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Last Updated on 28 Feb 2017

Author: Sophia Zoumbaki

CAPInv. 538: U-PEL-001


i. Geographical area Peloponnese with Adjacent Islands
ii. Region Corinthia
iii. Site Sicyon


i. Association with unknown name U-PEL-001


i. Date(s) vi / v BC


i. Source(s) SEG 11: 244 (VI-V BC)
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Greek regulation for the use of a hestiatorion and a chalkion followed by a list of 73 male names.
i.c. Physical format(s) A rectangular tablet made of an alloy of copper and tin, preserved almost intact. Four nail-holes on the four corners served to fix the tablet to some surface.
ii. Source(s) provenance In the Sikyonian countryside, near the village Kryoneri (former Matsani) at a place called Tzami. The inscription is now preserved in the Bronze Collection of the National Archaeological Museum.


i. Archaeological remains Lolos 2010: 284-7 gives the results of his survey on the flat summit of the hill, where the inscription was found. The abundant architectural and ceramic remains dating from Late Archaic to Early Classical period, indicate the existence of a settlement which occupied the whole plateau, whilst sherds from miniature skyphoi, kotylai, kalathoi and krateres at the north eastern corner of the plateau may indicate a sanctuary. Could the hestiatorion mentioned in the inscription be part of this sanctuary? Since hestiatoria were often parts of sanctuaries, it could have been part of a sacred complex. However, neither the sacred or profane nature of the hestiatorion of the inscription nor its architectural form can be guessed. The fact that the tablet bears holes for nails, shows that it was fixed on a hard surface, a door or a wall, which rather excludes the possibility of common dining under a temporary structure, such as a tent, cf. Schmitt-Pantel 1992: 312-3.
ii. References to buildings/objects ἑστιατόριον (hestiatorion, l. 1)
χαλκιών (chalkion, l. 1)
τὰ ὄρε (ta ore, l. 1)

All of these are to be common among the individuals listed below the regulations concerning their use. The hestiatorion is a dinning hall.
The chalkion is to be found in Homer and Hesiod in the sense of a bronze smithy. In the context of the inscription in question it is rather to be interpreted either as the whole of the bronze cooking utensils of the hestiatorion (Orlandos1937/38) or as the place where the bronze cooking utensils were stored (Peek 1941, Lejeune 1943, Hallof in Koerner 1993), apparently a part of the establishment of the hestiatorion.

The interpretation of τὰ ὄρε, ta ore, is problematic. The editio princeps of the inscription, Orlandos 1937/38, based on Poll. Onom 7.151 and 10.130, interpreted the word as wooden basins of olive-presses. On the basis of the scholiast of Aristoph. Ach. 83, Tomlinson 2010: 280-1 interprets it as "chamber pots". Lolos 2010: 280-1 rejects both interpretations, the latter because the context does not allow it, and the former because olive presses were as a rule near olive groves. The high altitude of the site, where the inscription was found, is prohibitive for growing of olive trees but not for vineyards, since they are not easily damaged by frost. Therefore, Lolos 2010: 280, based on Harpocration's interpretation of the term ὄρον (oron) as σκεῦός τι γεωργικόν (skeuos ti georgikon) and as ξύλον τι, ᾧ τὴν πεπατημένην σταφυλὴν πιέζουσιν (xylon ti, hoi ten pepatemenen staphylen piezousin), understands the word as "a wine-pressing wooden board". The fact that the word ὄρη, ore is not the plural form of the word ὄρον, oron, but ὄρος, oros, is interpreted by Lolos as a mistake.


vi. Laws and rules The first part of the inscription contains the rules of the use of the hestiatorion, the chalkion and ta ore by a group of 73 men. These are to be common among them, provided that they live there and bring the τέλη (tele). The term tele is interpreted by Lolos 2010: 281 either as dues, services or offerings, either monetary or in kind. It is further prohibited that they sell or exchange their common belongings.
viii. Obligations The members of the group of the 73 men listed in the inscription are obliged to live in a concrete place, apparently near the hestiatorion, and to contribute the tele (l. 2).
ix. Privileges The members of the 73 men-group share a common hestiatorion, a chalkion, ta ore and their remaining common belongings.


