The Babylon Gymnasium Inscription

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.

  1. Mithradates II
    Mithradates II
    In the reign [the great] king Arsaces,note
  2. Epiphanes and Philhellene.note [In the year]
  3. 137 according to the king's reckoning [but according to the old reckoning]
  4. 202,note when Pe[l....] was gymnasiarch. [These]
  5. are the winners in the entire [year],
  6. for which the money was furnished by Di[ogenes son of]
  7. Artemidoros, who has become pay[master in the]
  8. year 192.
  9. Of the ephebes:
  10. with the bow: Dikaios, son of Diodoros,
  11. with the javelin: Artemidoros, son of Andronikos,
  12. with the hollow shield: Kastyrides, son of Kephalon,
  13. with the oblong shield: Demetrios, son of Athenoenes,
  14. in the long course: Aristides, son of Artemidoros,
  15. in the short-course: Nikanor, son of Hermolaos.
  16. Of the neoi:
  17. with the bow: Dikaios, son of Nikostratos,
  18. with the javelin: Herakleon, son of Herakleon,
  19. [with the hollow shield: ……]s, son of Apollodoros,
  20. [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, Heracles = 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.


Thanks to Farhad Assar for clarifying the king's title's.

This page was created in 2006; last modified on 4 October 2020.