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E01818: Greek and Syriac inscriptions on the chancel screen of the church of *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023) in Zabad (near Anasartha, to the southeast of Chalkis and Beroia/Aleppo, north Syria), listing donors involved in the construction of this sanctuary, and possibly invoking Sergios. 6th c. (after 511).

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posted on 22.08.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
The following inscriptions were found in situ on the chancel screen of the church (martyrion) of Sergios in Zabad. For a description of the basilica and the site, and for the famous trilingual building-inscription of AD 511 on the lintel of the west doorway, see: E01817.

Inscription 1:

A basalt panel from the southeast corner of the chancel screen of the basilica. H. 0.92 m; W. 1.02 m; Th. 0.185 m; letter height 0.035-0.055 m. Decorated with a carving of a flower within two concentric, perpendicularly positioned, squares, framed by a girdle. The inscription is carved across the top and on both side-borders.

Recorded by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900. First published by William Prentice in 1908 from his own copy and a photograph. Republished by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939, based on new drawings and squeezes by Charles-Léonce Brossé and photographs by Sébastien Ronzevalle, made in 1928. The right-hand part of the text was then illegible. The stone was reportedly removed from Zebed and reused in a house in Sfire/Sefire near Aleppo.

+ Συμεώνου Ἀντιώχου
Σ- μ
έ- υ
ρ- κ
γ- ε
ι-
ς

The right-hand column: Y or Γ Littmann, μ(νήσθητι) ὑ(μῶν) (= ἡμῶν?), Κ(ύρι)ε Mouterde, Μ(αρίας) υ(ἱέ), Κ(ύρι)ε Prentice

'+ Of Symeonos, son of Antiochos. Sergis. (- - -)'

Text: IGLS 2, no. 311.

The inscription probably commemorates the donation of this part of the chancel screen by Symeonos (= Symeon or Symeonios), son of Antiochos. The name Sergios in the left-hand column may by an invocation of the saint, or the name of another donor. The meaning of the four letters in the right-hand column is not clear. René Mouterde expanded them as the phrase: μ(νήσθητι) ὑ(μῶν) (= ἡμῶν?), Κ(ύρι)ε / 'Lord, remember us!'. Prentice saw here an invocation of Christ as the Son of Mary: Μ(αρίας) υ(ἱέ), Κ(ύρι)ε / 'Lord, Son of Mary!', but Mouterde notes that this expansion lacks the necessary imperative, for example: 'save' or 'protect'.

Inscription 2:

A basalt panel in the chancel screen of the basilica, second from the north. H. 0.90 m; W. 1.10 m. The Syriac inscriptions are carved along the top and on the left-hand border, and the Greek on the right-hand one. Letter height 0.025-0.04 m (Syriac); 0.045-0.06 m (Greek). Decorated in the middle with a low-relief carving of a cross within a circle and other geometrical forms (circles with spokes, lozenges with loops, elipses).

Recorded by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900 (squeezes, photographs, drawings). First published by Enno Littmann in 1904 with a drawing. Republished by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939, from the edition by Littmann.


ܐܢܐ ܪܒܘܠܐ ܥܒܕܝܬ ܬܪܘܢܘܣ
ܕܘܟܪ(ܢܢ) ܢܗܘܐ ܠܒܘܪܟܬܐ
Μ-
ω-
ρ-
α-
ν-
α-
ς

1. ܐܖܐ = AR(D)A Littmann AAES IV, ܐܢܐ Littmann PAES IVB || ܥܒܕ ܝܬ Littmann AAES IV, ܥܒܕܝܬ Littmann PAES IVB || 2. ܩܛ Littmann AAES IV, ܢܗܘܐ Littmann PAES IVB || whole line: ܕܘܟܪܢܗ ܩܛ ܠܒܘܪܟܬܐ Littmann AAES IV, ܕܘܟܪ(ܢܢ) ܢܗܘܐ ܠܒܘܪܟܬܐ Littmann PAES IVB

Top band: 'I, Rabūlā, made the throne.'
Left-hand column: 'Our memory be forever blessed!'
Right-hand column: 'Moranas' (written with Greek letters)

Text: Littmann 1904, 47, no. 22 = IGLS 2, no. 313 with changes from Littmann 1934, pp. 65-66. Translation: E. Littman.

