Historians have recently deciphered a 2000-year-old inscription carved into a monument in memory of Lukuyanus, a Roman-era jockey, in Beyşehir, a district in the central Turkish province of Konya. The inscription was found on a rock-carved monument next to a horse figure dedicated to the jockey.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Professor Hasan Bahar from the history department of Konya’s Selçuk University, said the monument, known by locals as “Horse Rock” was located near an ancient hippodrome in a region.

“Lukuyanus was a Roman jockey, and this structure here shows this was a place dedicated to horse racing and horse breeding. Hittites used to build monuments here in a tribute to the mountains they deemed holy and we believe horse racing was a dedication to those holy mountains as well in the Roman era,” he said.

The inscription, written in Greek, outlines the rules of horse racing. “There are horseracing rules on the tablet. It says that if a horse comes in first place in a race it cannot participate in other races, while another horse of the winning horse’s owner also cannot enter another race. In this way, others were given a chance to win. This was a beautiful rule, showing that unlike races in the modern world, races back then were based on gentlemanly conduct,” Bahar also said.

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Dr. Hasan Bahar points to inscription [Credit: Orhan Akkanat/Anadolu Agency]
The inscription detailing rules of ancient horse racing [Credit: Orhan Akkanat/Anadolu Agency]
The inscription detailing rules of ancient horse racing [Credit: Orhan Akkanat/Anadolu Agency]
The monument is located next to a rock-hewn burial chamber, a narrow space with an entrance where Lukuyanus was believed to have been buried. Though his remains have long gone, the inscription on the monument is still legible.

The inscription begins: ‘Lukuyanus The Warrior, Died Before Getting Married. He is Our Hero’, suggesting that he had died at a young age.

The monument is located on the eastern border of Pisidia, an ancient region stretching from the present-day Mediterranean city of Antalya to the Anatolian heartland.

Source: Anadolu Agency