Saint NameMary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Saint Name in SourceΘεοτόκος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed objects
Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)
Evidence not before600
Evidence not after700
Activity not before600
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionAegean islands and Cyprus
Aegean islands and Cyprus
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcCrete
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Crete
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceThe 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.
DiscussionThe 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.
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.