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E01829: Inscribed marble reliquaries from the 'Atrium church' in Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria), containing relics of *Kosmas and Damianos (brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, S00385), of *Theodore (probably the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), and of other 'various saints'. Probably 6th c.

online resource
posted on 02.09.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Reliquary 1:

Small marble chest in the form of a sarcophagus. H. 0.47 m; W. 0.47 m; L. 0.92 m. Lid: H. 0.238 m; W. 0.476 m; L. 0.918 m. The cavity for relics measures only 0.50 m x 0.25 m and is equipped with a channel for the extraction of fluids, leading to an open hollowed extension, resembling a vase or a basin, added to the outer narrow side of the chest. The lid has acroteria, and a round hole (for the introduction of fluids). The inscription is engraved on the wide side of the chest.

Found in the 'martyrium' chapel of the Atrium church, on a base of stone blocks, in the northeast section of the room. The chest is now in the Musées royaux d'Art et d'Histoire in Brussels, the lid in the National Museum in Damascus. First published by Fernand Mayence and Hippolyte Delehaye in 1935.

Inscription:

+ λίψανα τῶν ἁγίων Κοσμᾶ
καὶ Δαμιανοῦ
(καὶ) διαφόρων ἁγίων +

'+ Relics of Saints Kosma and Damianos (and) of various saints. +'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1338. For a description see: Comte 2012, 365-366.

Reliquary 2:

Small white marble chest in the form of a sarcophagus. H. 0.50 m; W. 0.42 m; L. 0.87 m. The narrow side is equipped with an open, hollowed extension resembling a vase or a basin, meant for collecting fluids that had passed through the relics. The inscription is engraved on the wide side.

Found in the 'martyrium' chapel of the atrium church, near a base of stone blocks, in the south section of the room. The lid is missing. The chest is now in now in the National Museum in Damascus. First published by Fernand Mayence and Hippolyte Delehaye in 1935.

Inscription:

+ λίψανα τοῦ ἁγίου Θεοδώρου
καὶ διαφόρων ἁγίων +

'+ Relics of Saint Theodore and of various saints. +'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1339. For a description see: Comte 2012, 366.

Reliquary 3:

Small broken marble chest in the form of a sarcophagus, most of which is lost. Dimensions of the preserved two fragments: Fragment of the chest: W. 0.54 m; L. 0.43 m. Fragment of the lid: H. 0.23 m; W. 0.53 m; L. 0.96 m. The lid bears a carving of a cross and has a hole for the input of fluids. The wide side was decorated with two rosettes within circles, framed by two concentric rectangles.

The fragment of the lid was found in 1934, in the 'martyrium' chapel of the Atrium church, in the northeast section of the stone base. The fragment of the chest was found in 1966 outside the church, in the southeast corner of the atrium. Now in the Musées royaux d'Art et d'Histoire in Brussels.

This reliquary has no inscription. See: Comte 2012, 366-367.

Reliquary 4 (?):

A small moulded fragment, probably a piece of a stone sarcophagus, was found reused in one of the doorways of the church. Now in the Musées royaux d'Art et d'Histoire in Brussels. For a description, see: Comte 2012, 368.

History

Evidence ID

E01829

Saint Name

Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060 Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs in Syria, ob. 285/287 : S00385 Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480

Saint Name in Source

μάρτυρες μάρτυρες Κοσμᾶς καὶ Δαμιανός Θεοδώρος

Image Caption 1

Plan of the church. Phase 1. From: Donceel-Voûte 1988, 216.

Image Caption 2

Plan of the church. Phase 2. From: Donceel-Voûte 1988, 216. The 'martyrium' is the rectangular chamber immediately to the north of the chancel of the church.

Image Caption 3

Photographs of the reliquary of Kosma and Damianos. From: Kalinowski 2013, Plate 79a.

Image Caption 4

Drawing of the cavity in the reliquary of Kosma and Damianos. From: Kalinowski 2013, Plate 79b.

Image Caption 5

Photograph of the reliquary of Theodore (with the lid of the reliquary of Kosma and Damianos). From: Kalinowski 2013, Plate 78.

Image Caption 6

Drawing of the reconstruction of Reliquary 3. From: Kalinowski 2013, 80.

Type of Evidence

Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Inscriptions - Inscribed objects

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil Making contact relics Reliquary – institutionally owned Collections of multiple relics

