IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica


This edition of the Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica 2020 (IRCyr2020) is being published to mark the 102nd birthday, on 18 December 2020, of Joyce Reynolds, of Newnham College Cambridge, the principal author. It would be misleading to describe this collection as complete. We are presenting everything available to us, including texts published up to 2012; for consistency, this includes a small number of texts published by other scholars. There will be other texts not yet published; there will be further illustrations and other data for the texts presented here. We would welcome further material for an eventual further edition; we hope that readers will feel free to download, republish and enhance these materials. But our principal intention is to enable others to benefit from Reynolds' work, and to stimulate and enable further study and understanding of Roman Cyrenaica.

In 1948 Joyce Reynolds was based at the British School at Rome (BSR), from where she started a series of regular visits to Libya, to study the inscriptions of the Roman period. She worked initially in Tripolitania: her epigraphic corpus, the Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania, written with John Ward-Perkins, was published in 1952, and an enhanced edition was published online in 2009.

The earlier history of study of the inscriptions of Cyrenaica has been set out by Catherine Dobias-Lalou, in the introduction to IGCyr. In 1951 Joyce Reynolds first visited the region, and since then she has collected and studied the inscriptions of the Roman period, working with local archaeologists and others from Italy, France, the U.K. and the U.S.A.; in particular she worked closely with Richard Goodchild (VIAF) until his death in 1968. She continued to visit Libya almost every year until 2008, and assembled materials for a corpus of over 2000 inscriptions from Roman Cyrenaica. Nearly a third of these have never previously been published, while others have only appeared in versions which can be very much improved, and better understood, as a result of re-reading.

The transcriptions of the texts were made and organised by Joyce Reynolds; in 2007 they were entrusted by her for publication to Gabriel Bodard, Charlotte Roueché and Hafed Walda. Bodard then oversaw the transfer of the texts online, in EpiDoc markup; this served as a training for many students (see Team). Further texts were added from publications by Reynolds. All the materials have been hosted and maintained by King's Digital Lab at King’s College London.

In 2008 an IRCyr team - Joyce Reynolds, Hafed Walda, Charlotte Tupman and Dorothy Thorn - visited Libya; they recorded valuable new data and Walda made an important collection of photographs. Reynolds had provided some 3000 photographs, taken by her or her colleagues particularly Elizabeth Rosenbaum-Alföldi (VIAF), given to her by excavators, or by the Libyan Department of Antiquities. These were digitised, again under the supervision of Gabriel Bodard. While some were clearly associated with the relevant texts, others were not. Once the texts were in digital form, and searchable, it became possible to identify many more photographs; several interns helped with this work, followed by Roueché. Pietro Liuzzo designed the resultant database. We have also received further photographs, particularly from Catherine Dobias-Lalou and the late Donald White.


A challenge which had been of concern to Reynolds for many years was the difficulty of providing accurate geodata for a country where such information was restricted on security grounds. The emergence in the 2000s of publicly available tools based on satellite imagery, such as Google Earth, transformed this, among many archaeological projects. To test the possibilities, the IRCyr team collaborated with Valerie Scott, of the British School at Rome, Dr Tom Elliott, of Pleiades, and with the Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg, in the Concordia project; they undertook to digitise Reynolds' earlier publication of the Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania. The BSR had already put the texts into digital form, and had digitised the important collection of accompanying images. The team transformed the text into EpiDoc; they made no editorial changes to the content, but Reynolds provided new English translations for all the texts. Walda undertook the mapping, and provided co-ordinates for all the locations, which could then be mapped onto Google Earth.

The resultant resource was published in 2009, Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania (2009), and received with enthusiasm, particularly in Libya, where it was presented in Tripoli in May 2010. Later that year the IRCyr team was approached by the group responsible for French archaeology in Libya, then led by Professor André Laronde (VIAF); their epigrapher, Professor Catherine Dobias-Lalou, was preparing the publication of the Greek inscriptions of Cyrenaica from the pre-Roman period, and of the verse inscriptions. Dobias-Lalou and Reynolds had collaborated for many years; it was agreed that Dobias-Lalou, with the support of a team at Bologna, would publish her collection, including all the verse inscriptions, online, online in EpiDoc, using the same standards as those being used for IRCyr. The corpus was published in 2017: Inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica and Greek Verse Inscriptions of Cyrenaica at


Walda had built a database for the geodata for the Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania; he went on to add equivalent data for the Cyrenaican texts. It became increasingly clear that this was producing a resource which was useful in its own right, and could record other significant locations, providing Unique Identifiers and multiple toponyms. Roueché, aided by Valeria Vitale, added information from Geonames, Pleiades, and from specialist sources, such as the Archeological Guides by Philip Kenrick. Neil Jakeman (ORCID), of King's Digital Laboratory, created an interface which allowed the publication, in 2016, of the Heritage Gazetteer of Libya; data continue to be added by volunteers.


