Saint NameMary, Mother of Christ : S00033
John the Evangelist : S00042
Saint Name in SourceΜαρ[ία]
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Canonical and legal texts
Evidence not before450
Evidence not after610
Activity not before450
Activity not after610
Place of Evidence - RegionAegean islands and Cyprus
Aegean islands and Cyprus
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSamos
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Samos
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsAwarding privileges to cult centres
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesMonarchs and their family
SourceA marble plaque, broken and lost on all sides. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.195 m; W. 0.385 m; Th. 0.065 m; letter height 0.02-0.023 m. Found in Pythagorio (Samos) in 1964. Kept in the Museum of Pythagorio. First copied by Günter Dunst, published by Klaus Hallof.
DiscussionThe inscription refers to one or two churches, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to John the Apostle and Evangelist, here named the 'Theologian'. Lines 1-2 could contain references to its/their property. Therefore, it is not unlikely that we are dealing with the remnants of the monumental publication of an emperor's, bishop's or governor's letter, bestowing privileges upon the mentioned church(es).
Klaus Hallof supposes that the sanctuary referred to is the episcopal church, built at Pythagorio in the mid-5th c. (for the church, see: Schneider 1929, 112-119; Tölle-Kastenbein 1974, 92-105), but this is, of course, highly conjectural. As the island of Samos lies very close to Ephesos, we can speculate that the churches mentioned are rather the renowned Ephesian sanctuaries: the episcopal church of Mary (also named the Council Church), and the church of John the Apostle on the Ayasoluk hill (which is even more probable as John was venerated as 'the Theologian' in Ephesos). We know that there was a conflict between the churches of Ephesos and Smyrna (or at least a degree of competition), which provoked the personal involvement of the emperor Justinian or his successors in settling the quarrel (see: E00765, E00766, E00778). Perhaps our inscription should be added to the dossier of imperial and episcopal letters, aimed at solving the problem. The presumed letter could deal, for example, with an estate on Samos, disputed between the two sanctuaries. The stone could also have been originally displayed in Ephesos and brought to Samos at a later period, to be reused in a building.
Dating: tentatively dated to the mid-5th c. by Hallof, based on the supposition that the inscription refers to the episcopal basilica of Pythagorio, built c. 450. A later date is actually more probable, because of the possible authorship of Justinian or one of his successors.
Nowakowski, P., "A new imperial letter from the Ephesian dossier, concerning the churches of John and Mary in Ephesus? A re-edition of IG XII 6,2 928", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 204 (2017), 72-78.
Inscriptiones Graecae XII 6,2, no. 928.
Schneider, A.M., "Samos in Frühchristlicher und Byzantinischer zeit" Athenische Mitteilungen 54 (1929), 112-119.
Tölle-Kastenbein, R., Das Kastro Tigani : die Bauten und Funde griechischer, römischer und byzantinischer Zeit (Samos 14, Berlin: Dt. Archäolog. Inst., Bonn: Habelt, 1974), 92-107.
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 238.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 53, 877.