What Are Some of the Main Uses of Epigraphy in Ancient Greece?

Epigraphy, the study of inscriptions, played a vital role in Ancient Greece. The Greeks used epigraphy to record historical events, honor the gods, and celebrate important figures. In this article, we will explore some of the main uses of epigraphy in Ancient Greece.

Honoring the Gods

The ancient Greeks were deeply religious and believed in a pantheon of gods and goddesses. They used epigraphy to honor these deities by inscribing their names on monuments, altars, and temples.

For example, the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis in Athens features an inscription that reads “Nike Apteros” or “Winged Victory.” This inscription was meant to honor Athena Nike, the goddess of victory.

Recording Historical Events

Epigraphy was also used to record historical events in Ancient Greece. Inscriptions were often placed on public buildings or monuments to commemorate significant events such as military victories or the construction of important buildings. For example, an inscription found on a column at Delphi records a victory by the city-state of Athens over Persia in 478 BCE.

Fun Fact:

The Battle of Marathon is one of the most famous battles in Ancient Greek history. A runner named Pheidippides was sent from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Greeks had defeated the Persians. This is where we get the modern-day marathon race!

Celebrating Important Figures

Epigraphy was also used to celebrate important figures in Ancient Greece such as politicians, athletes, and artists. Inscriptions were often placed on statues or other monuments dedicated to these individuals. For example, at Olympia (the site of the ancient Olympic Games), there is an inscription that honors an athlete named Koroibos who won the first recorded Olympic Games in 776 BCE.

Fun Fact:

The ancient Olympic Games were held every four years in Olympia from 776 BCE to 393 CE. The games were dedicated to Zeus and were a way for the Greeks to celebrate their physical prowess and honor the gods.


In conclusion, epigraphy played a crucial role in Ancient Greece. It was used to honor the gods, record historical events, and celebrate important figures. Epigraphy allows us to gain insight into the beliefs, values, and culture of Ancient Greece and helps us understand their legacy.