Littmann noted that the inscription was difficult to read because of several unusual or erroneous abbreviations. The meaning of the first word on the top band is uncertain. It might be a title of the Rabūlā mentioned in the same line, e.g. 'archdeacon' or 'spiritual father' (i.e. a monk or abbot). Littmann believed that the inscription commemorated the erection of the episcopal throne, perhaps with the subsellia (seats for the clergy), by this Rabūlā, whom he hypothetically identified with Rabūlā, the famous bishop of Edessa (in office 412-435). Littmann pointed out that the latter was born near Chalkis and Zabad, and that some portions of his wealth, which he distributed in c. AD 385, after his conversion to Christianity, might have been used to found our basilica. Another possibility, he considered, was that Rabūlā retired to the monastery in Zabad. Although interesting, this theory is implausible and based on an unjustified identification of two homonymous figures; these chancel-screens and inscriptions must be contemporary with, or post-date, the building of the church in AD 511 (E01817).

The word written in Greek letters, 'Moranas', is probably a name. Littmann believed that he was the same man as the Maronas λιθοτόμος ('stone-cutter') who occurs in another Greek inscription from Zabad, dated AD 337 (see: IGLS 2, no. 315). However this equation of two Rabūlās (see previous paragraph), and of Maronas with Moronas, is based on an impossible chronology, and the coincidence of names must be fortuitous. It is possible that our Moranas was also a stone-cutter, adding his name in Greek after the Syriac inscription, but this is not certain.

In PAES IVB (= Littmann 1934) Littmann offers further comments on the Syriac inscription. Based on his readings of PAES IVB 52 and 62 Littman reads there ܐܢܐ and ܥܒܕܝܬ as a single verb: ‘I, Rabūlā, made the throne. As for ܩܛ, he now reads it ܘܐ and connects as ܢܗܘܐ. Also the third person must be changed to the first person due to the changes in line 1. So Littmann restores the line as ܕܘܟܪ(ܢܢ) ܢܗܘܐ ܠܒܘܪܟܬܐ, ‘may our memory be blessed!’

For further comments, see: Littmann 1904, 48-52.

Inscription 3:

A basalt panel in the chancel screen of the basilica, third from the north. H. 0.88 m; W. 1.03 m. The inscription is written across the top and on the right-hand border. Letter height 0.03-0.05 m.

Recorded by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900 (squeezes, photograph). First published by Enno Littmann in 1904. Republished by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939, from the edition by Littmann and a new photograph by Charles-Léonce Brossé.

+ Ραβουλα, Βασσωνι, Σέργις
β-
ε-
ρ-
ε<χ>

δ-
ο-
υ-
χ-
ρ-
α-
ν-
α-
ν

Top border: '+ (Of?) Rabūlā, Bassōnis, Sergios' or '(Of?) Rabūlā, son of Bassōnis. O, Sergios!'
Right-hand border: 'Bless our memory!' (in Syriac, written with Greek letters)

Text: Littmann 1904, 52, no. 23 = IGLS 2, no. 314. Translation E. Littmann, adapted.

Littmann notes that, despite the good quality of the letters, the interpretation of this inscription is difficult. Line 1 contains the names of donors. The Rabūlā, mentioned at the beginning of the line is probably identical with the person referred to in Inscription 2 above. It is possible that the other two names, Bassōnis and Sergios, are of two more donors, or that we have here the name of the father of Rabūlā and an invocation of the martyr Sergios, the patron saint of the church (as Littmann argued that the last word was a Greek transcription of the vocative form of the Syriac name of the saint, and not the Greek nominative Σέργις).

