The writing on the stone

‘A Gigantic Jigsaw Puzzle: The Epicurean Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda’

By Victoria Khroundina | April 16, 2015


Archaelogy lovers, this might be of interest. We received an email from Professor Martin Ferguson Smith via the Anglo-Turkish Society alerting us that a short film shot at the archaeological site of Oinoanda (close to Fethiye) is now available to watch on YouTube (where would we be without it).

‘Oinoanda’s most remarkable possession is the longest ancient Greek inscription in the world,’ says Professor Smith. ‘In it the philanthropic philosopher Diogenes of Oinoanda sets out the doctrines of Epicurus with the intention of bringing moral salvation to Oinoanda’s residents and visitors both in his own time (probably the first half of the second century AD) and in time to come.’ The inscription is estimated to be 65 to 80 metres in legth and potentially running to about 25,000 words, and the only one known to give a detailed exposition of a philosophical system.

Since 1884, a total of 299 pieces of the inscription have been found scattered around the ruins of Oinoanda, with archaeological teams excavating at the site from 1968 to 2003. In the decade from 2003 to 2012, 76 fragments have been found, all but one during a new epigraphical and architectural survey directed by Dr Martin Bachmann of the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul, which took place between 2007 and 2012.

Shot by a team from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara in 2011 and sponsored by the British Institute at Ankara, the film, rather than centring on the research itself, elaborates on the Epicurean approaches to concepts such as pleasure, happiness, friendship, dreams and gods. Besides inputs from Professor Smith and other exerts, there are interesting contributions from the local community. The documentary was a finalist at the 2013 TRT Documentary Prizes (Professional Category), the 24th Ankara International Film Festival and the 2013 Cinarchea International Archaeological Film Festival. It was also a special mention at this year’s Boston Turkish Film Festival.

And without much further ado, here it is. 

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