Among Eretria's most famous inscriptions is the contract the city negotiated ca. 315 with the foreign businessman Chairephanes for the drainage of Lake Ptechai. This inscription has long been in the Epigraphic Museum of Athens along with a remarkable treaty (which used to stand at Amarynthos) concluded between Eretria and the city of Histiaea (northern Euboea) ca. 400 BC.
A law against tyranny proves to be the oldest Greek document of this type engraved on stone; it can be dated very precisely to the year 341-340, whereas the Athenian law known as the law of Eukrates, which is, along with its relief, one of the principal curiosities of the Museum of the Agora in Athens, goes back no further than 337-336.
Several Eretrian inscriptions belong to the category of religious laws, that is, regulations relating to the institution of a cult or the organization of a festival. This is the case for a law on the Artemisia of Amarynthos (ca. 340 BC) as well as for a decree concerning the Dionysia at a crucial date in the history of the city (probably ca. 285 BC, and not, as was formerly thought, in 309).
Another Eretrian law -but unquestionably of federal character, for it is a document concerning the responsibility of the Koinon of the island's four cities -enumerates in great detail the rights and duties of the Dionysian technites to be hired in order to enhance the splendor of the annual festivals in honor of Dionysos and Demeter.
Finally, let us mention that if most of the inscriptions that come from the city of Eretria were exhibited in that city or its territory, there were also some (particularly decrees for foreign judges) that were erected in foreign cities (for example, in Oropos, Miletos, Kos, and Magnesia on the Meander).
On the other hand, it is important to note that elsewhere in the Greek world -and not necessarily in the regions closest to Euboea- inscriptions mentioning Eretria and the Eretrians (or at least an Eretrian who had died abroad) have been found in Olympia, Delphi, Boeotia, the Cyclades, as well as in Asia Minor and in Egypt. These documents are, of course, particularly numerous in Athens. Thus our documentation may be enriched not only by local discoveries but also by random discoveries made at any other place in the eastern Mediterranean!
by Denis Knoepfler