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E01627: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions, commemorating the completion and paving of a memorial shrine (martyrion) of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) as the God-Bearer. Found at Abou Roubeis near ancient Apamea on the Orontes and Ḥamāh (central Syria). Dated 7th July 530; 529; 540.

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posted on 14.06.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

A mosaic floor with a dedicatory inscription within a rectangular tabula ansata (the ansae are unusually placed on the top and bottom frame).

Found in a ruined church at Abou Roubeis, to the southeast of Apamea on the Orontes and to the northwest of Ḥamāh (Amathe/Epiphaneia).

First published by Jean-Baptiste Yon, Denis Feissel, and Marc Griesheimer in 2008.

ἐτηλιώθη κ(αὶ) ἐψιφόθη
τὸ μαρτύριον τῆς Θε-
ωτόκου κ(αὶ) ἀειπαρθένου Μα-
ρίας μη(νὸς) Πανέμου ζ΄, ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος)
η΄ τοῦ αμω΄ ἔτους ἐπὶ τοῦ ὁσ-
ιω<τά>του κ(αὶ) ἁγιωτάτου ἀρχ-
ιεπισκώπου ἡμῶν Στε-
φάνου κ(αὶ) Ἀβρααμίου π-
εριωδετοῦ κ(αὶ) Σιμεωνί-
ου πρεσβυτέρου οἰκωδ-
ομηθέντος διὰ τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ χάριτος ὑπ-
ὸ τοῦ θαυμ(ασιωτάτου) Οὐρανίου ἐ-
παρχ(ικοῦ) ὑπὲρ τῆς ἑαυ-
τοῦ σωτηρίας (ivy leaf)

'The memorial shrine (martyrion) of the God-Bearer and forever Virgin Mary was completed and paved on the 7th day of the month of Panemos, 8th indiction, the year 841, under our most pious and most holy archbishop Stephanos, and the itinerant presbyter (periodeutes) Abraamios, and the presbyter Simeonios. It was built through the grace of God by Ouranios of thaumasiotatos rank, official in the bureau of the Prefect of the East (eparchikos) as a vow for his salvation. (ivy leaf)'

Text: Yon, Feissel & Griesheimer 2004-2005, 235-237.

The inscription commemorates the completion and paving of a sanctuary of Mary. Interestingly, the shrine is named martyrion, while the term was usually reserved for martyr shrines, where martyrs' relics were venerated, and Mary was not a martyr herself. Sometimes, however, the term martyrion appears as a designation of sanctuaries, built to commemorate specific places, connected to the life of given saints, or to commemorate important holy figures other than martyrs, as the word martyrion etymologically means 'testimony'. It seems that here the same meaning is implied (e.g. memorial/commemorative shrine). One can suppose that in the 6th c. martyria were so closely connected to the veneration of saints that perhaps the founders of this church found it appropriate to name also our shrine martyrion, as it was likewise designed for the veneration of a specific holy figure.

The inscription says that the construction of the church was carried out under archbishop Stephanos, the periodeutes Abraamios, and the presbyter Simeonios. Though it had been supposed that Abou Roubeis lay in the territory of Hamah/Amathe, the see of archbishop Stephanos could be located only in Apamea on the Orontes, the metropolitan bishopric of the province of Syria II. Thus it may be that Abou Roubeis was ecclesiastically dependent on Apamea, and not Ḥamāh.

The construction was funded by Ouranios, a minor official in the bureau of the Prefect of the East. He must have resided actually in Antioch on the Orontes, in the bureau of the Count of the East, representative of the Prefect of the East, based in Constantinople. As the shrine is built as a vow for the salvation of Ouranios, we can assume that it was a private initiative, and not carried out in the capacity of his office.

The inscription is dated according to the Seleucid era. The date corresponds to 7th July 530.

Based on the identity of people, involved in the construction of the sanctuary, it has been suggested that two previously known mosaics, believed to have been found in a church in the region of Tell Minis near Apamea, were also originally placed in Abou Roubeis:

Inscription 2:

Circular panel (medallion) from a mosaic floor. Dimensions unknown. Seen and photographed, by Henri Seyrig in the markets of antiquities in Beirut and then in Paris. Said to have been found in the region of Tell Minis and Idlib near Apamea on the Orontes, but probably originally placed in the church of the God-Bearer in Abou Roubeis.

Seyrig forwarded the photograph for publication to Jean-Paul Rey Coquais in March of 1968. First published by Rey-Coquais in 1996.

