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E01982: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the laying of a mosaic floor in the embolos (?porch) of a church apparently dedicated to the 'all-holy *Rhodon' (?otherwise unknown saint). Found at 'Ain es-Samake to the south of Beirut (west Phoenicia/Lebanon). Dated 605.

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posted on 02.11.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
ἐψηφώθη ὡ ἤ-
μβωλως τοῦ πα-
ναγίου Ῥώδω-
νως ἔτους
μηνὼς Σεπτημ-
[βρίου .]ςʹ ἰνδι-
[κτιῶνο]ς θʹ

6-8. Σεπτημ|[βρίου .]ς΄, ἰνδι|[κτιῶνο]ς θ΄ Donceel-Voûte Seyrig || Σεπτημ|[βρ. τῆς] ε΄? ἰνδι. Mouterde

'The embolos (= porch?) of (the church of?) the all-holy Rhodon was paved with a mosaic in the year 685, on the [-]6 of the month of September, 9th [indiction].'

Text: Donceel-Voûte 1988, 329. Translation: P. Nowakowski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Rhodon (unspecified) : S01130

Saint Name in Source


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 Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Berytos 'Ain es-Samake

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

Berytos Thabbora Thabbora 'Ain es-Samake Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings


The existence o floor-mosaics at 'Ain es-Samake was first recorded by Virgilio Serviliano in 1959. The site was later surveyed and the mosaics secured under the supervision of Richard Lian. Some of the mosaic pavements, including two inscribed panels, were taken to the Museum in Damascus. The surveyors concluded that the floors once belonged to a three-aisled basilica, and though the plan of the building was not entirely revealed, the structure can be quite safely considered a church. It seems that the building was at some point refurbished and extended and that the nave was flanked by a number of small chambers or porches. Our inscription is in a framed mosaic panel, from the floor of 'Room E', one of the small chambers flanking the nave. The inscription was first published by Maurice Chéhab. The text and dating were later corrected by Henri Seyrig in 1962, based on an examination of the photograph published by Chéhab. Pauline Donceel-Voûte follows Seyrig's corrected edition.


This short and easy to read inscription is not entirely simple to interpret. It commemorates the paving of a space termed an embolos. According to the editors this might denote a porch, though in other Syrian inscriptions the term is sometimes used to name aisles. In lines 2-4 we read that this embolos was of a certain all-holy (panagios) Rhodon, or probably an institution (very possibly the church itself) named after this figure. The epithet panagios was normally an element of the titulature of the Virgin Mary. Here it is apparently used in reference to a saint, very possibly the patron of our church. The identity of this Rodon is not clear, but he could be a local martyr. For a martyr Rodopianos of Aphrodisias in Caria (southwest Asia Minor), known to the Syriac Martyrology, see: E01484. It is, however, unlikely that his name was misspelt in our inscription. On balance, we believe he was probably a local martyr, otherwise unrecorded. Dating: The date of our inscription is given in line 5 as the 685th year of the era of nearby Berytos. Together with the 9th indiction year and the month of September, we can convert this to September AD 605. The day of the completion of the paving is partially lost: it could be the 6th, 16th or 26th of the month of September. Seyrig notes that as the New Year was celebrated in Berytos on 23rd of September (which is the birthday of Augustus), our inscription could have been completed on the 26th, during the celebration of a New Year's festival. Another inscription from this church, commemorating the laying of a mosaic pavement funded by a deacon (but with no reference to the saint), is dated AD 581 (see: Donceel-Voûte 1988, 329), which implies that the sanctuary itself was built before the 7th c.


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), 326-333. Seyrig, H., "Antiquités syriennes", Syria 39 (1962), 42-44. René Mouterde in: M.H. Chéhab (ed.), Mosaïques du Liban (Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth 14-15, Paris: Librairie d'Amérique et d'Orient, A. Maisonneuve, 1959), 173-178, plates CXI-CXV (with a photograph). Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 40, 1775.

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