The right-hand column is especially interesting, as it offers us a Syriac text written with Greek letters. The phrase means 'Bless our memory!' and can be transcribed back to Syriac as: ܒܪܝܟ ܕܘܟܪܢ. Littmann suggested that this was not a request addressed to God, but to saint Sergios (a continuation of the invocation from the end of the top border), and that it was formulated either on behalf of the donors from line 1 or of the whole local community.

For further comments, see: Littmann 1904, 52-54.

Inscription 4:

A basalt panel of the chancel screen of the basilica, first from the north. H. 0.90 m; W. 0.84 m. The inscription is written across the top and on the right-hand border. Letter height 0.035-0.055 m.

Recorded by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900 (squeeze, photograph). First published by Enno Littmann in 1904. Republished by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939, from the edition by Littmann.

Ζαωρθα σαμα-
σ-
θ-
α

'Za'ōrtā the deaconess.'

(Text: Littmann 1904, 55, no. 24 = IGLS 2, no. 312. Translation Enno Littmann.)

The inscription is composed in Syriac, but written with Greek letters, just like Inscription 3 above. The Syriac original would read: ܙܥܘܪܬܐ ܫܡܣܬܐ. Littmann noted that in terms of palaeography, the text was very similar to Inscription 3 and the two were probably contemporary. It gives us the name of a deaconess who probably contributed to the construction of the chancel screen.

History

Evidence ID

E01818

Saint Name

Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023

Saint Name in Source

Σέργις

Image Caption 1

Inscription 1, photograph. From: http://vrc.princeton.edu/archives/items/show/10104

Image Caption 2

Inscription 1, photograph. From: Prentice 1908, 270.

Image Caption 3

Inscription 2, drawing. From: Littmann 1904, 47.

Image Caption 4

Drawing of the chancel screen. From: Littmann 1904, 46.

Image Caption 5

Photograph of the chancel screen. From: Littmann 1904, 47.

Image Caption 6

Photograph of the chancel screen from the Howard Crosby Butler Archive. From: http://vrc.princeton.edu/archives/items/show/10103

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

511

Evidence not after

512

Activity not before

511

Activity not after

512

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Chalkis Beroia Zebed

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

Chalkis Thabbora Thabbora Beroia Thabbora Thabbora Zebed Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people Merchants and artisans

Discussion

Though Inscriptions 2 and 3 do not reproduce the same text, Littmann assumed that they were meant to be Syriac and Greek counterparts of each other. Based on this supposition, he suggested that there might also have been corresponding panels for Inscriptions 1 and 3, with inscriptions written with Syriac letters, later lost. This is, of course, not necessarily the case, as each of the inscriptions seems to be an independent, complete text, and none is exactly paralleled by another.

Bibliography

Inscription 1: Edition: Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L. (eds.), Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 311. Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Greek and Latin Inscriptions (Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, 3, New York: Century 1908), 270, no. 337. Further reading: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 3/2: Antioche (suite). Antiochène: nos. 989-1242 (BAH 51, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1953), 683 (addendum), 683. Littman, E. (ed.), Semitic Inscriptions (Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, 4, New York: Century, 1904), 55, comments to no. 24. Inscription 2: Edition: Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L. (eds.), Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 313. Littman, E. (ed.), Semitic inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, 4, New York: Century, 1904), 47-52, no. 22. Inscription 3: Edition: Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L. (eds.), Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 314. Littman, E. (ed.), Semitic Inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, 4, New York: Century, 1904), 52-54, no. 23. Inscription 4: Edition: Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L. (eds.), Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 312. Littman, E. (ed.), Semitic Inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, 4, New York: Century, 1904), 55-56, no. 24. See also: Yon, J.-B., "De l’araméen en grec", in: P.-L. Gatier, J.-B. Yon, Mélanges en l'honneur de Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais (Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph 60, Bibliothèque Orientale - Dar El-Machreq, 2007), 413-420. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 57, 1774.

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