+ ἐπὶ τοῦ
ὁσιωτ(άτου) ἐπισκ(όπου) ἡμῶ-
ν Στεφάνου καὶ τοῦ
θεωφ(ιλεστάτου) περιοδ(ευτοῦ) Μαλχου
εὐξάμενος Χ(ριστ)ῷ Ἰωάννης
τῆς Ἀριστίδου μνήμ(ης)
[Β]ερονικιανοῦ ὁ(σιω)τάτ(ου)
[τ]ὴν πᾶσαν ψηφίδα ἐπο-
ίησε ὑπὲρ σωτηρίας αὐτοῦ
καὶ τῆς αὐτοῦ γαμετῆς καὶ
πάντων τῶν αὐτῷ
ἀνηκόντων, μη(νὸς) Ἀπριλ(ίου),
ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ζ’ τοῦ | μω’ ἔτ(ους)

6. perhaps ἀρίστης μνήμης Rey-Coquais || 7. ΟΤΩΝΤΑΤΟΥ photograph

'+ Under our most pious bishop Stephanos, and the most God-fearing itinerant presbyter (periodeutes) Malchos, having sworn a vow to Chrsit, Ioannes, son of the most pious Veronikianos of the excellent memory (?), made this whole mosaic as a vow for his salvation and of his wife, and of all his relatives. In the month of April, 7th (indiction), the year 840.'

Text: Rey-Coquais 1996, no. 1.

The editor noted that lines 6-8 were hardly understandable, and perhaps one should read there Ἰωάννης ἀρίστης μνήμης Βερονικιανοῦ ὁσιωτάτου/'Ioannes, son of Veronikianos of the excellent memory' instead of Ἰωάννης τῆς Ἀριστίδου μνήμης/'Ioannes of the memory of Aristides', which makes no sense.

Bishop Stephen might be the bishop of Apamea, attested in AD 514/515 or rather his successor (see: SEG 44, 1313) and is almost certainly identical with the bishop mentioned in Inscription 1, presented above.

The mosaic is dated according to the Seleucid era. The date corresponds to AD 529.

Inscription 3:

Circular panel (medallion) from a mosaic floor. Dimensions unknown. Seen and photographed, by Henri Seyrig in the markets of antiquities in Beirut and then in Paris. Said to have been found in the region of Tell Minis and Idlib near Apamea on the Orontes, but probably originally placed in the church of the God-Bearer in Abou Roubeis.

Seyrig forwarded the photograph for publication to Jean-Paul Rey Coquais in March of 1968. First published by Rey-Coquais in 1996. The editor supposed that Inscriptions 2 and 3 came from the same sanctuary.

ἐπὶ τοῦ θε(οφιλεστάτου) Θ-
ωμᾶ περι(ο)δευτοῦ (καὶ) Εὐσ-
εβίου παραμοναρίου
ἐτελιόθι τὸ ψιφὶν τοῦ μαρ-
τυρίου τῖς Θεωτόκου ἐν μην(ὶ) Νου-
ε(μβρίῳ), ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) δ΄ τοῦ βνω΄ ἔτους ὑπὲρ
εὐχῆς κ(αὶ) σοτερίας Ἠλί-
α, Σαλμεου ἰδίου ΑΤ̣Τ[.]
αὐτοῦ ἀναλόμασιν
[- - -] Κ̣ΙΗΘΙ Θεοδόρου
[- - -]

'Under the most God-fearing itinerant presbyter (periodeutes) Thomas (and) the guardian (paramonarios) Eusebios the mosaic of the memorial shrine (martyrion) of the God-Bearer was completed. In the month of November, 4th indiction, the year 852. As a vow and for the salvation of Elias and Salmaios (?) [ - - -] with the money of Theodoros (?) [- - -]'

(ed. Rey-Coquais 1996, no. 2)

The readings and the meaning of lines 8-10 are not clear, but we can safely say that the inscription deals with the paving of a sanctuary of the God-Bearer, named martyrion. Therefore, it is very probable that it is the same sanctuary, which occurs in Inscription 1 above.

The inscription is dated according to the Seleucid era. The date corresponds to AD 540.

History

Evidence ID

E01627

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

Μαρία

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

529

Evidence not after

540

Activity not before

529

Activity not after

540

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes Ḥamāh Abou Roubeis Tell Minis

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Ḥamāh Thabbora Thabbora Abou Roubeis Thabbora Thabbora Tell Minis Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Officials

Bibliography

Inscription 1: Edition: Yon, J.-B., Gatier, P.-L. (eds.), Choix d'inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, (Guide archéologique de l’Ifpo 6, Beirut: Presses de l’Ifpo, 2009), no. 51. Yon, J.-B., Feissel, D., Griesheimer, M., "Abou Roubeis", Les Annales archéologiques arabes syriennes 47-48 (2004-2005), 235-237. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2008), 550. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 56, 1860. Inscriptions 2-3: Edition: J.-P. Rey-Coquais, "Mosaïques inscrites paléochrétiennes de la Syrie du Nord-Ouest", Syria 73 (1996), nos. 1-2. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1998), 486; (2008), 550. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 564 Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1773; 46, 1775.

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