Saint NameArchangels (unspecified) : S00191
Michael, the Archangel : S00181
Gabriel, the Archangel : S00192
Saint Name in Sourceἀρχάνγελος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after550
Activity not before500
Activity not after550
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAndrona
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Androna
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceA stone lintel. Broken and lost at both ends. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.48 m; W. 1.83. The inscription is in low-relief, between two circles, it is divided into two columns by a third circle. Fine lettering. Letter height 0.13-0.17 m.
Found c. 100 yards to the south of Church 7 by the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Syria, partially buried. First published with a drawing by William Prentice in 1922. Republished by René Mouterde in 1955, based on the edition by Prentice.
DiscussionDespite its considerable size and fine carving, the inscription is not easy to read and understand. It begins with the ΧΜΓ symbol, whose meaning has not been reliably established so far. Then follows an invocation of God. Prentice suggested that God was here described as the 'God of Jacob', not without a reason, as the Old Testament patriarch Jacob was frequently invoked in Syriac inscriptions, in a set Biblical quotation. Mouterde, however, plausibly identified the ligature after the abbreviated word θεός as the article τοῦ referring to the unnamed Archangel. Therefore, it is more likely that we have here an invocation of the God of the Archangel than of the God of Jacob. The Archangel is almost certainly Michael or Gabriel, as evidenced by other inscriptions from Androna (E01630: a church of Michael; E01631: boundary stone of a church of Michael; E01632: hostel of the holy Archangels; E01636: asylum of an Archangel in the so-called 'double church', presumably dedicated to Michael and Gabriel).
The inscription might come from the church near which it was found, and might commemorate the completion of the whole building or of a specific room.
Dating: the date, given as the 845th year of the Seleucid era, corresponds to AD 533/534. However, the 11th indiction, also specified, falls neither in 533 nor in 534. Therefore, either the era year or the indiction year was incorrectly computed by the authors of this invocation.
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. 1707.
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), 45, no. 913.
Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 18-19.
For general descriptions of Androna, see also:
Mundell Mango, M., "Androna and the late antique cities of Oriens" in: E. Rizos (ed.), New Cities in Late Antiquity. Documents and Archaeology (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité Tardive 35, Turnhout: Brepols, 2017), 189-204.
Mundell Mango, M., "Byzantine settlement expansion in north central Syria: the case of Androna/Andarin", in: A. Borrut, M. Debié, A. Papaconstantinou, D. Pieri, J.-P. Sodini (eds.), Le Proche-Orient de Justinien aux Abassides : peuplement et dynamiques spatiales : actes du colloque "Continuités de l'occupation entre les périodes byzantine et abbasside au Proche-Orient, VIIe-IXe siècles," Paris, 18-20 octobre 2007 (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 19, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 93-122.