This article seeks to identify the predecessors to the 5th- and 4th-century Athenian “documentary” stele in its classic form—upright, oblong, taller-than-wide, thin—and how this change in form occurred. There appear to be multiple interrelated origins that range from stone turning posts inscribed and dedicated after the expansion of the Panathenaia in 566 b.c., laws on wooden kurbeis (κύρβεις), stone posts that combined characteristics of stone votives and these kurbeis, reused metopes inscribed with laws, and the Marathon casualty monuments and their successors, where the final widening and thinning of posts can be postulated. It is argued that the development of the oblong documentary stele in Athens, although gradual, was marked by sudden bursts of creative change and selective adaptation.