File(s) not publicly available

E01823: One of the panels of the Yakto mosaic shows 'the workshops of the martyr shrine (martyrion)', possibly that of *Babylas (bishop and martyr in Antioch, S00061). Found at Yakto near Antioch-on-the-Orontes (north Syria). Second half of the 5th c.

online resource
posted on 29.08.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
This famous mosaic was found by Claude Prost, Curator of the then Museum of Antioch, in November 1932 during the work of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity, in Yakto, 2 km to the north of Daphne, the suburbs of Antioch-on-the-Orontes, at the site of a fifth-century villa. W. c. 8.50 m; L. c. 7 m.

Its existence was first reported by Jean Lassus in 1933 and a publication followed in 1934. Since then, the mosaic has been often republished and discussed anew, because of its great importance for the study of the topography and architecture of late antique Antioch. Now in the Hatay Archaeological Museum.

The composition of the mosaic is divided into three main sections: the central medallion shows a female figure holding roses, being an allegory of Megalopsychia/'Magnanimity'. It is surrounded by depictions of four combats with animals. The last section, the most important for us, is the border showing street scenes within the city of Antioch and Daphne, backed by buildings (e.g. the Olympic Stadium at Daphne, the octagonal church/domus aurea, the city gate, and the bridge over the Orontes) and people working and enjoying their time among them.

Among the day-to-day life scenes one, situated in the southern border, one shows a long building with one big doorway and one small window. The building is between the Olympic Stadium (τὸ Ὀλυμπιακόν), which suggests that it was located in Daphne, and a building named ὁ περίπατος/'the meeting place'. In front of our building there are two people, apparently named Chalkomas and Markellos. The latter is wearing a crown and lying on cushions next to a cup and an amphora. The other, probably his servant, is passing him an amphora. A dog and three more figures: a man, a woman, and possibly an adolescent, are shown to the right of the building, talking.

The building is labelled:

τὰ ἐργαστήρια τοῦ μαρτυρίου

'The workshops of the martyr shrine (martyrion)'

Text: IGLS 3/2, no. 998.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060 Babylas, bishop and martyr in Antioch, and his companions, ob. 282-284 : S00061

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Images and objects - Narrative scenes Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes Daphne Yakto

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Daphne Thabbora Thabbora Yakto Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Other

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Merchants and artisans


The scene was originally interpreted as taking place in front of workshops, providing revenues for the martyr shrine of Babylas at Daphne, the one closed by the emperor Julian. However, after Julian had removed martyr's relics from the site, the building was left abandoned, as reported by John Chrysostom (E00095). It is, therefore, more probable that these workshops, still situated in Daphne, were in possession of the new martyr shrine of Babylas, built outside the city-walls by bishop Meletios in 379/380 (see: E01753). The identification of the martyr, whose cult is implied here, with Babylas is justified, as he was the principal saint and martyr of Antioch, and his shrine served as the burial place for bishops and later patriarchs, and the use of the definite article in the label identifies the building as the most prominent sanctuary of this kind in the city ('the martyr shrine'). Dating: The date of the entire floor-mosaic was established based on the labelled depiction of the villa of Ardaburius, magister militum residing at Antioch in 450s. The mosaic must predate the earthquake of 526 which destroyed the Olympic Stadium, as the building is shown intact.


Edition: Now also: Mayer, W., Allen, P., The Churches of Syrian Antioch (300-638 CE) (Leuven - Paris - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2012). Cimok, F. (ed.), Antioch Mosaics. A Corpus (Istanbul: A Turizm Yayinlari, 2000), no. 17. Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R. (eds.), Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 3/2: Antioche (suite). Antiochène: nos. 989-1242 (BAH 51, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1953), no. 998 (with further bibliography up to 1953). Levi, D. (ed.), Antioch Mosaic Pavements (Princeton: Princeton University Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1947), XY. Lassus, J., "La mosaïque de Yakto", in: G.W. Elderkin (ed.), Antioch-on-the-Orontes, vol. 1: Excavations 1932 (Princeton-London-Den Haag 1934), XY Further reading: Alpi, F., "Société et vie profane à Antioche sous le patriarcat de Sévère (512-518)", in: B. Cabouret and others (eds.), Antioche de Syrie: histoire, images et traces de la ville antique: colloque organisé par B. Cabouret, P.-L. Gatier et C. Saliou, Lyon, Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 4,5,6 octobre 2001 (TOPOI Supplément 5; Lyon : Maison de l'Orient Méditerranéen; Paris: De Boccard, 2004), 519-542. Campbell, W.A., "Excavations at Antioch-on-the-Orontes", American Journal of Archaeology 38/2 (1934), 201-206 (for a description of the whereabouts of the find, and a drawing). Lassus, J., "La mosaïque découverte à Yakto, près d'Antioche par M. Prost", Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 77/3 (1933), 342-343 (first report). Lassus, J., "", [in:] R. Stillwell and others (ed.), Antioch-on-the-Otontes, vol. 2: The Excavations 1933-1936 (Princeton: Princeton Univeristy Press, London: Oxford University Press, the Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938), XY (for a description of the find-spot). Soler, E., Le sacré et le salut à Antioche au IVe siècle apr. J.-C. Pratiques festives et comportements religieux dans le processus de christianisation de la cité (Beirut: Institut français du Proche-Orient, 2006). For the shrines of Babylas, see: 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. 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. For photographs, see: and the following items. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 13, 593; 54, 1592; 55, 1598; 56, 1858.

Usage metrics