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E01991: Greek inscription commemorating the construction of a church (naos) dedicated to *George (soldier and martyr, S00259), and the later building of an aule. Found at Salkhad in Jabal Druze, to the east of Bostra (Hauran, south Syria/northeast Roman province of Arabia). Dated 633/634 and 665/666.

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posted on 09.11.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
+ τοῦ ἁγίου Γεωργίου. + ὑπὲρ ἀνα(παύσεως) Ἀναστασίου (καὶ) Οβεζαθης
ναὸς ἐκτήσ(θη) φκη΄. (καὶ) Γεωργίου αὐτ(ῶν) υἱοῦ τὴν αὐλήν φξ΄. +

1. + τοῦ ἁγίου Γεωργίου Sartre-Fauriat, + Τ.Α.Ι.ΕΔΡΙ.ΟΥ Waddington

'+ Of Saint George. + The church (naos) was founded as a vow for the repose of Anastaios and Obezathe (in the year) 528. And the aula (as a vow for the repose) of their son Georgios (in the year) 560.'

Text: Sartre-Fauriat 2000, 296.

History

Evidence ID

E01991

Saint Name

George, martyr in Nicomedia or Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259

Saint Name in Source

Γεώργιος

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

633

Evidence not after

666

Activity not before

633

Activity not after

666

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Bosra Salkhad

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

Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Salkhad Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Children Women

Source

A stone block, reused in a fort. First published in 1870 by William Waddington from his own copy. A provisional new edition was published by Annie Sartre-Fauriat in 2000, based on a new examination of the stone. A proper new edition is planned in the sixteenth volume of the Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie. There is no published photograph and description.

Discussion

William Waddington, the first editor of this text, was unable to read the first words in line 1, which according to Annie Sartre-Fauriat certainly read 'Of Saint George'. Consequently, the inscription does not appear on Halkin's list of Greek inscriptions which refer to the cult of saints in the province of Arabia. The text was also misinterpreted by Robert Devreesse who considered it a common epitaph. Sartre-Fauriat demonstrates that the inscription clearly commemorates two phases of the construction of a church dedicated to George. First its foundation, as a vow for the repose of a couple, and then its extension with an aule (Greek αὐλή). This aule might have been a separate building situated near the shrine (as suggested by Gatier) or, more probably its extension (also considered by Gatier and supported by Sartre-Fauriat). Sartre-Fauriat says that normally the term aule is used in south Syria to denote family tombs of the local aristocracy, built on their estates. However, our aule is, exceptionally, associated with a church (naos). Therefore, it could be an atrium in front of the facade of the sanctuary, 'a kind of a narthex', or a chapel meant for the burial of the mentioned founders (which is close to the regular meaning of this term, as shown above). It is interesting to note that the couple's son was named George, very possibly in honour of their favourite saint, to whom they dedicated the church. For an aule of *Mary, Mother of Christ in central Syria, see: E01888. Dating: The dates, the years 528 and 560, are probably computed according to the era of nearby Bostra (= the era of the province of Arabia) and correspond respectively to AD 633/634 and 665/666. Gatier notes that the script of the first part of the inscription does not differ from that of the second, so the whole text was probably re-carved after the extension of the building in 665/666 (well into the Umayyad period).

Bibliography

Edition: Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie 16/2, no. 1121 (forthcoming). Sartre-Fauriat, A., "Georges, Serge, Élie et quelques autres saints connus et inédits de la province d'Arabie", in: Fr. Prévot (ed.), Romanité et cité chrétienne. Permances et mutations. Intégration et exclusion du Ier au VIe siècle. Mélanges en l'honneur d'Yvette Duval (Paris: De Boccard, 2000), 296. Waddington, W.H., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 1870), no. 1997. Further reading: Devreesse, R., Le patriarcat d'Antioche depuis la paix de l'Église jusqu'à la conquête arabe (Paris: J. Gabalda et cie, 1945), 234. Gatier, P.-L., "Inscriptions grecques, mosaïques et églises des débuts de l'époque islamique au Proche-Orient (VIIe-VIIIe) siècles", 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), 10. Gatier, P.-L., "Les inscriptions grecques d'époque islamique (VIIe-VIIIe siècles) en Syrie du sud", in: P. Canivet, J-P. Rey-Coquais (eds.), La Syrie de Byzance à l'Islam: VIIe-VIIIe siècles : actes du colloque international Lyon - Maison de l'Orient méditerranéen, Paris - Institut du monde arabe, 11-15 Septembre 1990 (Damas: Institut français de Damas, 1992), 145-155 (mentioned). Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 837. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 1518; 50, 1542.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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