Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

An expanding collection of inscriptions, papyri, and other sources in translation (run by Philip A. Harland)

[54] Grave of a Society Member with a Relief of a Cart drawn by Donkeys (159/160 CE) Thessalonike - Macedonia

Thessalonike (Macedonia, Greece and Macedonia — Pleiades map), 159/160 CE
AGRW 54 = Nigdelis 2012, no. 27 = NewDocs IV, p. 215 (no. 17) = SEG 60 (2010), no. 665 = PHI 150313 = AGRW ID# 2439


Slab of marble with a decorated triangular top (pediment with acroteria and acanthus leaves in the center), now in the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum (inv. no. Μθ 10771). The relief above the inscription depicts a man on a donkey-driven cart. The inscription seems to involve an association of transport professionals devoted to Heron Aulonites, who protected those who crossed narrow passages.

Crescens. Year 191. The society (synētheia) of Heron Aulonites set this up for Gaius Julius Crescens. The associates of the head of the synagogue (archisynagōgos), Artemon the yoke-maker, and the priest, Tryphon, paid for this from what comes from the common chest as a memorial for him.

Translation by: Ascough and Kloppenborg

Κρήσκης. | ἔτους αϟρʹ σεβαστοῦ | ἡ συνήθια Ἥρωνος | Αὐλωνίτου Γ(αΐῳ) Ἰουλίῳ || Κρήσκεντι οἱ περὶ ἀρχ<ι>|συνάγωγον Ἀρτέμω|να ζυγοποιὸν ἱερῆ | Τρύφωνα τὰ ἐκ τοῦ | γλωσσοκόμου γινό||μενα αὐτῷ μνίας | χάριν.

AGRW 54: Grave with a Relief of a Donkey and Cart
© Richard S. Ascough 2012.

Item added: August 11, 2012
Item modified: June 18, 2016
ID number: 2439
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  • Gail Brownrigg says:
    June 11, 2016 / Reply

    The relief shows a wagon drawn by a pair of mules.
    [Carts have 2 wheels, wagons have 4]. The animals are likely to be mules rather than donkeys (see the horse-like tail).

    • Richard says:
      June 18, 2016 / Reply

      Thanks for your observations Gail. I don’t have a lot of experience with donkeys and mules, but I thought mules had thinner faces, which is why I lean towards the animals being donkeys (and yes, there are two). As for the distinction between a cart and a wagon, it seems to me that there was a range of different Roman transport vehicles so perhaps we should nuance it even more carefully, but also that what we might call a wagon might have 2 or 4 wheels so in itself is no way to differentiate. I’m happy to be corrected, though, and would appreciate if you could recommend a resource.

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