Macedonian Archaeology: “First of the Hellenes in the Province” – An Inscription from Mygdonia

macedonian archaeology

Pantelis Nigdelis and Asterios Lioutas presented a couple of years ago, a very interesting research entitled “First of the Hellenes in the Province- a new inscription from Mygdonia” focused on an inscription coming from the region of Mygdonia. As the archaeologists noted, the Inscription was found specifically in the Palaiokastron hill archaeological site, which is approximately one kilometre northwest of the village of Mavrouda in the Langada district of the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, and it came to light in May 2001.


The Bust from Mygdonia

  The inscription is found on a bust of a male figure, worked in coarse-grained marble and standing on a small base. The dating of the bust to the second quarter of the third  century is based on comparisons with similar works from workshops in Thessaloniki .

The text on the Inscription (See next Image) says:

Mygdonia Inscription


Bust Detail

 According to this text the bust was erected in honour of one [Ae?]lius Nicopolianus by his slave Zosimus, who was a πραγματευτής. In Macedonia, stewards (πραγματευταί) and overseers (οἰκονόμοι) are attested as a rule in inscriptions in lowland districts, such as Philippi, Langada, Thessaloniki, Pella, Pydna, Heraclea Lyncestis, and Pelagonia, and were usually slaves or freedmen. The aforementioned [Ae?]lius Nicopolianus, was probably a Macedonian, scion of a Greek family that had likely acquired Roman citizenship (civitas Romana) during the reign of Hadrian or the Antonines.

 It is well-known that during the reign of Hadrian, Thessalonike was a member of the Panhellenion.

In brief,  Hadrian created the Panhellenion, a federation consisting of Greeks which gave equal representation to all Greek cities and thereafter played a conspicuous part in the history of Roman Greece.

In the Panhellenion Leaque which started about 131 AD, a city could take part ONLY if the city could prove her “greekness”. This “greekness” should be as cultural as much as ancestral.

From other inscriptions being found, we are aware that certain city members who proved their “greekness” among others were Athens, Megara, Sparta, Chalcis, Argos, Epidaurus, Amphicleia, Corinth and of course Thessalonica. It is not coincidence that a distinguished Macedonian of the city served as Άρχων των Πανελλήνων (“Archon οf the Pan-Hellenes”) during 205-208 A.D.

 What should be of great significance here is the phrase πρῶτος Ἑλλήνων τῆς ἐπαρχείου (“First of the Hellenes in the Province”). The Greek archaeologists clarify that the word ἐπάρχειος here is attested for the first time in a Macedonian inscription, is used in place of the more common ἐπαρχεία; it occurs in several  inscriptions of the imperial age in various Greek-speaking regions. The word σύνεδρος signifies that he represented his Koinon of the Macedonians meeting in Beroea. To  assuming of  course that he Koinon  of the Macedonians meeting in Beroea. To judge from the information we have, he must have been the leading delegate from the district, assuming of course that he  did indeed come from there and was not simply a wealthy Macedonian who had acquired property in the area.


 The honorific title πρῶτος Ἑλλήνων τῆς ἐπαρχείου, a title also found in different variations among inscriptions elsewhere, like in Asia Minor, reveals the expression of strong faith in their own Greek Identity among Macedonians.


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