Saint NameZechariah, father of John the Baptist : S00597
Zechariah, Old Testament Prophet : S00283
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed objects
Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after600
Activity not before500
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcTyre
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Tyre
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
Cult Activities - RelicsContact relic - oil
Making contact relics
Reliquary – institutionally owned
SourceThe inscription is carved on one of the faces of the sloping roof of the lid of a stone reliquary. Damaged at both ends. On top there is a hole for the introduction of holy oil or a metal rod. The reliquary chest itself is missing. H. 0.083 m; W. 0.164 m; L. 0.275 m; letter height 0.02-0.025 m. Acquired by the Louvre Museum in 1901. Said to have been found in El Bassah/Khirbet Ma'asub.
The first editor, Étienne Michon, notes that an almost identical object was donated to the Louvre Museum in 1864 by Félicien de Saulcy, and said to have been found in Hebron (see: Michon 1905, 576, note 1; cf. Duval, Metzger & Feissel 1996, 319-321, fig. 12 and 14).
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the dedication of this reliquary by a deacon, or by a member of his family, praying for his health and prosperity. Unfortunately, the relics of which martyrs were kept in the chest is not specified. The only clue is the account of Tristram de Guérin (see: Comte 2012, 246), who visited the village, where our lid was found, and reported that he saw there an inscription mentioning a church dedicated to 'the prophet Zechariah' (almost certainly our E04405). Though it is still a hypothesis, it is possible that his relics could have been kept in the chest, as a saint (or saints) so named was widely venerated in south Asia Minor and the Near East. For a reliquary with undoubted relics of 'Saint Zechariah', see: E01036.
The exact location of the village of the dedicant, Tiria, is unknown, but it was probably situated in the territory of Tyre.
Dating: Probably 6th c., based on the forms of letters.
Comte, M.-Ch., Les reliquaires du Proche-Orient et de Chypre à la période protobyzantine, IVe-VIIIe siècles: formes, emplacements, fonctions et cultes (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 20, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2012), 246-247.
Duval, N., Metzger, C., Feissel, D., “Tables et reliquaires du Louvre”, Zbornik Narodnog Muzeja u Beogradu 16 (1996), 321-322 and fig. 13a-13b.
Buschhausen, H., Die spätrömischen Metallscrinia und frühchristlichen Reliquiare (Wiener byzantinistische Studien 9, Wien: , 1971), 315, no. C68.
Michon, É., “Antiquités gréco-romaines provenant de Syrie conservées au Musée du Louvre”, Revue biblique 2 (1905), 576.
Kalinowski, A., Frühchristliche Reliquiare im Kontext von Kultstrategien, Heilserwartung und sozialer Selbstdarstellu (Spätantike – Frühes Christentum Byzanz 32, Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2011), 125.
Bulletin épigraphique (1997), 631.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1803.