The Hellenic World and the East

IHR's eastern program, founded in 1980, is the oldest and leading Greek institutional initiative for the interdisciplinary study of the contacts of ancient Hellenism with the Near East, one of the most fascinating and rapidly-evolving fields of research on the history of the ancient world.

Our projects focus on ancient East-West interactions, as these are expressed in texts, both literary and epigraphic, coinage, art/architecture, and the remains of material culture, in particular in the regions of Palestine, Arabia and the Sinai, the Aegean and Asia Minor, Cyprus and Iran. They aim at the systematic development of research resources (archives, corpora) and the production of synthetic studies.
The larger questions that guide our approach are those of:

  • the transmission of ideas, customs, practices, institutions and knowledge among cultures
  • the evolution and transformation of cultural self-definitions in the cosmopolitan environments of the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East
  • the role of the 'universal' states of the Achaemenids, Alexander and the Successors, Rome, and the Sasanians as catalysts for the ongoing dialogue and cross-fertilization between the Greco-Roman and Eastern worlds



The Program started out in 1980 as the Palestine Program, concerned with the history, archaeology and epigraphy of Palestine, Arabia and the Sinai peninsula in the Roman/Early Byzantine periods. Directed by Y. Meimaris, the Palestine Program was joined in 1985 by current member, K. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, and from 1987 to 1991 by P. Bougia.

The present, enlarged geographical and research scope of "The Hellenic World and the East" Program has emerged through gradual enrichment. In 2001 the Palestine Program and G. Fowden's project (since 1985) on the Greek and Roman East merged into a single Greek East Program headed, successively, by Y. Meimaris (2001-2008) and G. Fowden (2009-2013). New fields of study were added owing to the arrival, between 2003 and 2009, of new members with a specialization and interest in Asia Minor (C. Kokkinia), Syria (A. Bousdroukis), Cyprus (E. Markou, A. Zournatzi, and interested participation of former KERA Director, M.B. Hatzopoulos), the Achaemenid empire and the relations between the ancient Greek and ancient Iranian worlds (A. Zournatzi). We are few and the field is enormous, but we have already published significant contributions on the history of the several different areas of our researches.



Antigoni Zournatzi, Director of Research, Program Coordinator
Christina Kokkinia, Senior Researcher
Kalliope Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, Functional Senior Researcher
Evangeline Markou, Associate Researcher

Yiannis Meimaris: Emeritus Director of Research

Former members
Garth Fowden, Director of Research (1985-2013)
Apostolos Bousdroukis, Assistant Researcher (2009-2010)

Former research fellows and external research collaborators
Polyxeni Bougia, Elizabeth Key Fowden, Myrto Malouta


Ongoing Projects

  • The epigraphy, history and archaeology of Roman/Early Byzantine Palestine and Arabia, with emphasis on Third Palestine and particularly Zoora (present-day Ghor es-Safi in Jordan):
    • Jewish-Aramaic funerary inscriptions from Ghor es-Safi (Y.E. Meimaris and K. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou in conjunction with Dr. S. Brock, Oriental Institute, Oxford University)
    • History of Roman/Early Byzantine Zoora in the light of recent epigraphic and archaeological discoveries (K. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou)
    • Networks of mobility of craftsmen and iconographic motifs in the eastern Mediterranean in late antiquity: the case of the mosaicists of the provinces of Palestine and Arabia (K. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, within the frame of IHR's collective digital project, "Kyrtou plegmata", Action KREPIS)
  • Epigraphy, history and archaeology of the Lycian city of Boubon (C. Kokkinia)
  • Greek cities and Roman provincial governors in the epigraphy and literature of the High Roman Empire (1st-3rd cent. CE) (C. Kokkinia)
  • The army as a means of networking. The installation of veterans in Roman Thrace (C. Kokkinia, within the frame of IHR's collective digital project, "Kyrtou plegmata", Action KREPIS)
  • The Silver Coinage of the Kings of Cyprus: Numismatics and History in the Archaic and Classical Periods, 6th to 4th centuries BC ("SilCoinCy", Action ARISTEIA II) (E. Markou). Visit the research project’s website: Kyprios Character (
  • Volume XV of Inscriptiones Graecae. The coin legends of the Archaic and Classical period coinages of the Cypriot city-kingdoms will be included in the corpus of Cypriot-syllabic inscriptions of the first millennium BC (under the aegis of the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Université de la Sorbonne - Paris IV, Università degli Studi di Napoli Suor Orsola Benincasa, ΚΕRΑ) (Ε. Μarkou)
  • Coin circulation and economic networks in the eastern Mediterranean of the pre-Christian period (Ε. Markou, with C. Papageorgiadou, within the frame of IHR's collective digital project, "Kyrtou plegmata", Action KREPIS)
  • Achaemenid Persia and the West (A. Zournatzi), with a double focus on:
    • Persian perspectives on Cyprus
    • The impact of Persian rhetoric on sources for the emergence of the Persian empire
  • Greek-Iranian cultural encounters in the Iranian domain (ca. 550 BC - AD 651) (A. Zournatzi, within the frame of IHR's collective digital project, "Kyrtou plegmata", Action KREPIS)



Program members are regular contributors to international scientific journals, collective scientific volumes, and international conference proceedings (see, indicatively, individual member CVs). Fruits of our work so far are also the following corpora of inscriptions from Third Palestine and Boubon, synthetic studies in the form of monographs about the history, culture and coinage of the areas under study in the Program, and proceedings of the first international scientific conference on ancient Greek-Iranian relations that was jointly organized by Greeks and Iranians:

  • Fowden, G. Before and After Muhammad: The First Millennium Refocused (Princeton University Press, Princeton 2013)
  • Markou, M. L'or des rois de Chypre. Numismatique et histoire à l'époque classique (ΜΕΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 64, Athenes 2011) ("Prix Delepierre", 2012; "Prix Allier de Hauteroche", 2013)
  • Kokkinia, C. Boubon. The Inscriptions and Archaeological Remains. A Survey 2004-2006 (MEΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 60, Athens 2008)
  • Darbandi, S.M.R., Zournatzi, A. (eds.) Ancient Greece and Ancient Iran: Cross-Cultural Encounters. 1st Ιnternational Conference (Athens, 11-13 November 2006) (National Hellenic Research Foundation - Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO - Cultural Center of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Athens 2008) ("World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran", 2010)
  • Meimaris, Y.E., Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, K. Inscriptions from Palaestina Tertia, vol. Ib: The Greek Inscriptions from Ghor es-Safi (Byzantine Zoora) (Supplement), Khirbet Qazone and Feinan (MEΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 57, Αthens 2008)
  • Key Fowden, E., Fowden, G. Contextualizing Late Greek Philosophy (ΜΕΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 54, Athens 2008)
  • Zournatzi, A. Persian Rule in Cyprus: Sources, Problems, Perspectives (MEΛETHMATA 44, Athens 2005)
  • Meimaris, Y.E., Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, K. Inscriptions from Palaestina Tertia, vol. Ia: The Greek Inscriptions from Ghor es-Safi (Byzantine Zoora) (MEΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 41, Athens 2005) ("Prize of the Academy of Athens", 2006)
  • Fowden, G. Qusayr 'Amra: Art and the Umayyad Elite in Late Antique Syria (The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 36, University of California Press, Berkeley 2004)
  • Fowden G., Key-Fowden E. Studies on Hellenism, Christianity and the Umayyads (ΜΕΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 37, Athens 2004)
  • Fowden, G. Empire to Commonwealth: Consequences of Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Princeton 1993) (Transl. in Italian, Jouvence, Rome 1997)
  • Meimaris, Y.E. in collaboration with Kritikakou, K. and Bougia, P. Chronological Systems in Roman-Byzantine Palestine and Arabia: The Evidence of the Dated Greek Inscriptions (MEΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 17, Athens 1992)
  • Meimaris, Υ. The Monastery of Saint Euthymios the Great at Khan el-Ahmar, in the Wilderness of Judaea: Rescue Excavations and Basic Protection Measures, 1976-1979. Preliminary Report (Athens 1989)
  • Meimaris, Y.E. Sacred Names, Saints, Martyrs and Church Οfficials in the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Pertaining to the Christian Church of Palestine (ΜΕΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 2, Athens 1986)
  • Meimaris, Y.E. Κατάλογος τῶν Νέων Ἀραβικῶν Χειρογράφων τῆς Ἱερᾶς Μονῆς Ἁγίας Αἰκατερίνης τοῦ Ὄρους Σινᾶ [Catalogue of the New Arabic Manuscripts Found in the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine, Mount Sinai] (Athens 1985) (in Greek and Arabic)

Online publication



Program members participate in/coordinate European funded projects.

Τhanks to its geographical position and distinctive history, Greece has always maintained close relations with the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. Following this privileged tradition, within the frame of their international scholarly exchanges, the members of "The Hellenic World and the East" have also developed significant collaborations with local archaeological authorities and academic and research institutions in the regions covered by the Program.



The initial archive (and squeezes) of inscriptions from Palestine brought to the Program by founding researcher, Yiannis Meimaris, has expanded over the years into a substantial epigraphic collection, complete with a photographic and bibliographic archive, as well as a digital database of dated Greek inscriptions of Roman-Byzantine Palestine and Arabia.

More recent efforts for the development of research resources have focused, on the one hand, on collection of materials from the Cibyratis (northern Lycia) [partly available in open-access digital form, projects/boubon/introduction.asp]. On the other hand, they aim at the compilation of a digital archive of literary and archaeological evidence concerning ancient Greek-Iranian interactions in Iran. The implementation of a part of this latter project is included within the frame of one of IHR's web-based projects (Action KREPIS).


Prizes - Distinctions

  • Association Internationale d'Épigraphie Grecque et Latine (AIEGL) []
    Appointment of C. Kokkinia as member of the Committee of the Association, 2013
  • "Prix Allier de Hauteroche",  Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, 2013 and
    "Prix Delepierre", Association pour L'Encouragement des Études Grecques en France, 2012
    Awarded to E. Markou for the monograph L'or des rois de Chypre. Numismatique et histoire a l'époque classique (ΜΕΛΕΤΗΜΑΤΑ 64, Athènes 2011)
  • "World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran", 2010
    Awarded to S.M.R. Darbandi and A. Zournatzi for the organization, and publication of the proceedings, of the 1st International Conference “Ancient Greece and Ancient Iran: Cross-Cultural Encounters”, NHRF, 11-13 November 2006 (National Hellenic Research Foundation - Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO - Cultural Center of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Athens 2008)
  • "Prize of the Academy of Athens in Letters and Fine Arts", 2006
    Awarded to Y.E. Meimaris and K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou for the corpus Inscriptions from Palaestina Tertia, vol. Ia. The Greek Inscriptions from Ghor es-Safi (Byzantine Zoora) (MEΛETHMATA 41, Athens 2005)












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