A characteristic aspect of inscriptions in Cyrenaica is that they very frequently contain a detailed calendar date. In 2017 we started a discussion with colleagues about how to contribute this data to a Gazetteer of dates, where information about a specific date could be collected: conversion to its Julian or Gregorian form, and an indication of documents containing that particular date. Frank Grieshaber of Heidelberg (ORCID), working with us and with Mark Depauw (ORCID), put forward a proposal to the Mellon Foundation, which was approved in 2018. The resultant database, GODOT, is available at; at present it draws on the documents in IRCyr, on inscriptions in the Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg, and in a large collection of papyri. It is our hope that other scholars will both contribute to and benefit from this resource.


The appearance at the end of 2017 of the open source EFES publication platform has opened new possibilities for the open and sustainable publication of a digital epigraphic corpus such as IRCyr. While EFES is based on the Kiln platform developed for publication of TEI XML projects at the Department of Digital Humanities and King’s Digital Lab, which is used for several EpiDoc corpora, the game-changing features of EFES are its focus on EpiDoc XML and inclusion of epigraphic indices by default, and its adoption by the EpiDoc development community.

The EpiDoc Front-End Services tool (EFES) was designed to fill the important need for a publication solution for researchers and editors who have produced EpiDoc-encoded texts but do not necessarily have access to digital humanities support or a well-funded IT service to produce a bespoke Web publication for them. The EFES development team, led by Bodard, comprised Polina Yordanova (customisation, testing, training and documentation) and Jamie Norrish (software development), and the tool was further tested and developed by several collaborators from other projects, including Martina Filosa (ORCID), Tamara Kalkhitashvili, Alessio Sopracasa (ORCID), Simona Stoyanova and Irene Vagionakis. EFES can be deployed with a minimum of technical skill, and may also be customised with a wide variety of display, index and search features, either from the EpiDoc toolkit, or custom built for the individual project.

EFES is now the basis for the IRCyr digital publication, which means that it is compatible and consistent with other EpiDoc publications, and especially future instalments of the Inscriptions of Libya corpus. The use of standard indices, search facets, and authority lists of terms such as monument types, symbols and lists of people and places will enhance cross-corpus interoperability, and enable integration with large multinational projects such as the EAGLE Network and Planned future developments in EFES, including built-in geographic visualisation, date and time search, and Linked Open Data export functionality, will easily be adopted into the IRCyr instance of the platform, and offer new features to Inscriptions of Libya projects. It is our intention to develop increasing interoperability and cross-searchability between all the projects.


In 2018 a grant from the Society for Libyan Studies enabled Simona Stoyanova to set up an EFES edition of the Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica. Working with EFES allowed Roueché to further refine the analysis of the original collection of texts: filling lacunae, identifying duplicates, and enriching the bibliography. It also allowed her to share the material with others, most importantly with Catherine Dobias-Lalou, who, with her profound knowledge of the texts and of the sites, has made a crucial contribution to this edition. We have received further help from Hugues Berthelot, from Denis Feissel (for the Edict of Anastasius) and Benet Salway (for Diocletian’s Price Edict); we are very grateful for translations of two texts into French by Hugues Berthelot and several texts into Arabic by Muna Abdelhamed; we very much hope that there will be more translations, particularly into Arabic. We have provided an array of indices; the index of persons is related to entries in the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, which were themselves largely contributed by Joyce Reynolds; but it is only provisional, awaiting the publication of the Prosopography of Cyrenaica started by André Laronde and being completed by Hugues Berthelot.


The project began in 2008 at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College London, then headed by Harold Short; in 2015 it migrated to King's Digital Lab where it is currently under Service Level Agreement: see for this provision. Throughout the history of the project it has been generously supported by a range of colleagues; in particular Miguel Vieira and Jamie Norrish are the architects and developers of Kiln, which forms the basis for EFES; Neil Jakeman created the Heritage Gazetteer; Ginestra Ferraro advised on the design; Tim Watts has helped curate the images; Brian Maher provided regular technical guidance.

This therefore is the account not just of a publication, but of a project, only made possible by the generous provision of skills and guidance from a wide range of experts. For further details of contributors see Team.