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E01753: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions from the so-called Cruciform Church/the Church at Kaoussie/Qausiyeh at Antioch on the Orontes, presumed to be the martyr shrine (martyrion) of *Babylas (S00061), enumerating members of the local clergy, involved in the construction and extension of this shrine. Dated 387 and 420-429.

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posted on 20.07.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

In the floor of the north aisle, in front of the entrance to the central squarish chamber. Within a frame. Black letters on white background. H. 0.45 m; W. 7.70 m; letter height 0.08 m.

(christogram) ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιοτάτου ἐπισκόπου ἡμῶν Φλαουιανοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ εὐλαβεστάτου
Εὐσεβίου οἰκονόμου καὶ πρεσβυτέρου, Δωρυς ὁ πρε<σ>βύτερος καὶ + (leaf)
(leaf) ταύτην τὴν ἐξέδραν, εὐξάμενος, τὴν ψηφῖδα ἐπλήρωσεν. μη(νος) Δύστρου τοῦ ελυ΄ ἔτου[ς]

'(christogram) Under our most holy bishop Flavianos and under the most pious steward (oikonomos) and presbyter Eusebios, the presbyter Dorys, having sworn a vow, completed also the mosaic of this hall (exedra). In the month of Dystros, the year 435.'

Text: Lassus 1938, 39, no. 1 = IGLS 3/1, no. 774.

The people, mentioned in this inscription are Flavianos, bishop of Antioch (381-404), successor of the deposed bishop Meletios, recognised by bishops of Rome and Alexandria in 399, and two lesser ecclesiastics: a certain Eusebios, presbyter and steward, and Dorys, presbyter, recorded also in mosaic inscriptions in two more aisles.

The date, given according to the era of Antioch, corresponds to AD 387. Hence, this is the earliest dated inscription in the church, which itself had been founded presumably seven or eight years earlier, in c. 379/380, by Meletios. The aisle, where the inscription was situated, housed two tombs, constructed after the creation of the mosaic floor, one next to the east wall, the other in the south-west corner of the room. When recorded by Jean Lassus, both were already pillaged. It is not known, who was buried there, but it is generally suspected that the church served as the burial place of bishops of Antioch, who were deposited near the martyr Babylas, a former bishop of the same see.

Inscription 2:

In the floor of the north aisle, within a band running along the west and north wall. Only four fragments of the text are preserved, measuring respectively: 0.23 m; 2.31 m; 0.27 m; 0.60 m. H. 0.215 m; letter height 0.08-0.115 m.

Κ(ύρι)ε, [βοήθι τὸν δεῖνα - - -]̣δλι̣δ[- - - κ]αὶ Μαρθανα καὶ Θε̣ό[δοτον (?) κα]̣ὶ Μα[- - -]

Μαρθάνᾳ Mouterde

'Lord, [help - - -] and Marthana and Theo[dotos (?)] and Ma[- - -]'

Text: Lassus 1938, 40, no. 2 = IGLS 3/1, no. 775.

The completions by Lassus are entirely hypothetical, especially those with the names of the dedicants.

Inscription 3:

In the floor of the west aisle, in the middle of the pavement, within a frame. H. 0.69 m; W. 1.51 m; letter height 0.08-0.095 m. Black letters on white background, beige lines between the lines of text.

[ἐπ]ὶ τοῦ ὁσιοτάτου Φλαουιανοῦ
[το]ῦ ἐπισκόπου, διέποντος τὴν
[οἰκον]ομίαν τῆς ἐκκλησίας
[τοῦ] τιμιοτάτου Εὐσεβίου, Δω-
ρυς ὁ πρεσβύτερος τὴν ψηφῖδα
[τ]ῆς ἐξέδρας ὅλην ἐποίησ[εν]

'Under the most venerable bishop Flavianos, when the most reverend Eusebios was holding the office of the steward of the Church, the presbyter Dorys made the whole mosaic of this hall (exedra)'.

