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E01834: Greek building inscriptions for metata (transit camps) named after military saints: *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023), *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, 00480), *Longinos (centurion at the Crucifixion, S00926), *George (soldier and martyr, S00259), and *Michael (the Archangel, S00181). Found in various locations in north and central Syria. Dated: 468-477, 524/525, and 526.

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posted on 05.09.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:
Limestone lintel, broken and lost at the right-hand end. H. 0.70 m; W. 1.25 m; Th. 0.46 m. The inscription is below a moulded band. Letter height 0.66 m. There is no published image.

Found in Raphaneai, between Apamea on the Orontes and Emesa (central Syria), amongst ruins with remnants of arches, near a spring (described by René Mouterde as a nymphaeum). First seen and copied by captain Vuilloud, a French military man, serving in Syria. A drawing and photograph were taken by René Mouterde when he revisited the site in April 1938. First referred to by Mouterde in 1949. The proper edition followed in 1955.

+ μητᾶτον τοῦ ἁγίου Σεργίου [μ]άρτυρο[ς - - -]

1. μητᾶτον Mouterde, ιμτατον Vuilloud

'+ Metaton of Saint Sergios, martyr [- - -]'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1397.

Dating: Mouterde dated the inscription to the 6th or 7th c., based on the forms of the letters.

Inscription 2:
A large lintel. Decorated with a carving of a square in the middle. Badly weathered. There is no detailed description or published image.

Found over the doorway of a tower in Al-Burj, between Amathe/Ḥamāh and Chalkis (north Syria). First recorded by the Princeton Expedition to Syria and published by William Prentice in 1922 (this editor, however, did not understand the first word). Republished with corrected readings by René Mouterde partially in 1949/1950 and completely in 1955, based on the edition by Prentice, without a new examination of the stone or photographs.

μητᾶτον τοῦ ἀρχανγέλο[υ] Μηχαὴλ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου
Λονγίνου τοῦ ἑκατοντάρχου· ἐκτήσθη ὁ πύργος οὗτος, ἔτους ζλωʹ, μ(ηνὸς) Παν(ήμου)

1. μητᾶτον Mouterde, μ(ε)τὰ τõν Prentice || 1-2. τοῦ ἁγίου Λονγίνου, τοῦ ἑκατοντάρχου, ἐκτήσθη ὁ πύργος Prentice

'Metaton of the Archangel Michael and of Saint Longinos the Centurion. This tower (pyrgos) was built in the year 837, in the month of Panemos.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1610.

Dating: the date given according to the Seleucid era (the year 837, the month of Panemos), corresponds to July, AD 526.

Inscription 3:
Stone lintel, broken and lost at both ends. H. 0.38 m; W. 1.49 m. The inscription is engraved in two columns, flanking a carving of a cross within a circle. Another cross is to the right of the right-hand column. Letter height 0.05-0.09 m.

Found on the ground, in the courtyard of the church in Nawa, to the south of Apamea on the Orontes. First published, with a drawing by William Prentice, from a copy by Enno Littmann. Republished by René Mouterde in 1955.

[ἔ]τους μη(νὸς) Δίου λʹ,
[.]πψʹ, ἐπὶ Δανι-
ήλου φρ(οντιστοῦ)
τοῦ μ(ητάτου) (?) Σεργίου

3. φρ(οντιστοῦ) Feissel and Kaygusuz, φρ(ουράρχου) rather than φρ(ουμενταρίου) Mouterde, φρ = πρ(εσβυτέρου) Prentice || 4. ΤΟΥΜ ΣΕΡΓΙΟΥ copy, μ(ητάτου) or μ(άρτυρος) (?) Mouterde, τοῦ μ(άρτυρος) Σεργίου Prentice

'In the year 78[.], on 30th of the month of Dios, under Daniel, steward (phrontistes) of the metaton (?) of Sergios.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1952 with completions by Feissel and Kaygusuz.

The inscription records the completion of an unspecified construction, certainly the building or its part, where the lintel was originally displayed. There have been several suggestions on expanding the abbreviations in lines 3 and 4 of the second column. William Prentice, the first editor, believed that the construction was supervised by a presbyter, but Mouterde, Feissel, and Kaygusuz pointed out that it was much more likely that the title of this figure was either phrourarches ('commander of the garrison') or simply phrontistes ('steward'). As for line 4, it is not clear, whether the name of Saint Sergios is preceded by a designation of the building, named after the saint ('metaton') or by the title of the saint ('martyr'). Of these two, the first option is preferred by Elizabeth Key-Fowden, who points to parallel inscriptions, naming metata in the region.

Dating: The partially preserved date, given in line 2, and computed according to the Seleucid era, must range from 780 to 789, which corresponds to AD 468-477.

Inscription 4:
A basalt lintel. H. 0.38 m; W. 1.92 m. The inscription is written in two columns, to the right and to the left of a carving of a cross within a circle, in low-relief.

Found at Ghour, in the territory of Emesa/Ḥimṣ. First recorded before 1900 by Henri Lammens. This scholar made a squeeze and took an imperfect copy of the text, as the lintel was partially covered by a wall. The stone was revisited by René Mouterde, apparently unaware of Lammens' find, and published by him together with a drawing in 1928. Republished by Louis Jalabert, René Mouterde, and Claude Mondésert in 1959.

μητ(ᾶτον) τ(οῦ) ἁγ(ίου) Λ- ονγίν(ου) κ(αὶ) τ(οῦ) ἁγ(ίου)
Θεοδώρ(ου) κ(αὶ) τ(οῦ) ἁ- γ(ίου) Γεοργ(ίου) τ(οῦ) ϛλωʹ

'Metaton of Saint Longinos, and of Saint Theodore, and of Saint George. In the (year) 836.'

Text: IGLS 5, no. 2155.

Dating: the year, here computed according to the Seleucid era as 836, corresponds to AD 524/525.

History

Evidence ID

E01834

Saint Name

Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023 Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480 George, martyr in Nicomedia or Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259 Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Longinos, th

Saint Name in Source

Σέργιος Θεοδώρος Γεόργιος Μηχαήλ Λονγῖνος

Image Caption 1

Drawing of Inscription 3. From: Prentice 1922, 14.

Image Caption 2

Drawing of Inscription 4. From: Mouterde 1928, 167.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

468

Evidence not after

526

Activity not before

468

Activity not after

526

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Raphaneai Apamea on the Orontes Ḥimṣ/Emesa Al-Burj Ḥamāh Chalkis Nawa

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

Raphaneai Thabbora Thabbora Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Ḥimṣ/Emesa Thabbora Thabbora Al-Burj Thabbora Thabbora Ḥamāh Thabbora Thabbora Chalkis Thabbora Thabbora Nawa Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Towns, villages, districts and fortresses

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Officials

Discussion

The listed inscriptions mention metata named after soldier saints. The functions of these buildings have been a matter of dispute, but these four from northern and central Syria were almost certainly military transit camps (see below). Frank Trombley (2004, p. 85) argues that 'the function of these installations was to regularise billeting and supply in order to prevent military formations on the march from imposing unofficial super-indictions for lodging and supplies on the villages.' In other regions, less exposed to invasions, metata were hostels for pilgrims or clerics: see E00807 from Miletus in west Asia Minor. The theory that here we have military camps was originally based on the alleged reference to a phrouarches/'commander of a garrison' in Inscription 3, but this expansion of the abbreviated word was later rejected by Feissel and Kaygusuz. They showed that the metaton in question was under the supervision of a phrontistes/'steward'. However, since the saints named as the patrons of these buildings were all earthly or heavenly soldiers, the identification of these metata as military quarters seems clear. Four of these saints - Theodore (martyr of Euchaita in northeast Asia Minor), Sergios (of Resafa), George (with his principal shrine at Diospolis in Palestine), and Michael the Archangel - appear frequently in inscriptions over the whole of the Near East, so their presence here is not surprising. On the other hand, Longinos is here uniquely invoked (a capital from 'Aila near 'Aqaba in Palaestina III bears a labelled image of the saint, but no invocation, see E02617). As the name is quite distinct and not popular in the East, he is certainly the centurion who witnessed the death of Jesus and who was believed to have converted to Christianity. The association of five soldier saints with military camps is interesting as an early example of soldiers in life coming to play a specialised role as soldiers in the afterlife, a function that reached its full development in the soldier saints of the middle Byzantine period. For comments on other metata from the East, see: E01632 (a metaton of unspecified Archangels), and IGLS 4, no. 1385 (not named after any saint). See also: E01875.

Bibliography

Edition: Inscription 1: 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), no. 1397 and p. 357 (Addendum). Mouterde, R., "A Travers l'Apamène", Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph (Beyrouth, Lebanon) 28 (1949-1950), 38. Mouterde, R., Poidebard, A., Le limes de Chalcis: organisation de la steppe en haute Syrie romaine: documents aériens et épigraphiques (Paris: P. Geuthner 1945), 31. Inscription 2: 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), no. 1610. Mouterde, R., "A Travers l'Apamène", Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph (Beyrouth, Lebanon) 28 (1949-1950), 30, note 4. Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Publications of the Princeton University of archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 112, no. 1058. Inscription 3: Feissel, D., Kaygusuz, I., "Un mandement impérial du VIe siècle dans une inscription d'Hadrianoupolis d'Honoriade", Travaux et mémoires de centre de recherche d histoire et civilisation de Byzance 9 (1985), 417, note 87. 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. 1952. Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Publications of the Princeton University of archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 14, no. 834. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 35, 1487. Inscription 4: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2155. Mouterde, R., in: F. Cumont, "Nouvelles archéologiques", Syria 9 (1928), 167 (with a drawing). MUSJ 12 (1927), 274. Lammens, H., “Le pays des Nosairis. Itinéraire et notes archéologiques”, Le musée belge: revue de philologie classique 4 (1900), 293, no. 19 (squeeze, copy). Cf. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie. Supplément. Conclusion", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 335. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 7, 110. Further reading: Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, II, Les deux Phénicies et et les deux Syries", Analecta Bollandiana 67 (1949), 115. Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: St. Sergius between Rome and Iran (Transformation of the classical heritage 28, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 113-114. Rey-Coquais, J.-P., “Inscriptions grecques chrétiennes de Syrie”, in: P. Canivet, J.-P. Rey-Coquais (eds.), Mémorial Monseigneur Joseph Nasrallah (Damascus: Institut français du Proche-Orient, 2006), 37-89?????? Trombley F.R., "Epigraphic data on village culture and social institutions: an interregional comparison (Syria, Phoenice Libanensis and Arabia)", in: W. Bodwen, L. Lavan, C. Machado (eds.), Recent Reseacrh on the Late Antique Countryside (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2004), 85.

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