Ancient Greek names are an important resource for the historian of the ancient Mediterranean world. They may reveal where people came from; they show what gods were popular at a given time; they can express political ideals; they illuminate cultural contact in the many regions outside Greece where Greek became the dominant language.
The Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN) traces every bearer of every name, drawing on a huge variety of evidence, from personal tombstones, dedications, works of art, to civic decrees, treaties, citizen-lists, artefacts, graffiti etc.: in other words, from all Greek literary sources, documentary sources (inscriptions and papyri), coins, and artefacts. Because it records not just every name but every bearer of each name, it can be seen as the closest equivalent to a telephone directory of all parts of the ancient world where Greek was the main language of written record, and covering every region where Greek came to be spoken or written from Marseilles to India, from the late 8th c BCE to about 600 CE. The result: almost 400,000 ancient Greeks listed regionally in eight volumes, which cover the whole Greek world from Italy and Sicily to Anatolia; a ninth volume on Syria, Arabia and regions further East will soon be in press, and two more on Egypt are planned (one already in preparation) to complete the series.
The project was a pioneer in the field of Digital Humanities, and the website permits sophisticated searches of the database as well as hosting features such as ‘Greek Names in English’; a searchable ‘linguistic extension’ (LGPN-Ling) is being prepared by Professor Sophie Minon of Paris which analyses the formation and meaning of every name.