The Gymnasium Inscription is in fact not an inscription written on a stone, but a clay tablet written in Greek that is now in the Louvre, Paris. It gives a list of winners at an athletic contest and shows that the Greek community of Babylon was still very much alive in the late second century BCE.
- note[All Parthian kings called themselves Arsaces. Before adopting the title "king of kings" in 109 BCE, Mithradates II styled himself "the great king Arsaces".] In the reign [the great] king Arsaces,
- Epiphanes and Philhellene.note[Epiphanes: God Manifest. Philhellene: Friend of the Greeks.] [In the year]
- 137 according to the king's reckoning [but according to the old reckoning]
- 202,note[The year 137 of the Arsacid era and the year 202 of the Seleucid era correspond to 6 October 111 - 30 March 110 BCE.] when Pe[l....] was gymnasiarch. [These]
- are the winners in the entire [year],
- for which the money was furnished by Di[ogenes son of]
- Artemidoros, who has become pay[master in the]
- year 192.
- Of the ephebes:
- with the bow: Dikaios, son of Diodoros,
- with the javelin: Artemidoros, son of Andronikos,
- with the hollow shield: Kastyrides, son of Kephalon,
- with the oblong shield: Demetrios, son of Athenoenes,
- in the long course: Aristides, son of Artemidoros,
- in the short-course: Nikanor, son of Hermolaos.
- Of the neoi:
- with the bow: Dikaios, son of Nikostratos,
- with the javelin: Herakleon, son of Herakleon,
- [with the hollow shield: ……]s, son of Apollodoros,
- [with the oblong shield: ………, son of …..o]genes.
Note that all these names are purely Greek, but also note the preponderant position of the theophoric names with Dio- = Bêl, Apollo = Nabû, Artemis = Nanaia, Herakles = Nergal. The element –doros may well represent the Babylonian iddin "he/she gave". These people with pure Greek names may have been Babylonians with Babylonian names and have had a "multiple ethnic identity". Cf. Artemidoros, son of Diogenes, who is also called Minnanaios, son of Touphaios in a Greek inscription from Uruk dated to 110 CE.
- Assar, F. 2003, "Parthian Calendars at Babylon and Seleucia on the Tigris", in: IRAN, 41 p.77.
- Haussoulier, B. 1903, "Inscriptions grecques de l’extrême-orient grec" in: Mélanges Perrot: receuil de mémoires concernant l’archéologie classique, la littérature et l’histoire anciennes dédié à Georges Perrot, Paris, p.159 no. 4;
- Haussoulier, B. 1903, "Inscriptions grecques de Babylone", in: Klio 9, pp. 352-3, no. 1;
- Schmidt, E. 1941, "Die Griechen in Babylon und das Weiterleben ihrer Kultur", Archäologische Anzeiger 56, pp. 816f, no. 5;
- SEG VII 39.
- Van der Spek, R.J. 2005, "Ethnic segregation in Hellenistic Babylon." in: W.H. van Soldt, R Kalvelagen, D. Katz eds., Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia. Papers read at the 48th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Leiden, 1-4 July 2002. (Leiden), nr. 8 (page 406-407).
- Cf. Sherwin-White, S., Kuhrt, A. 1993, From Samarkhand to Sardis. A new approach to the Seleucid empire (London), pp.157-8.
Thanks to Farhad Assar for clarifying the king's title's.