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24.02.2010 00:29 - Pistiros: Emporion of the North Aegean
Автор: apollon Категория: Изкуство   
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Последна промяна: 30.12.2014 20:38


William McCulloh Symposium
March 27, 1999 Pistiros: Emporion of the North Aegean
by Jennifer E. Johnston
Kenyon college

As a senior in college here at Kenyon from which I graduated , our Greek class, which Professor McCulloh taught, chose a series of passages for independent reading. It was then, with Professor McCulloh, that I completely translated my first Greek inscriptions, another of which I will discuss with you today. I mention this not because it was unusual for Professor McCulloh to encourage students to read independently or to meet with them individually—this was his vocation, I seems to me—but, first, because of his unparalleled modesty, which all of you here today will recognize. Greek inscriptions were not his field, he said. Second, I mention it because of the interest, indeed perhaps even wonder, that Professor McCulloh showed that day we read the inscriptions together—at things that he didn"t need to know about, things that were outside his field. People—teachers—like Bill McCulloh are a rare breed among professional classicists. I thank him for the gifts I received from his generosity.

Most of the inscriptions I read with Professor McCulloh that spring concerned a "backwater" of the ancient world that the Greeks called Thrace, and so does the Greek inscription that I will be discussing with you today. My topic today, the Pistiros inscription (as I will call it in shorthand after the name of one of the communities the inscription mentions), was uncovered in 1990 near an archeological site in central Bulgaria.(1) You will find this place labeled as Vetren on the map on the reverse of your handout. In antiquity, this region, Thrace, was the home of a race called (surprise) Thracians, whom classical Greek writers viewed as barbarians, savage warriors with strange customs.

The inscription dates to the middle of the fourth century BC, approximately 25 years before another barbarian, Alexander the Great, set out from Macedonia, just to the east of Thrace, on his march of conquest. At the time this inscription was cut into stone, the kingdom of Macedonia had not yet become the major power that it would later be in Thrace. Power in the region appears to have been divided among and fluctuated between Thracian dynasts, Greek generals and officials, and perhaps surprisingly as this inscription shows, communities of merchant traders.

The inscription itself refers constantly to specific economic issues and regulations, a relatively rare event in any Greek document, thus making this inscription a real find for ancient economic historians. For example, the word emporia, a Greek word meaning something close to "trading post," occurs repeatedly. So does the word emporitai, or traders. The inscription also mentions taxes taken along roads through central and coastal Thrace, presumably tolls on traded items, as well as inspections of wagons (which the merchants themselves are to open and close) presumably carrying trade goods.

The region where the inscription was found was classic "frontier territory," a zone for interaction and exchange between groups, in this case between Greeks and Thracians. According to the Bulgarian archeologists who are excavating the site where the stele was discovered, the remains in the area are indeed consistent with those of a fourth century BC trading community. This comes as no real surprise, since these mountains were known in antiquity for iron and silver and the site lay along an important navigable river and at the mouth of a frequently-traveled pass through the east-west mountain range.

Aside from the inscription"s economic content, our first consideration must be with its author, who is not explicitly identified in the text. The series of infinitives suggests that the bulk of the extant text made up part of an oath; we can tell that the oath was to be sworn by an individual by the third person singular pronoun aИtТw that appears in lines 14-15, 31, and 33. This oath, among other things, guarantees the autonomy of a community referred to as Pistiros. This place will have no garrison, for instance. The oath also promised traders who live in Pistiros protection against seizure. Finally, the oath also remits tolls along certain specified roads through Thrace.

The accepted conclusion among commentators on this inscription up to the point that I began work on it was and is that the individual swearing is a Thracian king, specifically a leader of the Odrysian tribe, a group known best to most classicists through their fabulous gold and silver ornaments and serving dishes that periodically tour museums in the US and Europe. The two main pieces of evidence cited in support of this conclusion are (1) a reference in the inscription to the Thracian king Kotys ("The merchants themselves are to open and close the wagons, just as it was in the time of Kotys" (ll. 24-26), a dynast who seems to have ruled large parts of Thrace before his assassination in 360 BC, and (2) an unspoken assumption that the location of the stone in the far inland region of Thrace leaves a Thracian monarch as the only option; traditionally, the ancient Greek"s highway was the sea, not difficult mountain passes through barbarian regions.