Source

The so-called Atrium church in Apamea is situated in the southeast section of the city, near the Great Colonnaded Street. The church was first examined between 1932 and 1938 in the course of the excavations by the Belgian archaeological mission, supervised by Fernand Mayence. The archaeologists found three reliquaries in a chamber which, they said, was added to the north section of the church probably in the 6th c., and which they termed the 'martyrium'. Excavations were resumed after World War II: in the period 1947-1953 and in 1965-1967, this time under the supervision of Jean-Charles Balty. The first phase of the church dates to c. 415-420, when the building was constructed over a synagogue, as a simple three-aisled structure (c. 20.80 m x 22.50 m) with an apse flanked by two rooms, of which the northern one may have been devoted to the cult of martyrs, and with a portico added to the west wall. The building was significantly refurbished in the first half of the 6th c. The new church had a complicated plan with two rectangular rooms flanking an elongated section of the choir immediately before the central apse, with a synthronon in the central apse, with two apses in the north and south aisles, and with a large trapezoidal atrium to the West (which gave the church its modern name). The rectangular room to the northeast housed at least three reliquaries, displayed on stone bases, and was termed the 'martyrium' by the excavators. It was larger than the earlier chamber in replaced, and was accessible both through a doorway from the west (from the choir) and through another, small doorway from the north. Its floor was paved with mosaics. After a fire in the 6th c., the floor of the chamber was paved with marble. The last phase dates probably to the early 7th c. when a presumed cemetery ad-sanctos was created near the north wall of the church and the walls of the apse were strengthened.

Discussion

The reliquaries are usually connected with the second phase of the existence of the church. It is supposed that they were all displayed in the room identified as the martyr-shrine/'martyrium'. The inscription on Reliquary 1 says that it contained relics of Kosma and Damianos, famous holy physician, whose cult originated probably in nearby Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus and is also attested by an inscription from a boundary stone at Ḥamāh' (E01926). As argued by Hippolyte Delehaye, the identity of Saint Theodore of Reliquary 2 is more problematic. Giving no arguments, he eventually stated that this must have been Theodore, a martyred soldier venerated in Euchaita in Pontus (northeast Asia Minor, see: S00480), and this possibility was accepted by, for example, Marie-Christine Comte and Anja Kalinowski, authors of the most complex studies of these reliquaries. The most striking features of these reliquaries are the holes in their lids and their projecting funnels for collecting fluids, two features that would allow liquids (almost certainly oil) to flow through the relics, and collect sanctity in the process. These reliquaries were carefully designed to produce further (contact) relics. Another interesting feature are the inscriptions saying that relics of other unnamed saints were kept inside the chests together with those of the famous figures. It is supposed that the expression καὶ διαφόρων ἁγίων/'and of various saints' at least on Reliquary 1 was added to the original text by a person having poor skills in engraving inscriptions (see: Comte 2012, 99, note 2; Donceel-Voûte 1988, 533, note 109). This supposition gave rise to the theory that the collection of relics housed in the church was gradually enlarged, and that, after the initial deposition of relics of Kosmas and Damianos, and of Theodore, those of other saints were acquired (though, in the case of Reliquary 2, the additional phrase looks contemporary with that recording the relics of Theodore). Unfortunately, we cannot say which saints these might have been.

Bibliography

Edition: 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), 99-100; 363-368 (with further bibliography). Kalinowski, A., Frühchristliche Reliquiare im Kontext von Kultstrategien, Heilserwartung und sozialer Selbstdarstellu (Spätantike – Frühes Christentum Byzanz 32, Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2011), 107-109. Ruprechtsberger, E.M., "46. Reliquien sarkophag", in: E.M. Ruprechtsberger (ed.), Syrien. Von den Aposteln zu den Kalifen [Ausstellung Stadtmuseum Linz-Nordico, 3.Dezember 1993 bis 4.April 1994 ; Schloss Schallaburg, 30.April 1994 bis 30.Oktober 1994 ; Bergbaumuseum Klagenfurt, 2.Dezember 1994 bis 1.April 1995] (Mainz : Ph. von Zabern, 1993), 419-420, no. 46 (Reliquary 2, published without knowledge of earlier editions). Buschhausen, H., Die spätrömischen Metallscrinia und frühchristlichen Reliquiare (Wiener byzantinistische Studien 9, Wien: , 1971), 305-307, nos. C53, Plate C 22. Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, Cl., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 4: Laodicée, Apamène (BAH 61, Paris: Librairie orientalise Paul Geuthner, 1955), nos. 1338-1339 (with further bibliography). Balty J.-Ch., Napoleone-Lemaire, J., L'église à atrium de la grande colonnade (Fouilles d'Apamée de Syrie vol 1, part 1; Bruselles: Centre belge de recherches archéologiques à Apamée de Syrie, 1969), 57-69 (especially 63, no. 1, Plates 53, 4-5). Delehaye, H., "Saints et reliquaires d'Apamée", Analecta Bollandiana 53 (1935), 225-244. Mayence, F., “La quatrième campagne de fouilles à Apamée de Syrie”, Bulletin des Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (1935), 4-7 [reprinted in: L'antiquité classique 4 (1935), 199-204]. Further reading: De Bruyne, Rivista di archeologia cristiana, 13 (1936), 333ff 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, vol. 69, 1988), 216-225 (with further bibliography). Kalinowski, A., Frühchristliche Reliquiare im Kontext von Kultstrategien, Heilserwartung und sozialer Selbstdarstellu (Spätantike – Frühes Christentum Byzanz 32, Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2011), 74. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1994), 619. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 43, 1020, 1024.

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