Gertrude Bell’s resolution of a disputed inscription

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Abstract

One inscribed tombstone was placed at Appa station on the Ottoman Railway line from İzmir to Dinar. The inscription was published by three different copyists in the course of eleven years. Each person who transcribed the inscription, Georg Weber, William Mitchell Ramsay and Georges Cousin, made no acknowledgement of each other. Moreover, each transcription and reconstruction differed from the other in more lines than the number of lines in which they were in agreement; the provenance for the stone was credited to different locations and the minimal description of the form of the stone left considerable doubt as to the tombstone’s design. No sketch or photograph was provided. The names on the epitaph have been assigned by the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names to a site (Sanaos) to which none of the three published editions actually tied the inscription. The dispute might have been left unresolved, but for a photograph taken by Gertrude Bell in 1907. She never published it, but, for her, it was the fitting compensation for a failed visit to the site of Colossae. By careful enhancement of the photograph and close study of its contents, the three disputed elements – the form of the tombstone, its original location and the wording of the inscription – can be resolved to a high degree of probability. The restored inscription becomes particularly valuable for a name that may connect with one of the (in)famous features of Colossian religious life — the worship of angels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1–26
Number of pages26
JournalGephyra
Volume20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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