Several logical flaws present themselves in both arguments. First, anyone, Greek or Thracian, could have used the name of a Thracian king in an inscription as a reminder of past circumstances: "back when Kotys was king, we used to do it this way." Kotys had been a powerful ruler. Greek communities had paid him tribute in the form of silver vessels and other gifts. It would have made sense in fourth century Thrace for both Greeks and Thracians to have seen Kotys" rule as a stable reference point, especially since civil war between Thracian dynasts over territory followed after his death, conflict only resolved by the Macedonian conquest of Thrace and defeat of the Thracian dynasts. The reference to Kotys may indicate a Thracian king, but not necessarily.

The second assumption supporting a Thracian king as the only possible author of this text—the location of the stone far inland from where most Greeks usually ventured—also has serious weaknesses. Aside from the fact that it is dangerous to conclude that a Greek general or official could not be the author simply because we have no evidence in ancient texts that Greeks ever traveled this far into the interior for trade, settlement or other purposes, the underlying assumption that the inscription concerns mainly an interior community is also overdrawn. All of the place-names mentioned in the inscription seem to lie along the north Aegean coastline, some 200 km south of the inscription find-site, including the important site of Pistiros, which all previous commentators have identified, incorrectly, I believe, with the interior site where Bulgarian archeologists found this stele.

The name as written in the inscription—Pistiros—bears a remarkable resemblance to the name of another community that we know was an emporion, or trading post, along the coast of Thrace, opposite the island of Thasos. This community, mentioned by the historian Herodotus and later lexicographers, is called "Pistyros." The difference between the "Pistiros" in the inscription and the "Pistyros" that is certainly coastal is only one letter—an upsilon in the mid-fifth century BC Herodotus shifts to a iota in our mid-fourth century inscription.

Considerable spelling changed occurred in the Greek language during the century that separates these two references, as Professor McCulloh, who first introduced me to the idea that vowels shift over time, knows quite well. For the rest of you, it may make sense this way—the language of Shakespeare is not the language of Milton. About a century separates the two of these as well.

I do not believe, as previous commentators on this inscription do, that the two spellings of Pistiros indicate two separate communities with nearly identical names in Thrace—one in the interior, one on the coast. It seems to me to make better sense to see them as two different spellings of a single coastal community: Pistiros and Pistyros must be the same place and located along the north Aegean coast, not in the interior.

I am also fairly certain that one of the locations in the inscription that has not been previously identified—the emporia Belana Prasenoi, one of the end-points of the trade routes mentioned in the inscription, can be located along the north Aegean coastline. Prasenoi are probably a Thracian tribe, although there is no surviving reference to the name. Belana almost certainly refers to the region of the Melas gulf in eastern Thrace, a body of water you will find labeled on your map. An ordinary Athenian ancient Greek would used the pronunciation "Melana" to refer to the Melas gulf in this inscription and would have spelled it with a "M" (mu). But, in Thrace, they had a bit of an accent, being a backwoods sort of people. Here "M" (mu) and "B" (beta) were often interchangeable in written form for a sound somewhere in between the two. The name of the ancient Greek goddess "B°ndiw," for instance, was often written "M°ndiw" in Thrace.

The Belana of the inscription is, therefore in all likelihood, a Thracian variant of the ordinary Greek Melana. As it happens, the Melas Gulf was the site of several fourth century emporia mentioned in other sources and also was the eastern terminus of Thasos" regulation of the North Aegean wine trade. Thus, I conclude that the Belana emporia Prasenoi of the Pistiros inscription are likely to be located in the coastal region north of the Melas Gulf—on your map this is near the Thracian Chersonese, where the emporia of Kobrys and Deris are located.

Now, why all this emphasis on the coastal concerns of this inscription? I dwell upon is because doing so presents other possibilities for the identity of the oath-taker in the inscription. A common denominator in the mid-fourth century history of coastal Pistiros, the Melas Gulf emporia, the Greek city-states of Maroneia and Apollonia, both of which are mentioned in the inscription, was the growing economic and political power of the Greek city-state of Thasos, on the island of the same name just off the north Aegean coast from Pistiros. Pistiros, as described by Herodotus was, in fact, a "polis of the Thasians," meaning that the community was to some way dependent on the Thasians. Even the north Aegean communities which we have no reason to believe were dependencies of Thasos—the polis of Maroneia, for instance—were forced to deal closely with and occasionally come into conflict with their powerful Thasian neighbors.

Thasos was first and foremost an economic powerhouse. Thasian wine, for instance, was exported throughout the Greek world. Thasos banned the import of any other kind of wine into the cities of the north Aegean from the late fifth century. Thasos also appointed "magistrates assigned to the continent" to enforce weights and measures from the same time period.

