Unknown language: inscription at İzmir


Senior Member
Turkish, English
So a year and a half ago me and my family went sightseeing with a friend of my father's.

To the ruins of the Agora of Smyrna (modern day Izmir). As we were exploring the ancient town my sister could not help but step on some rubble, pose and ask me to take her picture. But as I was taking her picture something happened to catch my eye. It was a piece of some structure that seemed to have something inscribed on it. Thing is this inscription appears to be some sort of cuneiform-like script with wedge-marks and what not. Quite an unusual sight in Hellenic ruins. Curious I've spent this week trying to find any pictures of it that I took and upload them here in hopes that someone might figure out what on earth it says (that is to say if it's even readable).
(Despite being fully aware there's always the possibility that these are nothing more than marks left by some excavation tool. ( :( ) )
2175-min.JPG 2177-min.JPG 2176-min.JPG
Please note I have no clue regarding the proper orientation of the object, it may have been originally been positioned upside down or even vertically. Thanks in advance for taking your precious time to quench my curiosity.
  • shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    Nothing resembling language here in my opinion. They look like random gougings rather than deliberate marks.


    Senior Member
    Greetings all

    These are no "random gougings" (shawnee #2), but more likely graffiti.

    Photo 2 (in the collection) shows that this is a piece from a Graeco-Roman period building, and moreover more Roman than Greek: it is part of an arch or colonnade (Greeks never developed the technology of arch-construction). That dates the original building to somewhere later than BC 50, probably a good deal later (when Izmir/Smyrna was after all a flourishing port and cultural centre), I would guess 1st-2nd century AD.

    The "inscription" is clearly made into one surface of a block of otherwise well-finished masonry—which on other sides has been left roughly hewn. It must therefore have been made after the building was already ruined.

    It looks to me as if some of the "inscription" has been gouged out, rather roughly, at a later date than the original, as if to obliterate it.

    First impressions are that it is hopeless even to try to seek for a "language" here, until we have more exact knowledge of the building itself and its ruinous history.

    This looks like a tempting line of enquiry for Turkish Sherlocks...

    I'd love to follow it.



    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    On second thought the gougings are not that random, but I find the rather machine cut surface somewhat confusing.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Turkish, English
    BTW I just noticed this but there are 8 very straight strokes.

    In fact if you look at the first three you can see a patter that looks something like "I II III".

    The wedges on the other hand seem to be far more erratic in pattern. I'd just like to point out that there appear to be two arrows stacked upon one another pointing in opposite directions to the very right. Can anyone recall if they've ever seen such a bizarre pattern?
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