Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum: 972


Greek text: IG_7.3073
Date:   late 3rd century B.C.
Tags:     buildings
Format:   see key to translations

When the Boeotian confederacy decided to build a large temple of Zeus Basileus at Lebadeia, they chose to display the contracts for the construction work on a 'wall of inscriptions', which was placed nearby. The best preserved inscription is translated here; it contains, in the first half, a contract for the engraving and mounting of the inscriptions, and in the second half, a contract for the laying of a floor of stone blocks. Despite the careful specifications, for some unknown reason the temple was never completed, although its ruins still survive.

It has not been possible to consult all the modern partial translations of this long inscription, but sections of varying length have been incorporated from the following:
  · R.K. Pitt, "Inscribing Construction: The Financing and Administration of Public Building in Greek Sanctuaries" ( )
  · R.K. Pitt, "Just as It Has Been Written: Inscribing Building Contracts at Lebadeia" ( )
  · A.N. Sherwood et al., "Greek and Roman Technology: A Sourcebook of Translated Greek and Roman Texts", no. 8.50 ( Google Books )
In French, there is a partial translation by M-C. Hellmann, "Choix d'Inscriptions Architecturales", no. 13 ( Persée ); and an earlier, complete translation by A. Choisy, "Un devis de travaux publics à Livadie" ( PDF ).

. . . the contractor shall pay interest of one-fifth on any of the work; and the naopoioi shall demand full payment of this, and of the additional cost of tendering, and if there is any other money owed out of the penalties in addition to this, from the contractor and the guarantors; if the naopoioi are unable to obtain payment, they shall record it on the tablet.

They shall let out all the work for payment in bronze money, the steles and the coping stones {thrinkoi} at whatever rate per stone they determine, and the contractor shall make the pedestals for the steles as a separate task. With respect to the foundation stones {pōroi}, he shall receive five drachmas for the cost of each stone, 10 however many he provides, and for the inscribing and encaustic painting of the letters, he shall receive a stater and three obols per thousand letters.

The contractor will work continuously within ten days of receiving the payment, working with craftsmen competent in the trade, not fewer than five. If in some way he does not comply with the things written in the specifications or should be convicted of bad practice in some way, he will be fined by the naopoioi according to whatever he seems to deserve for not doing the things written in the specifications, and if anyone else of the co-workers is convicted of bad practice in any respect, 20 let him be driven out of the job and no longer work with the others; if he does not comply, he too will be fined along with the contractor. If in any way during the work it should be useful for any measurement written down to be lengthened or shortened, he will do as we order.

Let the original guarantors and contractor not be released from the contract until the one buying the resold sections establishes worthy guarantors; regarding the work already completed, let the original guarantors stand until the final examination. 

Let the contractor not damage any of the existing works in the sanctuary; 30 but if he should damage anything, let him repair it at his own expense, in a satisfactory way within such time as the naopoioi order; and if any sound block should be spoiled during the work, the contractor for the setting will substitute another approved one at his own expense, not hindering the job; and the spoiled block he will take away out of the sanctuary within five days, and if not, the block will be sacred {i.e., confiscated}. If he does not substitute or repair the damage, the naopoioi will put this out to tender again, and whatever it may fetch, both this and a half as much again the contractor and the guarantors will pay. 40 But if any of the blocks should by nature be spoiled, let the contractor for the setting not be fined for this.

If the contractors disagree with each other about any of the things written, the naopoioi having sworn an oath at the project site will adjudicate among them, being more than half present, and let what they decide be authoritative. If the naopoioi cause a delay for the contractor in the provision of stones, then they will allow him extra time, for as long as they have delayed him.

After providing guarantors in accordance with the law, the contractor will receive the first payment, when he has set all the steles and the coping stones on top of them, for whatever sum he contracted, 50 with one-tenth deducted from the total. When he exhibits all the steles worked and true on all sides and finished according to the specifications and sealed with lead satisfactorily to the naopoioi and the architect, he will receive the second payment for all the letters of the inscription in accordance with the valuation on the basis of the number calculated from the copies, again with one-tenth deducted. When he has completed all the work, and it has been approved, he shall receive the one-tenth that was deducted, along with the cost of the foundation stones that he has set; and if he has inscribed any additional letters after receiving the payment, 60 he shall be paid for these too, at the same time as he receives the one-tenth, with the deduction of any penalties that have been imposed on him.

If any additional work needs to be done to facilitate the task, he will do it on the same basis, and he will be paid for the resulting extra cost, after demonstrating that the work is satisfactory. If the place, when it is cleared, is found to be soft ground he will put down in addition as many foundation stones as are necessary, and he will be paid for the resulting extra cost of this also, at the same time as he receives the one-tenth.

On top of the existing steles he will put eleven coping stones, after trimming the steles, taking as much as we order, according to the outline that is given to him. 70 He will remove the existing clamps in the steles, which protrude and hinder him in the trimming, and by drilling more deeply he will fit them back and will seal them around with lead. He will put dowels and clamps also on these stones, and he will seal them around with lead;  and he will work everything exactly as it has been written above about the other things.

We will let out the work on these coping stones, the six-foot and five-foot ones, for the same price that the other stones get; as for the three-foot stones, four in number, we will reckon that two of them are equivalent to a coping stone. The contractor will receive payment for these coping stones, when he has demonstrated that the steles are worked and in place and sealed with lead, 80 and that the coping stones have been put above them and fastened at the top; he will receive the payment for these stones, also with one-tenth deducted, just as has been written about the work above. When he has fitted the coping stones together and has demonstrated that they are in place, sealed with lead, completed, fastened at the top, and aligned with each other in a satisfactory way, then he will cleanse the steles with nitron and render the letters clean and wash them thoroughly for as long as we order.

