Saint NameThomas, the Apostle : S00199
Saint Name in SourceΘωμᾶς
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before786
Evidence not after787
Activity not before786
Activity not after787
Place of Evidence - RegionAegean islands and Cyprus
Aegean islands and Cyprus
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSiphnos
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Siphnos
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
SourceA marble block. H. 0.28 m; W. 0.55 m; Th. 0.202 m. Partially covered with plaster. Broken and lost on top, in the right-hand corner. The inscription is carved in a frame (H. 0.215 m; W. 0.458 m). Letter height 0.015-0.03 m. Found by the archimandrite Amphilochios, the then abbot of the Vrysi monastery (= Panagia tis Vrysis / Kyria Vrysiani) on Siphnos and first published by him in a local newspaper. The stone was discovered 'in the wall of a field near the (modern) chapel of St. Thomas at a place called Tou Pothitou'. The chapel was built in 1897, over the ruins of an older structure, close to the ruins of a three-aisled basilica, refurbished into a modern church. In July of 1977 it was communicated to Linos Politis, during his stay on Siphnos, who prepared the first international edition. Kept in the museum of the monastery of Vrysi.
DiscussionThe inscription is just beyond our upper chronological limit. However, we find it appropriate to include it in the database as it commemorates the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to Thomas, probably the Apostle, a figure rarely mentioned in inscriptions from the East.
Élisabeth Malamut and Marco Di Branco stress that the cult of Thomas was originally characteristic of the Church of Edessa, and the regions of Persia and Mesopotamia, but it could have been imported to the Aegean from Syria or Palestine via Cyprus, as between the 4th and 12th c. there was an influx of people from these regions to the Cyclades. Eustorgios, the name of the founder of our church, is also frequent in epitaphs from Cyprus. Linos Politis, the editor, saw a continuity between the church dedicated to Thomas, mentioned in our inscription, and the present-day veneration of Thomas on Siphnos.
The inscription is also a very interesting case of a specific dedication on behalf of one's children. The editor identified the first two persons, Eustorgios and Kosmo, as a married couple and the following three as their children: Leon, Niketas, and Lampousa.
The date, offered by the inscription (6295 according to the Byzantine era of creation = AD 786/787), coincides with that of the Second Council of Nikaia/Nicaea, restoring the veneration of icons. It is sometimes supposed that its resolutions gave a new impetus to the cult of saints and one can wonder, whether it also influenced the construction of our sanctuary. In a paper, published in 2005, Charalampos Pennas argues that Eustorgios was an aristocrat (probably a state official) and a supporter of the anti-iconoclastic party that dominated the council. While Marco Di Branco hypothesises that Thomas the Apostle could have been chosen as a patron for the newly constructed church, to honour an ancestor of Thomas the Slav (c. 760-823), who supposedly belonged to the iconodule faction. But this theory is based on very fragile arguments: the later, considerable support for Thomas' revolt in the Cyclades and the coincidence of names.
Politis, L. (trans. C. Mango), "A Byzantine inscription from Siphnos", Harvard Ukrainian Studies, vol. 7: Okeanos: Essays presented to Ihor Ševčenko on his Sixtieth Birthday by his Colleagues and Students (1983), 548-554.
Di Branco, "M., The cult of saints in Siphnos during the Byzantine Age", Πρακτικὰ Β´ Διεθνοῦς Σιφναϊκοῦ Συμποσίου, Σίφνος 27-30 Ἰουνίου 2002. Τόμος Β´: Βυζάντιο, Φραγκοκρατία-Τουρκοκρατία, Νεότεροι Χρόνοι (Athens: ΣΥΝΔΗΜΟΣ ΣΙΦΝΑÏΚΩΝ ΜΕΛΕΤΩΝ, 2005), 27-32.
Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 377.
Kiourtzian, G., "Οἱ Κυκλάδες κατὰ τὴν πρωτοβυζαντινὴ ἐποχὴ: ἀνάπτυξη καὶ ζωτικότητα", in: Πρακτικὰ Α´ Διεθνοῦς Σιφναϊκοῦ Συμποσίου, Σίφνος 25-28 Ἰουνίου 1998. Τόμος Β´: Βυζάντιο, Φραγκοκρατία-Τουρκοκρατία, Νεότεροι Χρόνοι (Athens: ΕΤΑΙΡΕΙΑ ΣΙΦΝΑÏΚΩΝ ΜΕΛΕΤΩΝ, 2001), 9-18.
Malamut, E., "Siphnos byzantine", Πρακτικὰ Α´ Διεθνοῦς Σιφναϊκοῦ Συμποσίου, Σίφνος 25-28 Ἰουνίου 1998. Τόμος Β´: Βυζάντιο, Φραγκοκρατία-Τουρκοκρατία, Νεότεροι Χρόνοι (Athens: ΕΤΑΙΡΕΙΑ ΣΙΦΝΑÏΚΩΝ ΜΕΛΕΤΩΝ, 2001), 19-32.
Pennas, C., "Ἱστορικὲς καὶ ἀρχαιολογικὲς μαρτυρίες γιὰ τὴ Βυζαντινὴ Σίφνο", in: Πρακτικὰ Β´ Διεθνοῦς Σιφναϊκοῦ Συμποσίου, Σίφνος 27-30 Ἰουνίου 2002. Τόμος Β´: Βυζάντιο, Φραγκοκρατία-Τουρκοκρατία, Νεότεροι Χρόνοι (Athens: ΣΥΝΔΗΜΟΣ ΣΙΦΝΑÏΚΩΝ ΜΕΛΕΤΩΝ, 2005), 9-26.
Bulletin épigraphique (1987), 449.
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 231.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, 36, 770; 56, 984.