Text: Lassus 1938, 40, no. 3 = IGLS 3/1, no. 776.

The people mentioned are certainly those occurring in Inscription 1. Lassus supposed that this text predated Inscription 1, as it said nothing of other aisles paved by Dorys.

The word ekklesia/'church', used in line 3, refers probably to the Christian community of Antioch as a whole, and not to the building, were our mosaics were situated.

Inscription 4:

In the floor of the south aisle. In front of the entrance to the central chamber. Significantly damaged. H. c. 0.50 m; W. 7.30 m; letter height 0.115 m.

[ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιο]τ[ά]του Φλαουιανοῦ τοῦ ἐπισκό[που, δ]ιέποντος
[τὴν οἰκ]ονομίαν τῆς ἐκκλησίας Εὐσεβί[ου πρ]εσβυτέρου
[Δωρυς ὁ πρ]ε[σ]βύτερος καὶ ταύτην τὴν ἐξέδρ[αν ἐψή]φωσεν

'[Under the most holy] bishop Flavianos, when the presbyter Eusebios was holding the office of the steward of the Church, the presbyter [Dorys] paved with a mosaic also this hall (exedra).'

Text: Lassus 1938, 41, no. 4 = IGLS 3/1, no. 777.

Lassus notes that this mosaic is the least elegant of all the inscriptions of Dorys: it lacks epithets and uses common formulaic phrases.

Inscription 5:

In the floor of the chamber adjacent to the northeast section of the central chamber. Within a frame, near the north wall of the chamber. White letters on beige background. H. 0.58 m; W. 3.79 m; letter height 0.12-0.15 m.

ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιοτάτου καὶ ὁσιοτάτου ἐπισκόπου Θεοδότου, καὶ Ἀθανασίου
πρεσβυτέρου καὶ οἰκονόμου, ἡ ψηφεὶς τοῦ πειστικοῦ γέγονεν καὶ τὸ ἔργον
τοῦτο, ἐπεὶ Ακκιβα, διακόνου καὶ παραμοναρίου

'Under the holy and venerable bishop Theodotos, and the presbyter and steward (oikonomos) Athanasios, the mosaic of the pistikon was completed and this work. Under the deacon and watchman (paramonarios) Akkiba.'

Text: Lassus 1938, no. 5 = IGLS 3/1, no. 778.

This inscription commemorates a later phase of the embellishment of the church. Lassus identified bishop Theodotos, mentioned in line 1, as Theodotos who held the see of Antioch from 420/421 to 429, the successor of Alexander who ended the schism in Antioch, that had lasted for more than half a century. This Theodotos is also known for the rehabilitation of the memory of John Chrysostom.

Lassus pointed out that 'the work'/to ergon, mentioned in line 2 was the extension itself, probably built at the request of the sacristan Akkiba, and funded by diocesan funds. The room is named a pistikon, which is a unique term, deriving from the Greek word pistis/'faith, trust'. Its actual meaning has been disputed. Lassus, based on parallels from 7th c. papyri, where the term pistikos designates a secretary (i.e. a trusted man), guessed that the room must have played the role of the office or archive of the church. On the other hand, he also suggested that, as the room was adjacent to the baptistery, it could have been the place, where catechumens were subjected to some of the baptismal rites, e.g. the recitation of creed. This option was preferred by René Mouterde. Henri Grégoire interpreted the term as the Greek rendering of the Latin posticum, 'literally back door' or 'outhouse, toilet', which is, however, unlikely.

