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E01882: Labelled relief of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) with her Child, a possible invocation of *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023), and a building inscription, all from a church dedicated to Mary at Rouweyḍa near Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Dated 554/555.

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posted on 01.10.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Relief:

The depiction is on a basalt lintel, broken and lost at both ends, and at the bottom. In the middle of the stone there is a carving of a square with two peacocks and the letters Α and Ω. Above the square there is a relief showing Mary in majesty with her Child on her lap. The labels read as follows:

[τ]οῦ ἔ- ἡ Μ- ς
τ- ἁ- α- ξ
ο- γί- ρ- ω΄
υ- α ί-
ς α Σ- ργ-
έ- ις

'In the year 866. The Holy Mary. Sergis'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1790.

The date, here computed according to the Seleucid era, flanks the depiction and name of Mary, and corresponds to AD 554/555. The name Sergios, appearing next to the dating formula, could refer to the martyr Sergios, to a supplicant, or perhaps even to the artisan who executed the relief (as suggested by Mouterde and Lassus). Sergios, whose main cult site was at Rusafa in eastern Syria, was widely venerated in the Near East, so an invocation to him is not unlikely; on the other hand, the inscription does not designate our Sergios as a saint, and the name was also common in the region.

Building inscription:

The inscription is on a lintel, found near the church and probably originally displayed over one of its doorways. Broken and lost at both ends. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.51 m; W. 0.88 m. The text is written above two carvings of crosses within circles.

[εὐκτήριο]ν (?) τῆς ἁγίας Μαρίας· ἔτο[υς - - -]
 [- - - Θ]ωμᾶ διακ(όνου) [- - -]

2. perhaps σπουδῇ Θ]ωμᾶ or προσφορὰ Θ]ωμᾶ Lassus

'[Oratory (eukterion) (?)] of the Holy Mary. (Built) in the year [- - -] of Thomas, the deacon [- - -].'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1791.

The inscription probably commemorates the construction of our church by a deacon Thomas, and its dedication to Mary. The designation of the shrine was in the lost left-hand end of line 1. As it was a neuter word, the editors plausibly restore it as εὔκτηριον/'oratory', but one must keep in mind that actually any other neuter name of a shrine is also possible, for example μαρτύριον (for a μαρτύριον/'memorial shrine' dedicated to Mary, see: E01627, cf. E01876).

Unfortunately, the date of the construction is lost, but it must have been close to the date of the execution of the relief.

Thomas is probably the man appearing also in IGLS 4, no. 1789, dated 539/540, as the founder of a tower in this same settlement; Mouterde supposed that he later became the periodeutes ('itinerant presbyter'), who in 563 constructed the garrison and the public bath at Androna, commemorated by two impressive inscriptions (see: IGLS 4, nos. 1682, 1685).
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E01882

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023

Saint Name in Source

Μαρία Σέργις

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Images and objects - Representative images Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

530

Evidence not after

555

Activity not before

530

Activity not after

555

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes Rouweyḍa

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Rouweyḍa Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Merchants and artisans

Source

Both the lintel with the relief, and the building inscription, were first recorded by Jean Lassus (drawings, photographs) in the 1930s, in a church in Rouweyḍa. Based on this find, the church was identified as dedicated to Mary. The relief was later seen and photographed by René Mouterde and republished by him in 1955.

Bibliography

Edition: Relief: 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. 1790. Lassus, J., Inventaire archéologique de la région au nord-est de Hama (Documents d'Études Orientales 4, Damascus: Institut français de Damas, [1935-1936?]), vol. 1: Text, 122, no. 66, fig. 129 and vol. 2: Planches, plate XXIII 1,2. Inscription: 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. 1791. Lassus, J., Inventaire archéologique de la région au nord-est de Hama (Documents d'Études Orientales 4, Damascus: Institut français de Damas, [1935-1936?]), vol. 1: Text, 123, no. 67, fig. 131. Further reading: Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 12, 15. Trombley, F.R., Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529, vol. 2, (Leiden - New York - Cologne: Brill, 1994), 303?????

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports