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Pisidian Antioch, Turkey

May–August 1924

Director: David M. Robinson

Archaeologists had long been fascinated by the discovery of sixty fragments of a copy of the famous Res Gestae Divi Augusti at Antioch, a military base and eastern outpost of Roman civilization under the emperor Augustus. The original inscription had been set up in bronze in front of the mausoleum of the emperor Augustus in Rome to commemorate his noble deeds, but had been lost in the passage of time. The copy at Antioch of Pisidia had apparently been inscribed in stone in a prominent position in the ancient town to extol Augustus to his subjects in the eastern Roman Empire. The University expedition recovered some 200 additional fragments in 1924. In tracing the exact placement of the inscription, archaeologists also discovered the entrances to the temple area, the city square, enormous masses of sculptural and architectural fragments, and ruined Roman and early Christian buildings thought to have been brought down by successive earthquakes. They recovered a fine marble portrait head of Augustus, a cast of which is now at the Kelsey Museum. At the close of the season the staff uncovered a monumental gateway, about 50 meters wide and 13 meters high in the southwest part of the site and explored a stone aqueduct with many of its massive arches still standing.

The staff also dug numerous trial trenches at the nearby site of Sizma, but no ancient buildings were discovered. Heaps of slag, ashes, and refuse from the smelting of cinnabar in ancient times led Robinson to conclude that there may have been a prehistoric settlement of miners at the site. He also discovered many potsherds and some 30 hand-molded red, black, and brown vases, which he dated to approximately 2500 BCE.

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Books and Articles

Gazda, Elaine K., and Diana Y. Ng. Building a New Rome: The Imperial Colony of Pisidian Antioch (25 BC-AD 700). Kelsey Museum Publication 5. Ann Arbor: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 2011.

Harrer, G. A. “The Latin Inscription from Antioch.” American Journal of Archaeology 29, no. 4 (1925): 429–33.

Mitchell, Stephen, and Marc Waelkens. Pisidian Antioch: The Site and Its Monuments. London: Duckworth with the Classical Press of Wales, 1998.

Ossi, Adrian. “Architectural Reconstruction Drawings of Pisidian Antioch by Frederick J. Woodbridge.” Bulletin of the University of Michigan Museums of Art and Archaeology 16 (2005): 5–28.

———. “The Arch of Augustus at Pisidian Antioch: Reconstructing Archaeological Context through Digital Analysis of an Excavation Archive.” American Journal of Archaeology 120, no. 3 (2016): 411–46.

Robinson, David M. “A New Latin Economic Edict from Pisidian Antioch.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 55 (1924): 5–20.

———. “A Preliminary Report on the Excavations at Pisidian Antioch and at Sizma.” American Journal of Archaeology 28, no. 4 (1924): 435–44.

———. The Deeds of Augustus as Recorded on the Monumentum Antiochenum. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1926.

———. “The Discovery of a Prehistoric Site at Sizma.” American Journal of Archaeology 31, no. 1 (1927): 26–50.

———. “The Res Gestae Divi Augusti as Recorded on the Monumentum Antiochenum.” The American Journal of Philology 47, no. 1 (1926): 1–54.

Online Exhibition

Building a New Rome: The Imperial Colony of Pisidian Antioch (25 BC-AD 700), a Kelsey-sponsored exhibition at the Duderstadt center on the University of Michigan north campus, on view January 13–February 24, 2006.