Other inscriptions from the church are very fragmentary. One of them (no. 11) might mention the presbyter Rouben.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Babylas, bishop and martyr in Antioch, and his companions, ob. 282-284 : S00061

Type of Evidence

Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes Kaoussie

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Kaoussie Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


The site was discovered during the work of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity. The mosaics were first published, with photographs, by Jean Lassus in 1938. The church was sited outside the city walls of ancient Antioch, on the right bank of Orontes. It consisted of a central squarish chamber (c. 16 m x 16 m) and four perpendicular aisles/halls (W. 11 m; L. 25 m). The access to the church was through doors in each of the aisles/halls. Even the east one had no altar. It seems that liturgy was celebrated at the bema in the central chamber. None of its surviving inscriptions mention saints, nor do any designate the building a martyr shrine (martyrion); however, the church is normally identified, and probably rightly, as the martyr shrine of *Babylas. This is because it is an impressive extramural sanctuary, and the martyr shrine of Antioch's principal martyr Babylas is the only extramural church mentioned by the relatively abundant written sources from Antioch. Furthermore, the testimonies of John Chrysostom (E00095) and Sozomen (E02283), date the foundation of Babylas' shrine to 379/380 under bishop Meletios (buried there in 381), a date which fits well with our earliest mosaic inscription, Inscription 1 of 387. The sarcophagus with two burial places, found in the central squarish chamber, considered as a place of special distinction, is supposed to have contained the bodies of Babylas and bishop Meletios. The body of the martyr was transferred here probably from his original burial place in a cemetery at Antioch, after it had been moved there back from Babylas' first martyr shrine in Daphne by the emperor Julian.


Edition: Now also: Mayer, W., Allen, P., The Churches of Syrian Antioch (300-638 CE) (Leuven - Paris - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2012). Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 3/1: Région de l’Amanus, Antioche (BAH 46, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1950), nos. 774-778 (with addendum p. 684). Morey, Ch.R., The Mosaics of Antioch (London; New York [etc.]: Longmans, Green and co, 1938), nos. 66, 68, 67, 69 Lassus, J., "L'Église cruciforme", [in:] R. Stillwell and others (ed.), Antioch-on-the-Orontes, vol. 2: The Excavations 1933-1936 (Princeton: Princeton Univeristy Press, London: Oxford University Press, the Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938), 43, no. 6. Further reading: Gatier, P.-L., "Inscriptions grecques, mosaïques et églises des débuts de l'époque islamique au Proche-Orient (VIIe-VIIIe) siècles", 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), 17. Donceel-Voûte, P., Les pavements des églises byzantines de Syrie et du Liban. Décor, archéologie et liturgie (Publications d’histoire de l’art et d’archéologie de l’Université catholique de Louvain 69, Louvain-La-Neuve: Département d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, 1988), 21-31. Shepardson, Ch., "Burying Babylas", in: Eadem, Controlling contested places: late antique Antioch and the spatial politics of religious controversy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014), 58-91. Loosley, E., The architecture and liturgy of the bema in fourth- to-sixth-century Syrian churches (Boston: Brill, 2012), 27. Soler, E., "La mémoire des martyrs, les martyria et la restauration nicéenne à Antioche, à la fin du IVe siècle", in: O. Dumoulin, F. Thelamon (eds.), Autour des morts: mémoire et identité: actes du Ve colloque international sur la sociabilité, Rouen, 19-21 novembre 1998 (Mont-Saint-Aignan: Université de Rouen, 2001), 355-363. Downey, G., A history of Antioch in Syria: from Seleucus to the Arab conquest (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1961), 415; 455. Mouterde, R., "Review: Antioch-on-the-Orontes, II. The Excavations of 1933-1936 edited by R. Stilwell...”, Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph (Beyrouth, Lebanon) 22 (1939), 129-132. Grégoire, H., "Notules épigraphiques IV", Byzantion 13 (1938), 180. Delehaye, H., “” Analecta Bollandiana 56 (1938), 391-392. Downey, G., “The shrines of St. Babylas at Antioch and Daphne”, [in:] R. Stillwell and others (ed.), Antioch-on-the-Orontes, vol. 2: The Excavations 1933-1936 (Princeton: Princeton Univeristy Press, London: Oxford University Press, the Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938), 45-48. Bulletin épigraphique (1940), 169; (1938), 503. L'Année épigraphique (1938), no. 174, 175.

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