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Oldest Rental Agreement in Teos

The 2200 year-old inscription found during the excavations in Teos ancient city has meant to be the most detailed lease contract in Anatolia. The inscription includes the provisions against the misuse of the buildings recalled in the contract.

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Adak, The Head of Ancient Languages and Cultures Section at Akdeniz University stated that Teos was founded B.C. 1100 and became one of the leading cities of Ionia. Adak said: “Herodot mentiones Teos having mildest climate of the world. The ancient city is now located in Seferihisar borders. Some excavations made during 1960’s, but the latest excavations starting from 2010, are being made by Prof. Dr. Musa Kadioglu, The Academia at the Archeology Science Section at Ankara University.

A rental agreement 

Adak said: “Among the inscriptions, one is especially interesting. An agreement was made between the students of 20-30 ages of the Gymnasium, who was called Neos and a person, who donated his land, which included structures, slaves and the holy altar.  In order to meet the expenses of this land and to get income, the Neos rented the land to someone else. The inscription tells us who owned the land in the past and what it includes. It also mentions a holy altar. The Neos stated in the agreement that they want to use this holy place three days a year. But since the land was defined ‘holy,’ it was excluded from tax. It seems that the land was rented by auction and the name of the renter is written on the inscription.”

“A guarantor was needed for the agreement. The names of the renter and his father were written in the agreement. Six witnesses were also necessary for this agreement to be valid, three of whom were the high officers of the city,” he added.

Punishments 

“Almost half of the inscription is filled with punishment forms. If the renter damages the land, fail to pay the annual rent or repair fees, he will be punished. The Neos also vow to inspect the land every year,” said the Akdeniz University professor.

“There are two particularly interesting legal terms used in the inscription, which large dictionaries have not up to now included. Ancient writers and legal documents should be examined in order to understand these words mean,” Adak said.

Social life and judicial system 

The head of the Teos excavations, Musa Kadioglu, said the inscriptions provide information about the social life and judicial system of Teos in the Hellenistic era.

One of the 12 Ionian cities, Teos was examined by the British Society of Dilettanti in 1764, 1765 and 1862, by the French in 1924 and 1925 and by Ankara University academics Yusuf Boysal and Baki Ogun between 1962 and 1967, said Kadioglu.

The poets Anakreon, Antimakhos, Epikuros, Nausiphanes and Apellikon, the historian Hekataios were important philosophers and artists who lived in Teos.