ii. Realty An hestiatorion, a chalkion, ta ore and other common belongings (l. 2: καὶ τἆλα, kai tala) of the group are mentioned in the inscription.
iii. Income The prescript only mentions the τέλη, tele, that the members of the group are obliged to contribute. The term tele is interpreted by Lolos 2010: 281 either as dues, services or offerings, either monetary or in kind.


i. Number 73
ii. Gender Men
Note All names listed are male.
iii. Age Adults
Note The prohibition to sell or exchange the common belongings indicates that the members were adults. This is perhaps also indicated by their obligation to contribute ta tele.
iv. Status On the basis of the members' obligation to contribute ta tele, Lolos 2010: 281-2 suggests that they were "in all likelyhood Sikyonian citizens of some means", whilst people of lower status, such as serfs (cf. κατωνακοφόροι, katonakophoroi of Sikyon attested in Theopompos and Menaichmos, respectively FGrHist 115, F 176 and 131, F 1) or slaves, are excluded. He also rejects (p. 282, n. 18) the suggestion in Peek 1941: 202-3, followed by Koerner 1993: 71, that the members of the group could be identified with foreigners, since residence requirement applies in Athens to metics. The Sikyonian hinterland, far from harbours and trade, where the tablet was found, and the early date of the inscription, however, rather exclude the possibility that the group discussed here is an association of foreigners.


i. Comments The mention of a common hestiatorion implies common banquets.
iii. Bibliography Jeffery, L.H. (1990), The Local Scripts of Archaic Greece. A Study of the Origin of the Greek Alphabet and Its Development from the Eighth to the Fifth Centuries B.C. rev. edn. Oxford.
Koerner, R. (1993), Inschriftliche Gesetzestexte der frühen griechischen Polis. Aus dem Nachlaß von Reinhard Koerner herausgegeben von Klaus Hallof. Köln, Wien, Böhlau.
Leujeune, M. (1943), ‘En marge d'inscriptions grecques dialectales. I.’, REA 45: 183-198.
Lolos, Y. (2010), ‘A bronze inscribed tablet from the Sikyonian countryside. A reappraisal’, in: G.L. Reger, F.X. Ryan, and T.F. Winters (eds.), Studies in Greek epigraphy and history in honour of Stephen V. Tracy, Bordeaux: 275-92.
Orlandos, A.K. (1937/38), ‘Ἐπιγραφαι τῆς Σικυωνίας’ Ἑλληνικά 10: 5-12, no. 1.
Peek, W. (1941), ‘Heilige Gesetze’ MDAI (A) 46: 200-7.
Ruzé, F. and Van Efferterre, H. (1994), Nomima. Recueil d'inscriptions politiques et juridiques de l'archaïsme grec. I. Rome.
Schmitt-Pantel, P. (1992), La Cité au Banquet. Histoire des repas publics dans les cités grecques. Rome, Paris.
Tomlinson, R.A. (1980), ‘Two Notes on Possible Hestiatoria’, ABSA 75: 221-8.


i. Private association Possible
Note There has been a lengthy debate on the sacred or profane nature of this group as well as on its private or civic character. Lolos 2010: 287-92 offers an overview of the bibliography on these problems, discusses the suggestions of various scholars and reassesses the related questions.
Peek 1941: 201-2 suggests that we are dealing with a group which is associated with a particular cult, since hestiatoria are as a rule connected with sanctuaries. On the contrary, Orlandos 1937/38: 7 considers the 73 men as a kind of syssitoi, as their number is too large for a ritual banquet, and Schmitt-Pantel 1992: 307-8 also speaks of a subdivision of the population of Sikyon. Koerner 1993: 72 inclines to the view that it was a private group, as no penalty is foreseen in the prescript for eventual transgressors. Lolos, on the basis of parallels, excludes the possibility that the 73 men represent a portion of all three or four tribes of Sikyon (73 cannot be divided neither in 3 nor in 4) or the whole of a tribe (the number is too restricted for the size of the settlement) or members of a genos (too large of a number for gennetai); it would be more sensible to consider them as members of a phratry or an hetaireia, but their civic character does not exclude the religious nature of their common banquets, as parallels show and as the sanctuary on the plateau endorses.
As the inscription is the earliest attestation of an hestiatorion and of rules of common dinning and one of earliest attestations of the organization of communal life, the question still remains open.