Saint NameSergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023
Saint Name in SourceΣήργις
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before609
Evidence not after610
Activity not before609
Activity not after610
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAntioch on the Orontes
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Antioch on the Orontes
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceStone lintel from the west doorway of the west church at Babisqa in Jabal Barisha. The shrine is situated to the west of a much earlier church, built by the architect Markianos between 390 and 407/408 (for this artisan, see: Milson 2003 (esp. pp. 160-162); Bavant 2013, 38 and the comments in E01806). There are no published detailed descriptions or measurements of the inscription, but it is well recorded in photographs and drawings.
The inscription partially runs around the upper part of a carved circle with a cross. The right- and left-hand ends are engraved on the jambs of the doorway. For the layout of the inscription, see the enclosed images.
First recorded by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900: copied by William Prentice and Enno Littmann; squeeze, photograph. Revisited by the Princeton Expedition to Syria (a new squeeze, photograph, and drawing were made by Prentice), and by René Mouterde. First published by Prentice in 1908. Republished by Prentice in 1922 and by Mouterde and Jalabert in 1939.
DiscussionThe invocation of Sergios, included in the first line of the inscription, implies that the church was dedicated to this saint. His cult became extremely popular in the Near East in the late 5th and the 6th c., spreading mostly from the nearby Resafa.
Prentice was not sure about the identity of the founder, Solomonidas, tentatively suggesting that he identified himself by his tribal affiliation: 'of the (tribe?) of Zoryn (or: Zaryl)'. This is, however, not the only possibility, as Solomonidas could have mentioned an otherwise unattested toponym (the name of a city or village) after his name.
Dating: The date is given according to the era of Antioch (i.e. the Caesarian era). Its year 658 corresponds to AD 609/610. Hence, the building is considered to be the latest dated late antique church in north Syria.
Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 563.
Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 132, no. 1100.
Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Greek and Latin inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900 3, New York: Century 1908), 88, no. 71.
Butler, H.C., Architecture and other Arts (Publications of an American Archæological Expedition to Syria in 1899–1900 2, New York: Century, 1903), 216-217.
Butler, H.C. (ed.), Syria, Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, division II: Ancient Architecture in Syria, part B: North Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1920), 169.
Bavant, B., "II. Markianos Kyris, fondé de pouvoir de l'Église d'Antioche?", in: G. Charpentier, V. Puech (eds.). Villes et campagnes aux rives de la Méditerranée ancienne. Hommages à Georges Tate (Topoi, Suppl. 12, Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 2013), 36-43.
Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: St. Sergius between Rome and Iran (Berkeley, Calif.; London: University of California Press, 1999), 116-117.
Loosley, E., The Architecture and Liturgy of the Bema in Fourth- to-Sixth-Century Syrian Churches (Boston: Brill, 2012), 203-206 (for a description of the site and of the east church of Markianos).
Milson, D., "The Syrian technites Markianos Kyris († 425 C.E.)", Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 119 (2003), 159-182 (for a description of the site and of the east church of Markianos).
Peña, I., The Christian Art of Byzantine Syria ([England]: Garnet Publishing, 1997), ????
Scheck, F.R., Odenthal, J., Syrien - Hochkulturen zwischen Mittelmeer und Arabischer Wüste (Köln: DuMont Reiseverlag, 1998), 303.
Strube, Ch., Baudekoration im Nordsyrischen Kalksteinmassiv, vol.1: Kapitell-, Tür- und Gesimsformen der Kirchen des 4. und 5. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. (Mainz am Rhein: P. von Zabern, 1993), 53-57.
Strube, Ch., Die “Toten Städte“. Stadt und Land in Nordsyrien während der Spätantike (Mainz am Rhein: P. von Zabern, 1996), 36, 41, 79.
Tchalenko, G., Eglises de village de la Syrie du nord, vol. 2 (Paris: Librairie orientaliste P. Geuthner, 1980), 54-59???
Trombley, F.R., Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529, vol. 2 (Leiden, New York, Cologne: Brill, 1994), 270-272.
For Butler's photographs from Bābisqa, see: http://vrc.princeton.edu/archives/items/show/9319 and the following items (Church of Sergios).
For other photographs, see: Emma Loosley, “Babisqa,” Architecture and Asceticism, accessed August 12, 2016, http://architectureandasceticism.exeter.ac.uk/items/show/309 (only the church of Markianos).