The Inscription Archive is an important part of the Lampakis Family Archives. It was given to the author by Mr Ioannis-Nikolaos Lampakis, who also covered the cost of its completion. The academic oversight of the collaboration, which began in 1999 and was completed in 2008 with a short—approximately two-year (2004-2006)—hiatus, was undertaken by the Professor (now Emeritus) of Byzantine Archaeology at Athens University, Mrs. Sofia Kalopisi-Verti. Over the course of this collaboration, all 607 inscriptions were recorded in a database designed especially for that purpose.
The Inscription Archive is a collection of fifteen hand-written volumes into which George Lampakis (1854-1914) copied various inscriptions from churches and other sites he visited with a view to their subsequent publication. Lampakis did go on to publish a number of the inscriptions in the Christian Archaeological Society Bulletin during its initial run (1892-1911), primarily in volumes I (1892) to X (1911), the majority of which he compiled himself.
The 607 inscriptions in the Archive are wide-ranging both chronologically—from the Early Christian era to the late post-Byzantine period—and geographically—covering the territories of what is now the Greek mainland, the Greek islands, Asia Minor, Sicily and other places Georgios Lampakis had the opportunity to tour in his position as Queen Olga’s private secretary. Lampakis had divided the fifteen hand-written volumes in his Archive into the following six categories:
1) The Christian Inscriptions are divided between four volumes (Vol. I: 1-65, Vol II: 66-103, Vol. III: 104-143 and Vol. IV: 144-189). This category includes 189 inscriptions, roughly one third of those recorded in the Archive. We can posit that Georgios Lampakis must have started recording the inscriptions shortly after the founding of the Christian Archaeological Society on 23 December 1884, for a few months later, on 26 September 1885, Lampakis, who was in Chalkida at the time, had already started work on the second volume of Christian Inscriptions as a hand-written note at the start of the volume informs us (“In Chalkida on September 26, 1885”).
2) The Stylus Inscriptions are divided between three volumes (Vol. I: 1-56, Vol. II: 57-97 and Vol. III: 98-110). As a hand-written note at the start of the first volume informs us, G.L. Began collecting these on “1 September 86”.
3) In parallel with the engraved inscriptions, on 1 September 1886, Lampakis also began to record inscriptions from icons and wall-paintings. The Inscriptions from icons and frescoes, as he entitled them, are divided between three volumes (Vol. I: 1-46, Vol. II: 47-75 and Vol. III: 76-101).
4) On the same day, 01 September 1886, he also began to record the inscriptions on relics. The Inscriptions on Relics are described in just one volume (Vol. I: 1-42). Just 42 in number, they were copied from chalices, gospels, embroidered robes, crosses and other objects apart from icons, the inscriptions on which are described in the aforementioned category.
5) The Christian Tomb Inscriptions form a separate category and are divided between two volumes (Vol. I: 1-72 and Vol. II: 73-113). We do not have precise dates for their collection, but we can assume that they were recorded over 1885-1887, which is to say almost in parallel with the other categories of inscriptions.
6) The Christian Inscriptions in the Palermo Museum are recorded in a volume of their own. Ultimately named Inscriptions from Sicily, this category contains 40 inscriptions from the church of Martorana, the Cappella Palatina, the Catania Museum and other parts of Sicily. Most of the inscriptions are from tombs; although they include the name of the deceased there are usually no dates.
Lampakis provides no hints as when the Inscriptions from Sicily volume was compiled. However, it doesn’t seem unlikely that the inscriptions were recorded shortly before the middle of 1885, during a visit to Sicily on the invitation of the Marquess of Bute, an English nobleman who also funded the journey and would later finance the publication of his book on Daphne Monastery (1889).
The Inscription Archive, like George Lampakis’ work in its entirety, reveals the care, concern and zeal with which the Byzantinist set about conserving Greece’s cultural heritage. All the trips he made, the photographs he took, the copies he made and the studies he wrote, all his correspondence with important figures of the age, were engaged in for a single purpose: to preserve the Christian past. This imbues the now-completed study of the Inscription Archive with singular significance for contemporary students of the Byzantine and—still more—the post-Byzantine period. This significance is magnified still further by the possible destruction or loss during the 20th century of some of the monuments, mobile and not, which bore the inscriptions George Lampakis copied.
Dr Georgios D. Tsiboukis
Archaeologist, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports