Leave Sotimides alone!

Readers of our bulletin will remember that last year members of the Greek Epigraphic Society had the opportunity to study in the area of Faskomilia (Φασκομηλιά) an Archaic graffito shown to them by the local resident Y. Voyatzis (Deltion, December 2011). On the 30th of June 2012, Angelos Matthaiou returned to the site, this time accompanied by Nikolaos Papazarkadas. They were both extremely fortunate to be in the company of Professor Merle Langdon, who generously shared with them his unmatched knowledge of Attic topography and rupestral epigraphy. As it happens, Prof. Langdon had himself spotted the Archaic inscription in question several years before. For almost three hours, the three men, helped by the evening sunlight and employing the tricks of the trade, immersed themselves in a close study of this tantalizing graffito. For almost three hours, the harsh reality of the ongoing economic crisis slipped into oblivion. Alas, the evening was not meant to remain untainted.

Not very far away from that spot, on the crest of another, slightly lower, hill of the Faskomilia region, the tripartite group managed to find the remnants of the significant rupestral inscription of Sotimides that was discovered and published by H. R. Goette in Klio 76 (1994) pp. 124-128 (= SEG XLVI 57): Σοτιμίδες εἶναι φεμὶ οἶος παρὰ τὲν hορία[ν]. We wrote «remnants» because, unfortunately, only a small part of the inscription remains visible. As we found to our horror, the largest part of the graffito has been covered with cement used for the insertion of a modern topographical column! Although we have no reason to doubt the good intentions of whoever set up the said column, we can’t but lament the fact that, yet again, makeshift action has led to the uninentional disappearance of antiquities, in this case of a graffito that had remained intact for more than 2500 years! We have rather optimistically written of «disappearance» rather than «destruction» because we very much hope that the damage is not irreversible and that once the layer of cement is removed the graffito will re-emerge in its full glory.

A. P. Matthaiou – N. Papazarkadas