of Greek Cyrenaica

Greek Verse inscriptions
of Cyrenaica

The Inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica (IGCyr) and the Greek Verse inscriptions of Cyrenaica (GVCyr) are two corpora, the first collecting all the inscriptions of Greek (VII-I centuries B.C.) Cyrenaica, the second gathering the Greek metrical texts of all periods. These new critical editions of inscriptions from Cyrenaica are part of the international project Inscriptions of Libya (InsLib). For the first time all the inscriptions known to us in 2014, coming from this area of the ancient Mediterranean world, will be assembled in a single online and open access publication.


In this section you will find general information about the project IGCyr-GVCyr. First of all the origin of the project and the history of its evolution into the wider international project Inscriptions of Libya (InsLib) are presented; secondly the composition of the corpora and the specifics of the digital edition are described; next you will find a sketch of the history of Greek Cyrenaica; then an outline of the history of scholarship regarding archaeological and epigraphic research about Cyrenaica.

The project

A comprehensive corpus of the inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica is a longstanding desideratum among the scholars of the ancient world. Greek inscriptions from Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Cyrenaica are currently scattered among many different, sometimes outdated publications, while new texts have been recently discovered and edited.

In 2011 Catherine Dobias-Lalou, who has been a member of the French archaeological mission in Libya since 1976 and has been studying the inscriptions of the Greek period since 1970, agreed to edit a comprehensive epigraphic corpus in EpiDoc with the collaboration of scholars from the University of Bologna (Lucia Criscuolo, Alice Bencivenni), the University of Macerata (Silvia Maria Marengo, Gianfranco Paci) and the University of Roma Tor Vergata (Simona Antolini).

IGCyr | GVCyr

The IGCyr corpus assembles nearly 900 inscriptions from Greek Cyrenaica (VII-I centuries B.C.). The majority of these inscriptions have been published previously, sometimes in versions which can be improved, while nearly 100 of them are unpublished. The GVCyrcorpus assembles about 60 Greek metrical inscriptions from Greek and Roman Cyrenaica; some have been published already, but they have never been studied together.

Most of these texts have been re-read by Catherine Dobias-Lalou, who as a member of the French archaeological mission in Libya from 1976 was able to examine most of the material available in Shahat (Cyrene), Susa (Apollonia) and paid shorter visits to Tulmaytha (Ptolemais), Tocra (Taucheira), Benghazi (Euesperides/Berenike) and other locations. Further improvements have been provided by Gianfranco Paci and Silvia Maria Marengo, who have both studied the inscriptions from Cyrenaica for many years; it has also been possible to draw on the archive of earlier epigraphists of the Italian mission held by the University of Macerata. The GVCyr corpus, where texts from the Greek period are not the most numerous, profited from Joyce Reynolds’ documentation, including some unpublished items. Documents that are both prose and verse have been inserted into the GVCyr corpus (except for gvcyr033 and igcyr097100, which are distinct entries; the same for gvcyr042 and IRCyr C.749). The publication, online, of all these inscriptions in one single new critical edition has been made possible by Lucia Criscuolo, Alice Bencivenni and the University of Bologna, which is hosting the IGCyr-GVCyr corpora.

Greek Cyrenaica

Ancient Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya, which, at least from the first century A.D., was also known as the Pentapolis, i.e. the federation of five cities (Pliny, Naturalis Historia 5.5.5.): these are, from west to east, Euesperides/Berenice (Benghazi), Taucheira/Arsinoe (Tocra, Tukrah), Barka/Ptolemais (Tolemaide, Tulmaytha), Cyrene (Shahat), and Apollonia (Susa). These cities were founded by Greek colonists who did not completely control their hinterland: many villages and small towns grew up in the surrounding areas leaving visible remains to this day.

«The settled region of Cyrenaica is characterized largely by the upland plateau of the Jabal Akhdar (the Green Mountain) which projects northwards into the Mediterranean between the Gulf of Sidra (the Greater Syrtis) to the W and the low, arid coastlands of the Marmaric region towards Alexandria. The plateau rises in two steps, and while on the W there is a wide coastal strip between the foot of the jabal and Benghazi, this narrows progressively as one travels north-eastward; disappearing almost completely beyond Ptolemais. Towards the E, the land drops more gradually and as it becomes drier, so settlement is more sparse toward Tubruq. ... The Jabal Akhdar, composed mainly of limestone, rises to over 800 m above sea level and enjoys higher rainfall than any other part of Libya... The vegetation and the general character of the terrain are more reminiscent of Greece and Asia Minor than of Tripolitania or other parts of North Africa.» [Kenrick 2013: 1].


