The subject of this sub-project is the development of the culture of inscriptions in Athens from the classical to the early Roman periods, as well as the interaction between this written culture and the city’s political and administrative history. At the centre of this project is the contextualisation of the often reutilised Athenian inscriptions in their original setting, and the reconstruction of the socio-practical context in which they were embedded.
Several issues are central here: does the positioning of Athenian Inscriptions at specific places (at the Acropolis, in the Agorá, or in a particular temple) follow an identifiable logic? What subjects were chosen for monumental texts and how did this develop over time? What does the script-bearer add to the meaning of the script through its materials, size and, where applicable, pictures? What relationship do the inscribed artefacts haveto other artefacts or monuments and by what ways and means do they place their mark on public space?
Basic here is the idea that inscriptions are multifunctional objects that fulfil not one but several functions. Thus apart from the circulation of information, the monumental, prestige-bearing function was doubtless of importance. With regard to precisely this second aspect, materiality and presence are often strongly distinguishing features that allow a better definition of the text monument as such than the text itself.
Although the Athenian inscriptions have as a rule been frequently published, many aspects particularly in the field of their presentification and (desired, intended, or genuinely achieved) reception have received scant attention in the research to date. Also overlooked has been the socio-demographic consequences that may be learnt from them: who in fact read the inscriptions? How were they perceived? To what extent does the presence of these artefacts – as opposed to merely their texts – make them an instrument for political propaganda, for legitimising power, or for the self-presentation of a town or particular social groups?