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E01886: Greek inscription invoking the intercession of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) to protect a gateway. Found at Qaṣr el-Mouḥarram near Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Probably c. 570.

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posted on 02.10.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
+ Κύριε βοήθι τὴν εἴσοδον καὶ τὴν ἔξοδον, εὐχῇ τῆς Θ(εο)τόκου Μαριάμ.

Θεοτόκε μραμ = Θεοτόκε Μ(α)ρ(ί)α, μ(ῆτερ θεοῦ?) Lucas, Θτοκου μρμ = Θ(εο)τόκου Μαρία(ς) Lassus, μρμ = Μ(ά)ρ(ια)μ Mouterde Littmann

'Lord, help (thy) going in and (thy) going out. Through the intercession of the God-Bearer (Theotokos) Mariam.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1813. The inscription is not easy to read and we do not reproduce here erroneous readings of earlier editors, which are not essential for the correct interpretation of the text. On the other hand we do present editors' rival ideas concerning the form of the name of Mary.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes Qaṣr el-Mouḥarram

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Qaṣr el-Mouḥarram Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Towns, villages, districts and fortresses

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



The inscription is on the arch of a gateway in the wall leading to the east side of Tower B of the fort at Qaṣr el-Mouḥarram (also named Qaṣr el-Beroūg, see: E01885). The inscription is set under an elaborately decorated arch, and arranged on either side of a combined Chi-Rho and Cross, set within a square. Good photos exist, but there is no published description with dimensions. First published in 1905 by Hans Lucas, from a copy, squeeze, and photograph by Max von Oppenheim. Revisited and republished by Jean Lassus in the 1930s with the aid of Enno Littmann. The edition by René Mouterde (1955) follows those of earlier editors.


As inscription E01885 on the same fortress, our inscription was carved to enhance the safety of the fort at Qaṣr el-Mouḥarram, in this case a specific gateway. Here, only the intercession of Mary is invoked, together with a set phrase frequently put above doorways in Syria, while on E01885 the intercession of 'All Saints' is also sought. The most interesting feature of this text is the name of Mary, rendered on the stone as Μρμ. Several possible expansions of this abbreviation have been suggested (see the apparatus), but the most reasonable is the idea of Enno Littmann (accepted by René Mouterde) that we have here a Greek transcription of the Syriac name Miriam, probably in the from Μ(ά)ρ(ια)μ. Remarkably, this is not the only case where the name of Mary is associated with towers and fortifications (cf. E01885; E01887; E01891; E01895; E01898). This interesting practice probably derives from the metaphorical description of Mary as the Tower of David and the Ivory Tower. The expressions were originally used in the Song of Solomon and were known in our region, as evidenced, for example, by an inscription from Nawa (see: IGLS 4, no. 1948). Dating: The inscription must be more or less contemporary to the lintel situated immediately under the arch and dated AD 570 (see: IGLS 4, no. 1812).


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. 1813 (and Addendum, p. 358). 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, 146, no. 83, fig. 149. Lucas, H., "Griechische und lateinische Inschriften aus Syrien, Mesopotamien und Kleinasien", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 14 (1905), 35, no. 38, plate IV, 20 (from a copy, squeeze, and photograph by Max von Oppenheim). Further reading: Jalabert, DACL, col. 1732, no. 21. Lucas, H., "Citat. bibl.", in: DACL, col. 1737, no. 89. Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 14.

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