Saint NameSergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023
Bakchos, martyr in Barbalissos (Syria), ob. c. 303-311 : S00079
Saint Name in SourceΣέργιος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before480
Evidence not after700
Activity not before480
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcDamascus
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Damascus
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - monastic
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsConstruction of cult buildings
Cult Activities - MiraclesSaint aiding or preventing the construction of a cult building
SourceFallen stone lintel. H. 0.35 m; W. 1.80-1.93 m. Found near the east porch of the monastery. Decorated with a carving of a cross resembling the letter Χ, within a circle (diameter 0.32 m). Letter height 0.04-0.05 m.
First seen and copied in 1901 by René Dussaud and Frédéric Macler during their survey in south Syria, and published by them in their report in 1902. Revisited by the Princeton Expedition to Syria and copied by Howard Butler. Published from Butler's copy by Enno Littmann and Duane Reed Stuart in 1921. A new edition of the inscription will be offered in the sixteenth volume of Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie.
DiscussionThe inscription is poorly preserved, but based on the contents of lines 1-3 we can conclude that it probably commemorated the construction of a monastery and invoked the help of the God of Saints Sergios and Bakchos. Interestingly, both saints are mentioned, while normally Saint Sergios was venerated alone in the East. Unfortunately, the name of the monastery (probably deriving from the name of its founder or of its patron saint) is lost but we can assume that it was recorded at the end of line 3.
The first editors, Dussaud and Macler, claimed that they managed to read a longer text: Κ(ύρι)ε, β(οηθοῦντος) Χ(ριστ)οῦ, εὐλώγεσον τ[ῆς] μονῆς τῶ<ν> ἁ(γίων) βοτονων (?) Γ(εωργίου) κ(α)ὶ Σ(εργίου) / 'Lord, with the help of Christ, bless the monastery of Saints [- - -] George and Sergios.' They also noted the presence of the letters ωθ in the upper left-hand corner of the inscription, which they interpreted as a date, the 808th year of the Seleucid era, i.e. AD 497. However, Littmann and Stuart, on the basis of Butler's copy, considered their readings as entirely implausible. The inscription is likely to date somewhere in the late 5th or 6th c. when the cult of Sergios was quickly spreading in the East.
Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 16/2, no. 1006 (forthcoming).
Littmann, E., Stuart, D.R., (eds.), Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-5 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section A: Southern Syria (Leiden: Brill, 1921), no. 722.
Dussaud, R., Macler, F., "Rapport sur une mission scientifique dans les régions désertiques de la Syrie moyenne", Nouvelles archives des missions scientifiques et littéraires 10 (1902), 659, no. 48.
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), 303, note 59.
Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: St. Sergius between Rome and Iran (Berkeley, Calif.; London: University of California Press, 1999), 108.