Saint NameJames the Brother of the Lord, also known as James the Just, ob. 1st c. : S00058
Jacob of Cyrrhestica, monk in Syria, ob. second half of the 5th c. : S00378
Jacob (unspecified) : S00858
Saint Name in SourceἸάκωβος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures
Evidence not before527
Evidence not after548
Activity not before527
Activity not after548
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAndrona
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Androna
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsAwarding privileges to cult centres
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Cult Activities - RelicsReliquary – institutionally owned
SourceFirst published in 1955 in the fourth volume of Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie by Louis Jalabert, René Mouterde, and Claude Mondésert, from a copy made by Jean Lauffray at the village of Umm al-Jurun, c. 2.8 km to the northwest of Androna. They did not provide any description of the object.
The stone was rediscovered and photographed by Cyril Mango in 2000. He specifies the dimensions as: H. 2.00 m; W. 0.39 m. See: Mundell Mango 2005, 335.
DiscussionThe inscription marked the boundaries of a church or a monastery (or of its real estate), dedicated to a certain martyr Jacob. Interestingly, the saint is named here ἁγιώτατος/'the most holy', while normally saints are named in inscriptions just ἅγιοι/'holy'. The superlative form occurs, however, sometimes in the texts of documents issued by the imperial office, and in their excerpts reproduced as monumental publications or on boundary stones (see, for example: E00708, E00974).
The identity of this martyr Jacob is not clear. He could be, of course, a local martyr, but the editors of Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie propose other possibilities. They opt either for James the Brother of the Lord, also known as James the Just, as he was reportedly killed in Jerusalem by an enraged crowd, and was considered a martyr by late antique Christians (see: Eus. HE II 23), or for Jacob of Cyrrhestica (monk and ascetic in Syria, friend of Theodoret of Cyrrhus), considered as equal to martyrs by his contemporaries (see: E00439, E00619).
The identity of Jacob was reinvestigated by Marlia Mundell Mango in 2005. She notes that a reliquary, lacking its lid and without inscription, was found in the nearby village of Rasm al-Suf. It is believed that it was brought there from Umm al-Jurun, and, if so, it perhaps encapsulated the relics of our martyr (see: Mundell Mango 2005, 335). She also points out that a certain Jacob is invoked in a lintel inscription from Androna (IGLS IV, no. 1687), but this is certainly the Old Testament Patriarch, as the inscription is simply a quotation of Psalm 46. In her paper Mundell Mango also addresses the question of whether our Jacob could have been the stylite whose columns was found in 1998 near the walls of Androna by the joint archaeological expedition of the Syrian Department of Antiquities, the University of Heidelberg, and the University of Oxford. Mundell Mango raises the possibility that Jacob lived his life as a stylite at Androna, and was buried at Umm al-Jurun, or his relics were venerated there, or an estate, owned by his church was situated at that village (see: Mundell Mango 2005, 339; cf. Mundell Mango 2011, 121). The equation of stylite column, reliquary and boundary inscription is of course highly speculative.
Dating: The date, 527/548, is established based on the reference to the emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora, who authorised this boundary stone.
Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, Cl., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 4: Laodicée, Apamène (BAH 61, Paris: Librairie orientalise Paul Geuthner, 1955), no. 1675ter.
S. Cosentino, "Boundary marks and space organization in early Byzantine epigraphy", in: Ch. Stavrakos (ed.), Inscriptions in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine history and history of art : proceedings of the international symposium "Inscriptions: Their Contribution to the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine History and History of Art" (Ioannina, June 26-27, 2015) (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag in Kommission, 2016), 99.
Mundell Mango, M., “A new stylite at Androna in Syria” [in:] Mélanges Jean-Pierre Sodini. Special issue of Travaux et mémoires 15 (2005) (Paris: Association des Amis du Centre d'Histoire et Civilisation de Byzance, 2005), 335.
Mundell Mango, M., "Byzantine settlement expansion in north central Syria: the case of Androna/Andarin", in: A. Borrut, M. Debié, A. Papaconstantinou, D. Pieri, J.-P. Sodini (eds.), Le Proche-Orient de Justinien aux Abassides : peuplement et dynamiques spatiales : actes du colloque "Continuités de l'occupation entre les périodes byzantine et abbasside au Proche-Orient, VIIe-IXe siècles," Paris, 18-20 octobre 2007 (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 19, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 114-115, 121.
Mundell Mango, M., "Androna and the late antique cities of Oriens" in: E. Rizos (ed.), New Cities in Late Antiquity. Documents and Archaeology (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité Tardive 35, Turnhout: Brepols, 2017), 189-204.
Bulletin épigraphique (1956), 325.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 55, 1621.