Saint NameSophia, personified Holy Wisdom : S00705
Saint Name in SourceΣοφία
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before601
Evidence not after602
Activity not before601
Activity not after602
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcBosra
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Bosra
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceStone lintel, damaged at the right-hand end. H. 0.43 m; W. 1.94 m. Letter height 0.05-0.07 m. Decorated with a carving of a cross within a circle in the middle of the inscribed face.
Reportedly found in situ (the exact location is not specified) by Maurice Dunand, and first published by him with a drawing in 1950. Revisited by Marcell Restle and Johannes Koder during their survey of the Hauran in 1978-1980, who republished the text with a photograph (showing that Dunand's drawing is slightly different from the actual shape of the inscription) and noted that the lintel was placed over a doorway in the west facade of a house. Now apparently lost, as it was not found by Maurice Sartre who offers the most recent edition of the inscription in the fifteenth volume of Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the foundation and completion of a church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia). We have no reason to suggest that this abstract entity was venerated as a personification of God's Wisdom, that is a female saint, and the dedication of this church is interesting in the context of the generality of churches of the Hauran, which are dedicated to saints. In 2000 Annie Sartre-Fauriat noted that the only other church dedicated to Holy Wisdom in our region was constructed in Riḥāb to the southeast of Gerasa/Jerash in 604 (E02062), but in 2003 another church dedicated to Holy Wisdom was found in Zaghrit the vicinity of Jerash by Abd al-Rahim Hazim (E02663; AD 542/543). Although not dedicated to a saint, we have no hesitation including this interesting inscription in our database.
The date of the construction of our church is computed according to the era of the province of Arabia, which corresponds to AD 601/602. Thus, the undertaking was completed two years before the church in Riḥāb.
Sartre-Fauriat, A., Sartre, M., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 15/1: Le plateau du Trachôn et ses bordures (BAH 204, Beyrouth: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2014), no. 187.
Dunand, M., “Nouvelles inscriptions du Djebel Druze et du Hauran”, Archiv Orientalni: Journal of the Czechoslovak Oriental Institute, Prague 18 (1950), no. 369.
Restle, M., Koder. J., Architekturdenkmäler der spätantiken und frübyzantinischen Zeit im Hauran, vol. 1: Azr'a (Zora) (Veröffentlichungen zur Byzanzforschung 31, Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012), 62-63, no. 10.
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), 306.
Meimaris, Y.E., Kritikakou, K., Bougia, P. (eds.), Chronological Systems in Roman-Byzantine Palestine and Arabia. The Evidence of the Dated Greek Inscriptions (Meletemata 17, Athens: Diffusion de Boccard, Paris, 1992), 277, no. 436.
Bulletin épigraphique (1953), 218.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 1518.