The Araxa Honorary Decree for Orthagoras: Dating and Historical Context

In 1946, George Ewart Bean discovered a large stone at the site of the ancient city of Araxa in the village of Ören, Fethiye district, Turkey.[1] It contained a Hellenistic honorary decree for one of Araxa’s premier citizens, Orthagoras. Since Bean published this inscription, it has become a primary tool for understanding, dating, and describing the events and processes that characterized the region of Lycia in the 2nd century B.C. However, the date of this inscription has become a matter of bitter scholarly debate for almost 75 years. The Orthagoras decree has been used for characterizing and dating, among other things, the creation of the Cibyran Tetrapolis,[2] other agreements between Hellenistic polities,[3] and the different phases of the Rhodian-Lycian Wars in the 180s and 170s B.C.[4] However, the lack of a generally agreed upon date potentially jeopardizes the validity of these arguments. The present lack of a scholarly consensus and of a recent study of the inscription outside of longer researches on Lycian history and society necessitate the creation of a paper that confronts the diverse approaches and arguments on the topic. In this paper, I outline the different mechanisms that are used to date this inscription, discuss their relevance, and argue for placing the date of this inscription in the late 160s and early 150s B.C. This paper was conceived off an completed as my first junior paper for the Classics Department at Princeton University and was completed in Fall 2020 under the supervision of Professor Marc Domingo Gygax. The paper was subsequently presented at the 2021 Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium and published in the second volume of the Richard Macksey Journal of Johns Hopkins University. To read the full version of this paper, click on the button below.

[1] George Ewart Bean, “Notes and Inscriptions from Lycia,” Journal of Hellenistic Studies 68 (1948): 40–58.

[2] Malcolm Errington, “Θεὰ Ῥώμη und römischer Einfluß südlich des Mäanders im 2. Jh. v. Chr,” Chiron 17 (1987): 97–118.

[3] Christian Le Roy, “Une convention entre cités en Lycie du Nord,” Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 140–3 (1996): 961–980.

[4] Martin Zimmermann. “Bemerkungen zur rhodischen Vorherrschaft in Lykien (189/88–167 v. Chr.).“ Klio 75 (Jan. 1, 1993): 110–130.