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Pedon the Mercenary’s Votive Dedication

Nicolò Barbaro    Università Ca' Foscari Venezia    



In the Ionian city of Priene, in the first half of the 6th century BC, Pedon, son of Amphinneos, Greek mercenary at the service of the pharaohs of the 26th dynasty, dedicated an Egyptian block statue. It is not known if this statue was placed in a specific sanctuary, as it was found, in the late ’80s, in a cave near the same Priene. This block statue, headless and without feet and the base, according to some stylistic peculiarities, can be dated to the reign of Psammetichus I (664-610 BC), who hired Greek and Carian men, as mercenaries, to join and make his own kingdom stable. The inscription, which is on the front of the statue, is bustrophedic and consists of nine lines containing the typical formula of dedication and autobiographical references, as was typical in the use of this kind of sculpture by the Egyptians; on the last part of the inscription, Pedon mentions the pharaoh under whom he served as a mercenary, Psammetichus (Ψαμμήτιχος), and the particular gifts given to him by the pharaoh, a gold bracelet (ψίλιον τε χρύσεογ) and a city (πόλιν), attributable to some peculiarities of both Egyptian and Persian royal culture. A comparison of the paleographic characters dates instead this inscription to the reign of Psammetichus II (595-589 BC), fourth ruler of this dynasty, who also made great use of Greek mercenaries in his army, especially during an expedition in Nubia, which is known from the historical work of Herodotus and from the graffiti left by these Greeks to Abu Simbel. About the identity of the pharaoh mentioned in the inscription and the consequent dating of the same, numerous studies have been spent that have supported one or the other pharaoh, up to a final hypothesis that puts both theories in agreement: the mercenary Pedon would have served  Psammetichus I and, after buying this block statue, would have returned to Ionia, where he would have engraved the inscription and where centuries later the statue was found.

June 29, 2018
Dec. 27, 2017
March 5, 2017

Keywords: Statua-cuboAbu SimbelGreci in EgittoPrieneNubiaIoniaErodotoCariiPsammeticoMercenari

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Copyright: © 2018 Nicolò Barbaro. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.