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E00989: A white marble reliquary with carvings and Greek inscriptions referring to the relics of an unidentifiable saint *K(- - -), and apparently also to four unnamed martyrs. Found at Sebasteia (Roman province of Armenia I, eastern Asia Minor). Probably 6th/7th c.

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posted on 14.12.2015, 00:00 by Bryan
An inscribed white marble reliquary (H. 0.42 m; W. 0.7 m), brought to Sivas (Sebasteia, Armenia I) from a nearby town or village (probably from Erzincan). The front face is decorated with a carving of a lamb standing in front of a cross. The lamb is flanked by two acanthi. One of the inscriptions runs around the edges of the reliquary, the others are inscribed on its sides.

Around the edges:

ἐπὶ | τοῦ ἁ|γιο(τάτου) ἐπ|ισκ|όπου | Θωμ|ᾶ ἐν | ἰνδ. | β΄, | μη(νὶ) Φ|εβρ|ουαρ(ίῳ) | κη΄, [...(?)] κ̣ατ|άθε|σις | τῶν | ἐνδ|όξω|ν λη<ψ>|άνω|ν τοῦ | ἁγίου ̣Κ(- - -)

'Under the most holy bishop Thomas in the 2nd indiction, in the month of February, on the 28th (day), the deposition of the glorious relics of Saint K(- - -).'

On the sides:

+ Λίψανα τῶ-
ν ἁγίον ̣δ΄ (?) μ(αρ)τύρ(ων)

perhaps ἁγίο<ν> ν̣δ΄ (?) μ(αρ)τύρ(ων) Schneider

'+ The relics of 4 (?) holy martyrs.'

Χριστιανῶν
τοῦτο τὸ σῆμα
ἐφ' ᾧ ὁ Χ(ριστὸ)ς λό-
γῳ ἐξετανύσθη

'This is the sign of Christians, on which Christ was stretched, according to the Word.'

Text: Schneider 1939.

History

Evidence ID

E00989

Saint Name

Saints, name wholly or largely lost : S01744 Konōn, gardener martyr in Magydos of Pamphylia : S00177 Konōn, martyr in Iconium of Lycaonia (central Asia Minor) : S00429 Konōn, martyr in Isauria (south-eastern Asia Minor) : S00430 Kyrikos, 3rd c. c

Saint Name in Source

οἱ ἅγιοι δ΄μάρτυρες Κ(- - -) Κ(- - -) Κ(- - -) Κ(- - -) Κ(- - -) οἱ ἅγιοι δ΄μάρτυρες οἱ ἅγιοι δ΄μάρτυρες οἱ ἅγιοι δ΄μάρτυρες

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Sebaste

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Sebaste Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Collections of multiple relics Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Reliquary – institutionally owned

Discussion

The reliquary bears three, probably unrelated, inscriptions. Two of them mention martyrs. The first is a classic account of the deposition (katathesis) of relics (for a similar record, see: E1300). It says that the relics of a male saint, whose name begins with kappa, were encapsulated in the reliquary on 28 February of an unidentifiable year, under an otherwise unattested bishop Thomas. Among popular Anatolian saints, we can suggest *Konon (Κόνων), one of three homonymous martyrs from central Asia Minor or *Kyrikos (Κύρικος), a child martyr of Tarsos, but of course other saints are also possible. For example, given the find-spot of the reliquary, the city of Sebasteia which was the hotbed of the cult of the Forty Martyrs, one can also consider Kyrion (Κυρίων), a prominent member of the group. The second reference is even more enigmatic. It is a simple label, engraved on a side of the reliquary. Schneider read it as + Λίψανα τῶν ἁγίον ̣δ΄ (?) μ(αρ)τύρ(ων) / '+ The relics of 4 holy martyrs', but as both letters Ν and Δ are underlined, he was also considering another reading: + Λίψανα τῶν ἁγίο<ν> ν̣δ΄ (?) μ(αρ)τύρ(ων) / '+ The relics of 54 (?) holy martyrs'. The latter option was, however, rejected by later commentators. François Halkin believed that the label referred to the famous *Forty Martyrs, whose cult had originated in Sebasteia (Sivas), but this supposition is not convincing, as the Greek number 4 (Δ) looks different than 40 (Μ) and one could hardly confuse them. Gérard Garitte suggested that the four martyrs were *Irenarchos, Akakios and two children, whose remains were buried together after their martyrdom in Sebaste (Sivas). But we must remember that the relics were apparently brought to the city from elsewhere, and the martyrs mentioned need not have been local. No matter whose relics were kept in the reliquary, we can assume that we are dealing with relics of several martyrs, probably deposited on different occasions (hence the two separate inscriptions). Dating: 6th-7th c. (based on the style of the carvings and the letter forms).

Bibliography

Edition: Bittel, K., Schneider, A.M., "Fund- und Forschungsbericht Türkei 1943 mit 8 Abbildungen und Tafel 23-29", Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Beiblatt: Archäologischer Anzeiger, 59-60 (1944-1945), col. 80 and Plate 29,2. Schneider, A.M., "Eine Reliquiarinschrift aus Sivas", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 39 (1939), 393. Further reading: Destephen, S., "Martyrs locaux et cultes civiques en Asie Mineure", in: J.C. Caillet, S. Destephen, B. Dumézil, H. Inglebert, Des dieux civiques aux saints patrons (IVe-VIIe siècle) (Paris: éditions A. & J. Picard, 2015), 94. Garitte G., "La passion de S. Irénarque de Sébastée et la passion de S. Blaise", Analecta Bollandiana 73 (1955), 18-55. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IX, Asie Mineure", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 92. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1941), 143; (1958), 484.

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