klazomenai 112 cutter (early second century)

72 dpi image of IEK 112.

The same stonecutter seems also to have inscribed SEG XXVII, 518, a fragmentary Athenian decree for Kleom[-] of Kos.

14. PH 367 Cutter (Halasarna Registration) (first half of second century)

72 dpi image of PH 367.

ASA 1963-64 XI (Isthmos registrations)
72 dpi image of ASA 1963-64 XI face A

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 182 (Priesthood of Eumenes II)
72 dpi image of ED 182.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 37
72 dpi image of ED 37 face A.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 60 + 112
72 dpi image of ED 60

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 166 (with 60 + 112)
72 dpi image of ED 166.

16. Tituli Calymnii 78 Cutter (Kalymnian decree for the doctor Antipatros) (early second century)

72 dpi image of Tituli Calymnii 78.

The copy of this decree inscribed and set up in the Asklepieion was cut in the same hand (Tituli Calymnii test XXIV), as also was the Koan subscription list Iscrizioni di Cos ED 212, which should be approximately contemporary with PH 10 (Nikophon Timostratou and Kallistratos Kallistratou appear in both) and Iscrizioni di Cos ED 239 (Theudotos Herakleitou in both), dated to the eponymous monarchia of Aristokleidas (ca. 195-192 in Christian Habicht's list of Koan monarchoi).

72 dpi image of ED 212 face A.

Herzog compared the lettering of Tituli Calymnii 78 with that of two decrees for Koan doctors now published as Chiron 28 (1998), 115-16 no. 11 and 141-42, no. 23. I have not been able to verify these comparisons.

16. Chiron 29 (1999) no. 8 Cutter (Chalkis decree) (after 167 BC)

72 dpi image of Chiron 29 (1999) no. 8, frs. b-c

Fragments of 2 unpublished leges sacrae were cut in the same script: Syll 0575 and 0632 a-c

17. Chiron 29 (1999) no. 9 Cutter (Eretria decree) (mid-second century)

72 dpi image of Chiron 29 (1999) no. 9.

The following inscriptions appear to have been cut in the same hand:

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 131 (NS 434)
72 dpi image of ED 131.

This fragment of an honorific decree for a civic benefactor may be related to Iscrizioni di Cos ED 201.

Chiron 28 (1998) 96-99 no. 3 (decree for a dikastagogos, inscribed at Halasarna)
72 dpi image of Chiron 28 (1998) 96-99 no. 3.

Syll 0764 (unpublished inscription concerning a foundation established by Teleutias)

18. Syll3 1000 Cutter (late second century)

72 dpi image of Syll3 1000

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 180 (diagraphe for Herakles Kallinikos)
72 dpi image of ED 180.

Iscrizioni di Cos ED 195
72 dpi image of ED 195.

Syll 0616 (unpublished diagraphe for Aphrodite Pandamos and Pontia)

The following text seems to have been cut in the same general style as the above diagraphai, although the lettering is somewhat larger:

Paton-Hicks, Inscriptions of Cos 34 (Foundation of the Pythokleia)
72 dpi image of PH 34