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E01874: Greek inscription on a lintel, invoking the God of an unnamed Archangel. Found at Androna (modern al-Andarin), to the east of Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Dated probably 533/534.

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posted on 30.09.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
ΧΜΓ ὁ θε(ὸς) γέλου, βοή-
<τ>οῦ ἀρχαν- θι. ἔτ(ους) εμωʹ,
ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) αιʹ +

1-2. ὁ θε(ὸς) <τ>οῦ ἀρχανγέλου Mouterde, ὁ θε(ὸς) Ἰ(ακώβ)ου, ἀρχάνγελος Prentice || 2. perhaps ἐτε(λι)ώ(θι) Prentice

'ΧΜΓ. O God of the Archangel, help! In the year 845, 11th indiction. +'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1707.

History

Evidence ID

E01874

Saint Name

Archangels (unspecified) : S00191 Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Gabriel, the Archangel : S00192

Saint Name in Source

ἀρχάνγελος

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

550

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

550

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Androna

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

Androna Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Source

A 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.

Discussion

Despite 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.

Bibliography

Edition: 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. Further reading: 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.

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