A Dated Inscription from Beth Shean and the Cult of Dionysos Ktistes in Roman Scythopolis

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Leah Di Segni


This paper explores the antiquity of the cult of Dionysus in Beth Shean-Nysa Scythopolis in his character of city founder (ktirstes). While the cult may well go back to the Ptolemaic foundation of the city, the ktistes element, first attested by Pliny as an aetiological myth connected to the settling of Scythians and to the god’s nurse Nysa, is not documented in inscriptions or coins before the mid-second century, when it appears on an altar dedicated to Dionysos ktistes in 141/2, and the nurse element is first attested by a coin issued under Septimius Severus. Cults of founding gods appear in many cities, especially in Asia Minor, in the second century CE, apparently in correlation with the imperial cult.

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