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E01391: Greek inscription on a bronze round object (identified as a buckle) with an invocation of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), as the God-Bearer. Found at Knossos (north Crete). Probably 7th c.

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posted on 21.05.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
written as a cross-shaped monogram:

(Θεοτόκε, βοήθει)

'O God-Bearer, help!'

Text: Megaw 1984, 326.

History

Evidence ID

E01391

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

Θεοτόκος

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

600

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

600

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Aegean islands and Cyprus Aegean islands and Cyprus

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Crete Knossos

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

Crete Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia Knossos Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Source

The inscription is on a 'bronze buckle', found in a tomb at the south end of the narthex of the cemetery church in Knossos, under the remains of a skeleton. There is no published description or image of the object. The cemetery is sited on the road to Heraklion. It was excavated in 1978 by Arthur Megaw, under the auspices of the Greek Archaeological Service and the British School at Athens, before the construction of a hospital. The excavations revealed the existence of c. 300 tombs and the Christian basilica. The basilica had three aisles, a trefoil sanctuary, a narthex, and a small atrium with a brick-build cistern. Megaw dated the church to the 5th c., based on a coin found at the bottom of the foundation trench, datable to c. 400. According to him, it was a well-built sanctuary of considerable importance.

Discussion

The inscription is a common invocation of Mary as the God-Bearer. Megaw notes that only its first part was deciphered (the one which we offer above). We can suppose that the other part contained the name of the person, for whom the help was requested. The buckle was stylistically dated by Megaw as belonging to a 'late type'. At the site of the cemetery a coin (follis) of Hercalius was found, proving that burials were conducted there even in the mid-7th c.

Bibliography

Edition: Megaw, A.H.S., “A cemetery church with trefoil sanctuary in Crete”, in: Actes du Xe Congrès international d'archéologie chrétienne, Thessalonique, 28 septembre-4 octobre 1980, vol. 2 (Studi di antichità cristiana 37, Hellenika, Parartema 26, Città del Vaticano: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1984), 326.

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