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E01657: Silver and pottery lamps with Greek inscriptions referring to the 'blessing of the God-Bearer', i.e. *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found in Syria, exact provenance usually unknown. Possibly produced in Jerusalem. Probably late antique.

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posted on 24.06.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
We have collected here a number of lamps from Syria, of different materials and shape, but all with very similar invocations of Mary as the God-Bearer. There are no published indications of date, but all, or most, are probably late antique, from the later 5th c. onwards (when the cult of Mary took off). They were probably produced and distributed to pilgrims in Jerusalem (see: $E02830: lamps under section 3 bear an identical designation of the workshop of one Ioannes).

Lamp 1:

A clay lamp. Max. diameter: 0.075 m.

First published by Jean Baptiste Chabot in Journal asiatique in 1900. When recorded, it was kept in the library of the Convent of Saint Theresa in Aleppo. Provenance unknown.

The inscriptions run around the central whole, in two lines:

A: εὐλογία τῆς Θεοτόκου μεθ' ἡμῶν

'The blessing of the God-Bearer is with us.'

B: + ἐπίγραμα Ἰωάννου

'The engraving of Ioannes.'

Text: Chabot 1900, 271 = IGLS I, no. 218.

Ioannes is the name of the artisan, who made the lamp.

Lamp 2:

A clay lamp. Dimensions unknown.

First published by Jean Baptiste Chabot in Journal asiatique in 1900. When recorded, it was kept in the collection of antiquities of G. Marcopoli in Aleppo. Provenance unknown. The inscription runs around the central hole:

εὐλογία τῆς Θεοτόκου μεθ' ἡμῶ[ν]

'The blessing of the God-Bearer is with us.'

Text: Chabot 1900, 271 = IGLS I, no. 219.

Lamp 3:

A reddish pottery lamp with seven holes, and an inscription on two concentric bands.

First published by William Fulco in 1979. When recorded, it was kept in the Museum of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. Purchased from a dealer of antiquities. Claimed provenance: Syria.

A: [εὐ]λ[ογ]ία [τ]ῆς Θεοτόκου με[θ' ἡμῶ]ν

'The blessing of the God-Bearer is with us.'

B: + ἐπίγραμα Ἰωάννου

'The engraving of Ioannes.'

Text: Fulco 1979, 27-28 = SEG 29, 1601.

Lamp 4:

A pottery lamp. Diameter: 0.06 m; letter height 0.008 m. Decorated with a sinusoid line and two lozenges.

First published by Jacques Jarry in 1970. Found at Zediye (north Syria). Kept in the Collection Laudien.

A: ἐπίγραμα Ἰωάννου

'The engraving of Ioannes.'

B: εὐλογία τῆς Θεοτόκου ηγου

'The blessing of the God-Bearer [- - -].'

Text: Jarry 1970, 212, no. 61.

The meaning of the last word is not clear. Perhaps it is the abbreviation of ἡγούμενος/'superior of a monastery'.

History

Evidence ID

E01657

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Lamps, ampullae and tokens

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Jerusalem

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

Thabbora Thabbora Jerusalem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Production and selling of eulogiai, tokens

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Merchants and artisans

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil Ampullae, eulogiai, tokens Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Making contact relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles Precious material objects

Discussion

Inscribed clay lamps are quite rare.

Bibliography

Edition: Lamp 1: Chabot, J.-B., “Deux lychnaria chrétiens”, Journal asiatique 16 (1900), 271. Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 1: Commagène et Cyrrhestique (BAH 12, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1929), no. 218. Lamp 2: Chabot, J.-B., “Deux lychnaria chrétiens”, Journal asiatique 16 (1900), 271. Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 1: Commagène et Cyrrhestique (BAH 12, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1929), no. 219. Lamp 3: Fulco, W.J., “A seven-holed oeotokoc lamp”, Berytus: Archaeological Studies 27 (1979), 27-28. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 29, 1601. Lamp 4: Jarry, J., “Inscriptions arabes, syriaques et grecques du massif du Bélus en Syrie du nord (suite)”, Annales islamologiques 9 (1970), 212, no. 61. Further reading: Loffreda, S., Lucerne bizantine in Terra Santa con iscrizioni in greco (SBF, Coll. Major 35, Jerusalem 1989). Loffreda, S., "The Greek inscriptions on the Byzantine lamps from the Holy Land", [in:] G.C.Bottini, L.Di Segni, E.Alliata (eds.), Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land. New discoveries. Archaeological essays in honour of Virgilio C. Corbo ofm (SBF Col-lectio Maior 36; Jerusalem, 1990), 475-500. Loffreda, S., Light and Life: Ancient Christian Oil Lamps of the Holy Land (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 2001). Loffreda, S., "Nuovi acquisti di lucerne bizantine", Liber Annuus 60 (2010), 363-376. Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 694. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 39, 1617; 42, 1406; 60, 1706 (cf. 43, 1020).

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