The other things, that are not specified in this contract, shall be done in accordance with the law concerning the overseers { katoptai } and the law concerning the naopoioi.


For the temple of Zeus Basileus. 90 For the peristyle outside the cella: the dressing and setting of the floor blocks for the long side.

The contractor appointed by the naopoioi for the dressing and setting of the floor blocks of hard Lebadeian stone in the temple of Zeus Basileus, in the peristyle outside the cella, on the long side of the area facing to the south.

Number: 13 blocks. Measurements of these will be the length, breadth and thickness following those in the long sides that are finished, and against which these will be set. 

Having received the stones 100 beside the temple where they have been approved as sound and having the proper measurements for finishing to the stipulated size, the contractor, using a close-toothed, sharpened chisel, will first work the under-faces on the bases of all the stones until true, without distortion, unfractured, and tested with minium, so that everything rests upon the supporting stones and the levelling course {hypeuthynteria}, not less than two feet from the front edge.

Using a coarse-toothed chisel he will dress the middle contact-faces so that everything will adhere to a continuous straight-edge no shorter than the length of the stone being worked upon. The straight-edge's width is not to be less than six fingers, its height not less than ½ foot.

110 And he is to undercut from the under-face of all the floor blocks that part resting upon the levelling course, the determination of width and depth from the side-facing, working the trimmed surfaces as is written above concerning the under-sides and making no larger margin than a small finger in the undercut along the levelling course.

He will also finish all the side-faces of the floor blocks, tested with minium, true, without distortion, unfractured, vertical, at right angles to one another according to the mason's square; using a smooth, sharp broad-bladed chisel and testing with minium he will make solid joins over at least nine fingers around three sides of the face. 120 Using coarse-toothed chisels, the middle contact face will be worked, and he is to finely abrade {anathyrosize} all the edges of the side-faces with true rubbing stone, testing with minium and rubbing true all the rubbing stones as often as we may order by verifying according to the true [rubbing stone] standard gauge in the sacred enclosure.

He shall also finish off the side-faces of the floor blocks, which are in position and finished, against which [he will set the 13 new blocks]. Having stretched out the cord on the upper side . . .   . . . in a straight line from the left and in the vestibule from the long side, 130 and having marked off the lines in the [presence] of the architect, he is to remove the surplus stone using a pitching tool, making the width the one given by the building, making [all the stones] true, sharp-angled, and he is to test the edge of all those 13 placed floor blocks with minium against a long [straight-edge] of not less than 20 feet. Thickness of the straight-edge: six fingers; height: ½ foot; and making the minium test with a smooth, sharp pitching tool, making the stones true, without flaw, tested with minium over a depth of not less than [nine] fingers, after first having incised guides along the [joints] on each of the stones vertically according to the mason's square and according to the marked-off line 140 along which he is to finely finish the smoothing; and he shall also finely finish the line in the prodomos in a similar manner.

Then he will finely abrade the joints of the paving blocks lying in position [according to the] stone rule against which he intends to set, exactly as it has been written concerning the block [faces]. When he intends to set the stones, [he will first trim] the supports at the top and the levelling course, trimming the supports using a close-toothed chisel, well-whetted, and the levelling course using an evenly pointed chisel, in line with those that have been laid and completed, and he shall demonstrate that they have been trimmed suitably.

150 Then he will set the paving blocks, working exactly as it has been written, starting the laying on the left, as is indicated to him, then around the joint, inserting a wedge-shaped . . ., going at the top of those that have [been laid] and finished.

And he will use for all the rules pure olive oil and Sinopian minium; if he does not use Sinopian minium or pure olive oil, he will be fined by the naopoioi and the boeotarchs, and [no] block will be closed tight by him until he exhibits to the naopoioi that he is [using] approved Sinopian minium and pure olive oil; and he will exhibit the work and the setting 160 to the architect, and to the sub-architect the joints of all the blocks and the bases, at once rubbing the bases with the aid of young green olive oil, the blocks having gone into their own places, whole, without moving, faultless, with nothing remaining underneath, rubbing together evenly, and pounding thoroughly the things required for the abrasives {trimmata}: the parts going onto the joists using the powder from the close-toothed chisel, well-whetted and the parts going on the levelling course using the powder from the evenly pointed chisel; rubbing secondly the side faces with the aid of olive oil and stone powder from the smooth finishing chisel, well-whetted. When he completes a joint, having cleansed it with nitron, and having washed it with clean water, then let him close it tight. 170 The insertion of the dowels and the [clamps] and the dovetails, the weight of these, and all the pouring around of lead, the contractor will personally exhibit to the naopoioi; let him close tight nothing unexhibited; if he closes up anything tight, taking it up [again] he will do it over from the beginning;  and he shall be fined by the naopoioi and the boeotarchs whatever penalty he seems to deserve for not doing some of what was prescribed; and if any of those men working with the contractor is convicted of poor workmanship, let him be expelled from the job and no longer take part in the work; but if he does not obey, he will be fined, together with the contractor also. And he will not seal any of the stones with lead, 180 until he has done what is prescribed.

If in any way during the work it should be useful for any measurement written down to be lengthened or shortened, he will do as we order. When he sets all the paving blocks together, he shall trim them at the top in line with those that have been laid and finished, and he shall test them properly with minium using a toothed chisel against a long straight-edge, chiselling around all of them, using a rule to keep them level with the existing surface of the floor blocks at the top, preparing blocks of dry wild-olive wood, and making them straight and coated with minium.

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