The Lycians and their Tombs: Lycian Funerary Monuments as Representations of Social Affiliation and Individuality

Birgit Christiansen, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich

Based on my research as part of the University of Vienna’s interdisciplinary “Corpus of Lycian inscriptions” project, my paper focuses on Lycian funerary culture during the Dynastic period (6th to 4th centuries BC). Taking into account the different types of sepulchral monuments, their formal principles and the existence of reliefs and inscriptions, I will discuss in what way the Lycian funerary monuments represent social affiliation, social distance, and individuality. What choices did individuals and families make with respect to architectural, iconographic and epigraphic features of their tombs, and to what degree were these choices influenced by social structure? To what extent did they adapt and reshape elements of predominant civilizations like the Persians and the Greeks and what can we conclude from this in terms of acculturation and social distance? In this perspective I will pay particular attention to the inscriptions that some funerary monuments bear. I will outline how far the inscriptions contribute to our understanding of social groups, institutions, politics, religious beliefs and burial customs as well as to the significance of writing in Dynastic Lycian culture. In addressing the aforementioned questions I will also draw comparisions to other civilizations. In addition, I will briefly outline areas of future research in Lycian studies as well as perspectives for cross-cultural investigations.

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