In the mid-fourth century, moreover, Thasos seems to have embarked on a policy of economic and political expansion. Increases in finds of fourth century Thasian coins and amphorae (Greeks transported wine in these pottery vessels) in the Thracian interior, for instance, suggest a rise in interior trade. In terms of political expansion, from the mid-fourth century Thasos sponsored colonial ventures on the continent in search of resources such as silver and iron (the mining colony at Krenides, for example), engaged in wars of conquest in its own north Aegean backyard, and provided an invaluable partner to a revived (if embattled) imperial Athens in the north Aegean.

A final scenario illustrating Thasian fourth century expansion may provide an exact context into which we may fit the Pistiros inscription. Thasos came into conflict with the Greek city-state of Maroneia over the Aegean cost community of Stryme in 361/60 BC. At the time, Stryme was under the control of the Maroneians, who defended their claim to the town with ships, mercenaries, and troops drawn from the neighboring Thracian population (Dem. Poly, 22). The exact location of Stryme is still uncertain, but the description of Herodotus, who calls it a a "city of Thasos," indicates that it lay near the Hebrus river and was probably either a Thasian colony or a region with a long history of Thasian control. The dispute between Maroneia and Thasos over control of this community was apparently resolved by Athenian arbitration at some point before the late 350s. We have no direct testimony on the timing or details of the arbitration, but scholars have generally agreed that the settlement probably resulted in Thasos regaining control over Stryme.

I propose, and I am still working out the details of the proposal, that what we may have here in the Pistiros inscription is a copy of part of the settlement that Athena arbitrated. It makes sense of the fact that Thasian interests are protected, as are those of its dependent communities and merchants. It also makes sense of the prominence of Maroneia as the nexus of protected trade routes.

Two questions, at the very least, remain, however. First and still, what is the identity of the oath-taker in the Pistiros inscription? A Thasian general or official, perhaps an Athenian general or official? A Thracian king involved in the settlement? I have not yet made up my mind. Second, and perhaps more fundamental: how are we to interpret the fact that this stele was discovered in central Thrace, not on the coast of Thrace, if its concerns are coastal? We can document commercial interests in the interior for both Maroneia and Thasos and even identify some colonization of interior sites by Thasos, but there is no indication other than this inscription that Thasian interests might have extended this far north. Perhaps the fourth century site in the interior was a mixed community of Greeks and Thracians with commercial ties to Thasos that merited it a copy of its (or the region"s) commercial regulations.

One thing, and I will say this in closing, that I have always admired about Bill McCulloh is his willingness to leave things open-ended, to not eliminate all the possibilities immediately because of a desire for certainty. I have tried, and will try in my future work on this inscription, to follow his example. In doing so, I will always bear Bill McCulloh in mind, as a model, a mentor, and, of course, as my first partner in reading Greek inscriptions.

I. Text and Translation of SEG 43, 486 (Greek text based on V. Velkov and L. Domaradzka, Bulletin de Correspondence Hйllenique 118 (1994): 2 & 4.

 

Endnote

1. SEG 43, 486. First published by Velizar Velkov and Lidia Domaradzka, Bulletin Correspondence Hellenique 118 (1994) 1-15. A Greek text (based on Velkov and Domaradzka"s) and my own translation follow the text of this paper.

НАДПИСЪТ ОТ ПИСТИРОС........[някой си да се закълне] в Дионис и да бъде длъжен. А ако някой от 5 емпоритите обвини [друг], те да сесъдят един друг при своите родственици. И каквито неща се дължатот емпоритите при траките,да не прави отмяна на тези дългове.10 Земя и пасбища, които притежаватемпоритите, това да не им се отнема.Епаулисти да не изпраща приемпориите. Да не назначаваникакъв гарнизон в Пистирос, нито15 той лично, нито да възлага на друг.Клери на пистиренците да не про-меня, нито да възлага [това] на друг;Имуществата на емпоритите да неотнемат, нито той лично, нито неговите хора.20 Да не събира митата по пътищата,[за стоките] които се внасяткъм Маронея от Пистирос и от ем-пориите или от Маронея къмПистирос и Беланските емпории25 на прасените. Емпоритите да отварят изатварят впряговете.Същевременно и точно както по времето наКотис:“Маронеец не ще затварям, нито ще гоубивам, нито ще го лишавам от имот,30 нито приживе, нито след смъртта му,нито аз лично, нито някой от моите хора.Нито от аполонийците, нито оттасосците, които са в Пистирос,ще убивам някого, нито ще го35 затварям, нито ще му отнемам имота,



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