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E01980: Floor-plaque with a Greek inscription recording a vow for the repose of a presbyter and sacristan (paramonarios), perhaps of a church dedicated to a saint (whose name is lost). Found in the so-called East church (the cathedral church) at Apameia on the Orontes (central Syria). Dated probably 533/534.

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posted on 02.11.2016, 00:00 by Bryan
+ ἐπὶ τοῦ ὁσιωτ(άτου) κ(αὶ) ἁγιωτ(άτου) Παύ-
λου ἐπισκ(όπου) ἐγένετο τὸ πλα-
κοτὸν ὑπὲρ ἀναπαυσέο[ς]
Ζαχχεου πρεσβ(υτέρου) κ(αὶ) παρ[α]-
<μο>[ναρίου τ]οῦ ἁγίο[υ - - -]
σπουδῇ Δομετίου <τοῦ> ταπι-
̣νοῦ ̣ἔτου<ς> εμ̣ωʹ ̣ἰ̣ν̣δ(ικτίωνος) [- - -]

3. ἀναπαυσέο[ς] Donceel-Voûte, ἀναπαυσέο Balty || 4-5. παρ[αμ(οναρίου) | τεν[...τ]οῦ ἁγίο[υ - - -] Donceel-Voûte, κ(αὶ) πα̣τ .. | τεν.ο̣ν τοῦ ἁγιοτ(άτου) ... Balty || 6-7. τα̣μ|νου ̣ἔτου<ς> εμ̣ωʹ Van Rengen, Ταίμ|̣νου ̣ἔτους μ̣ωʹ Donceel-Voûte, ταμί|νου (= ταμίου?) ἔτου εμωʹ Balty

'+ Under the most pious and most holy bishop Paulos this plaque was laid as a vow for the repose of Zakcheos, presbyter and watchman (paramonarios) of Saint [- - -] (?). By the efforts of Dometios, the wretched (?). In the year 845, [- - -] indiction.'

Text: Donceel-Voûte 1988, 210 with completions by Van Rengen from SEG 40, 1751, and by us.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Saints, name wholly or largely lost : S01744

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - bishops


A large red marble plaque in the pavement of the north courtyard (near its centre) of the so-called East church (the cathedral church) at Apameia on the Orontes. The church is situated near the east gate of Apameia. It was first examined between 1932 and 1940 in the course of the excavations by the Belgian archaeological mission, supervised by Fernand Mayence. Research was resumed by Jean-Charles Balty in 1970, mostly in the south and east sections of the building. The sanctuary is considered to have been originally a memorial shrine (martyrion), built in the 5th c. to house relics of the Holy Cross, which after the earthquake of 526 or 528 was refurbished as the new cathedral of the city. The location of the building that had served as the cathedral before these disasters is still unknown. The mosaic pavements from our church record that bishop Paulos decided to move the seat of his see, and that he supervised the refurbishment. The original plan of the church was a square. After the refurbishment, it acquired a much more complicated structure with a tetraconch core, extended to the east with an apse containing a synthronon. This apse was flanked by chambers and surrounded by an ambulatory. At least two non-contemporary baptismal complexes are discernible among the chapels.


The inscription certainly commemorates a vow for the repose of a presbyter, possibly also serving as a watchman (paramonarios). The vow was fulfilled under bishop Paulos, whose name occurs in a number of dedicatory inscriptions in this church. Lines 5-7 are not easy to interpret. The first edition by Jean-Charles Balty was corrected by Pauline Donceel-Voûte, but Wilfried Van Rengen, based on the examination of the squeeze and photograph, found some of her completions implausible. Balty hypothetically suggested that our presbyter simply served in 'the most holy church': κ(αὶ) παρ̣αμ|{τ}οναρίου (?) τοῦ ἁγιο[τ(άτου) ναοῦ] (the exact division of words between these lines is not obvious and we suggest a new one). However, Donceel Voûte rightly notes that the name of the holy patron of the sanctuary could have been specified here: τοῦ ἁγίο[υ - - -]. Unfortunately, we cannot say what this name was and whether the church in question is the cathedral where our inscription was found. For a reliquary inscribed with names of several martyrs, venerated in the cathedral, see: E01832. It seems that the placement of the votive plaque was supervised by a certain Dometios. Balty read the word at the break of lines 6 and 7 as his function, here misspelt ταμί|νου for ταμίου/'steward'. Donceel-Voûte, however, suggests that one should read the word as the patronym: Ταίμ|νου/'son of Taimnos'. Van Rengen does not confirm this reading and points out that the passage reads ταμ|νου, which he understands as the name of the post of Dometios. We suggest that the word might be the epithet ταπεινός/'humble, wretched', which frequently occurs in Christian inscriptions. As for the date, we follow Van Rengen's reading which is ἔτου<ς> εμωʹ/'in the year 845'. When converted from the Seleucid to the common era, the date corresponds to AD 533/534. For other readings of the dating formula, see the apparatus.


Edition: Donceel-Voûte, P., Les pavements des églises byzantines de Syrie et du Liban. Décor, archéologie et liturgie (Publications d’histoire de l’art et d’archéologie de l’Université catholique de Louvain 69, Louvain-La-Neuve: Département d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, 1988), 203-216. Balty, J.Ch., "L'évéque Paul et le programme architectural et décoratif de la cathédrale", in: P. Ducrey and others, Mélanges d'histoire ancienne et d'archéologie offerts à Paul Collart (Lausanne: Bibliothèque historique vaudoise, 1976), 31-33 (with a photograph). Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 26, 1627; 40 1751.

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