Are there any extant ancient Greek inscriptions that exhibit all of the following features:

  • scriptio continua (i.e., majuscules letters only, no spaces between words, no diacritics, no punctuation marks)
  • omitting letters in order to represent elision (though without using apostrophes to represent this (contrary to what modern editions do))
  • normal majuscule iota letters placed where later Greek has iota subscripts or adscripts (i.e., ΑΙ, ΗΙ, and ΩΙ instead of ᾼ, ῌ, ῼ or Αι, Ηι, Ωι respectively).

For an example of the second feature, see "ΤΕΝΙ" below (the 26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th characters in the string of Greek characters below), which modern editions render "τ ' ἐνὶ".

For an example of the third feature, see "ΚΗΠΩΙ" below (right after "TENI"), which modern editions render "κήπῳ".

The reason I mention the third feature is that the first paragraph of Iota subscript - Wikipedia seems to be saying that those iotas which in the Hellenistic period began to be written as iota subscripts, in the classical period still had full value both in speech and orthography -- that is, Wikipedia seems to be saying that such iotas were written in the way I describe, at least in the classical period.

Another way of asking virtually the same question as the one I'm asking here would be: was there ever an ancient Greek inscription-writer who might plausibly have styled an inscription in the following way?


(The example is what you get when you render Iliad VIII.306-308 in the way I describe. See https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0134%3Abook%3D8%3Acard%3D292 for VIII.306-308.)

  • 3
    What exactly do you mean when you say "majuscule letters only"? For most of the history of written Greek there was no majuscule/miniscule distinction, but the handwritten forms they used weren't necessarily recognizable as our modern majuscule letters. Would those count?
    – Draconis
    Commented May 7 at 21:46

1 Answer 1


All these features you've mentioned not only can be found, but also they're pretty much default.

All ancient Greek inscriptions were written simply in a (rather than the, as there were several varieties) Greek alphabet, which resembled majuscule letters. But the majuscule/minuscule distinction arose much later and from writing on papyri, rather than on stone.

Some inscriptions might have some spaces or symbols periodically, but plenty do not have any extra-alphabetic markings at all. Apostrophes representing elision you might find in the papyri, but its strict adherence in a text is not ancient, and it is virtually absent from stone inscriptions (at least, I don't think I've seen one yet).

Finally, indeed iotas were written normally (iota adscript), not underneath (subscript). The iota subscript is actually Medieval, not ancient at all.

An example of all three can be found for free online in Hicks, Newton, Hirschfeld, and Marshall's The Collection of Ancient Greek Inscriptions in the British Museum, which can be found in the Internet Archive. I opened it up and chose the first one where I saw all three at play here.

Here's a drawing of the actual inscription:

enter image description here

Here's a transcription of the inscription following modern Greek conventions:

enter image description here

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