Ancient Greek Crossword Puzzle Discovered in Smyrna

Greece, Olympia, Ancient writing on stone

An ancient crossword puzzle has been found, etched onto the walls of a Greek Orthodox church. The basilica on which the puzzle was found was built within the confines of an ancient agora of a settlement dating back 2,000-2,500 years in the region where Smyrna was later founded.

The puzzle contains top-to-bottom and left-to-right Greek words and looks like an acrostic with the same words defined running in both directions top to bottom and left to right in five columns.

The word found at the center of the puzzle is “LOGOS” that roughly translates to “word,” though this does not express its full meaning as it also related to thought and speech and could also be used to refer to the “word of God.” Experts working in the area also say that it may have been used by an early Greek Christian group to communicate with each other during times of oppression though it was difficult to draw meaning from the puzzle due to the fact that there are some “meaningless names” interwoven into it. Associate Professor Akin Ersoy, head of the excavations, says that the words are considered as belonging to a puzzle as there are benches in front of the wall paintings of the basilica where the graffiti was found.

Answering assumptions about the crossword being used by Christians to communicate against oppression by the Roman authorities, Professor Ersoy points out that the crossword — since it is exposed and therefore would have been easy to see — could have been a pastime among the sellers of the marketplace during their spare time.

Ersoy said the ancient city which dates back 2,000-2,500 years was one of the most important harbor cities in antiquity. Numerous inscriptions on the walls have been found in the past ranging from descriptions of ships and paintings of gladiators to love poems.

During his work in the area, Ersoy found 3,000 letters, shapes, leaves, dogs and descriptions of ships and paintings of gladiators. He likens the graffiti to that of Pompeii. “In this region, Greek was spoken by intellectuals.”


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