European travellers and scholars began visiting Cyrenaica already in the 18th century, although the area was difficult to access since its incorporation in the Ottoman empire in the 16th century. These first travellers were interested in copying inscriptions as well as – or, often, more than – in recognizing ancient ruins [Laronde 1987: 18].

The French consul in Tripoli, Claude Le Maire, visited Cyrene in 1706, briefly reported about it and copied the first inscription, SEG 9.169 [Le Maire in Lucas 1712; cf. Omont 1902]. Granger, pseudonym of Félix Tourtachot, a French surgeon, went to Cyrene in the thirties of the 18th century and probably copied there three inscriptions that were later attached to the papers of Michel Fourmont, professor at the Collège de France [Laronde 1987: 18-19]. In 1817 the Italian physician Paolo Della Cella was the first traveller who extensively visited the antiquities of Cyrenaica, describing in particular Cyrene and Apollonia [Della Cella 1819]. A man with a good classical education, he was able to copy Greek and Latin inscriptions. Father Pacifico from Monte Cassiano visited the Pentapolis in 1819 leaving a brief description of it [published in Delaporte 1825] and some copies of inscriptions. Subsequently, the French painter Jean-Raimond Pacho visited Cyrenaica in 1824-1825 and the detailed account of his voyage, published after his death, mentions copies of a great number of inscriptions from Cyrene, Taucheira and Barka [Pacho 1827]. These works, together with some copies by the Danish count J.C. Graber de Hemsö, consul at Tripoli, and some others, probably those by Father Pacifico, handed over to Pietro Negri, the consul of Sardinia in Tripoli, were the principal sources for the edition of the Greek inscriptions from Cyrenaica included by Johannes Franz and August Boeckh in the third volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum (CIG) [Berlin 1853: pars XXXI nos. 5129-5362b].

Browse inscriptions & indices

IGCyr and GVCyr can be explored following two principal ways. It is possible to browse the contents (Tables of Contents) or to refer to the indices (Indices). The Tables of Contents offer the inscriptions arranged by number and title, by text and object type, by date and by location. Indices display three main groups of entries attested in the texts of the inscriptions: words, names, other characters and features.

Each of the sections composing the Browse unit leads to the pages and to the inscriptions of interest following the selected paths.

Tables of Contents

Inscriptions from the collections can be accessed according to multiple criteria. First you will find the list of the inscriptions in numerical order, each one with an identifying title: this is the group Number and Title.

Or you can choose to browse the documents sorting them according to text typologies, types of monument or object, dates and locations, suggestions concerning attested contents being provided for each group. You will find: Text Type, Object Type, Date, Location.


Indices display three main categories of entries attested in the Greek texts of the inscriptions: Words, Names, Other Characters and Features.

Section Words gathers together, with minor exceptions (articles, conjunction καί, particles μέν δέ γε τε), all the attested Greek terms arranged in alphabetical order. Section Names groups seven main units of proper names: Personal Names, Names and Epithets of Rulers, Names and Epithets of Divine Entities, Offices, Place Names and ethniques, Months, Festivals.


The map of Ancient Cyrenaica is prepared as part of the Pleiades project, at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, in New York. This map is the result of the data collection achieved through the study of the inscriptions and, at the same time, the starting point for new perspectives on them.

Data Visualization

Data regarding origin and discovery of the inscriptions as well as geographical information included in the texts themselves build up greater precision than in previous maps of Ancient Cyrenaica. Browsing the map will display the geographic range of discoveries in Cyrenaica and in single cities and monumental sites.


This section displays a complete and up to date bibliography concerning inscriptions and history of Greek Cyrenaica. The catalogue is split in two parts, each of them arranged in alphabetical order: Series and Collections; Authored Editions, Articles and Monographs.

Browsing the bibliography offers access to inscription/s where the reference appears (as it is possible the other way around with each abbreviated reference included in the inscription record).

Series and Collections

This part includes both the epigraphic corpora relevant for the inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica and epigraphic research tools such as the Supplementum Epigraphicun Graecum and the Bulletin Épigraphique.

Authored Editions, Articles and Monographs

This part includes, without any further distinction, authored editions, articles and monographs relevant for the study of Greek Cyrenaica inscriptions and history.