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E02172: Greek inscription invoking the help of *Leontios (probably the martyr of Tripolis, Phoenicia, S00216) for a village. Found at Saura (modern Ṣūr al-Lejā) between Aere and Bostra (northwest Roman province of Arabia). Dated, 458/459 or 558/559.

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posted on 21.12.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
+ ἅγιος Λιόντιο<ς> γράφ(ει) ἐπὶ τῆς ιβ΄ ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος)
βοήθ(ει) ἡμῶν κώμ<ῃ> ἔτους τνγ΄ τῆς ἐπαρ(χίας)
+ Χαβος Εὐτολμίου + Χιρὶ Ἠλίας Βαραχεο[υ]

1. Λιόντιο<ς> Sartre Ewing, Λιοντ[ί]ου Littmann, Λιοντίου Ewing's drawing || γράφ(ει) Sartre Littmann, (ἐ)γράφ(η) Wright & Souter || 2. ἔτους τνγ΄ Sartre Littmann, ΕΤΑΥCΥΝC Ewing's copy (= ἔτ<ο>υς υν[θ]΄ Wright & Souter) || 3. Χαβος Sartre Littmann, ΧΜΒΟC = τύμβος (?) Ewing || Βαραχεο[υ] Sartre Littman, βαραχέ[ως Wright & Souter, Βαραχε Ewing's copy

'+ O Saint Leontios, be the help of our village! + Chabos, son of Eutolmios, writes this in the 12th indiction, year 353 of the province. + (Written) by the hand of Elias, son of Barachias.'

Text: IGLS 15/1, no. 102. Translation: F. Trombley, lightly modified.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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History

Evidence ID

E02172

Saint Name

Leontios, martyr in Tripolis (Syria), ob. c. 303-312 : S00216

Saint Name in Source

Λιόντιος

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

458

Evidence not after

564

Activity not before

458

Activity not after

564

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Aere Bosra Saura

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

Aere Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Saura 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 - Miracles

Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Peasants Merchants and artisans

Source

Large stone lintel. H. 0.435 m; W. 1.95 m. Decorated with a carving of a disk in the middle of the inscribed face. The inscription is within a rectangular frame. Letter height 0.05-0.065 m. First copied by William Ewing (reportedly over a door in the eastern mosque) and published by Wright and Souter with his drawing in 1895. Revisited by the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Syria and copied by David Magie. When recorded by Magie, the stone was reused in a wall of a Nabataean shrine/'temenos'. Recently revisited by Annie Sartre-Fauriat and Maurice Sartre, who note that only two non-conjoining fragments of the right-hand part of the lintel survive, now reused in the staircase of a house. The two fragments were photographed and the whole text was republished by the Sartres in the fifteenth volume of Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie.

Discussion

The inscription probably commemorated the construction of a church or chapel. The first editors and the Sartres suggest that the text begins with an invocation of the help of Saint Leontios, and thus the church was probably dedicated to this figure. On the other hand, Littmann read the beginning of the text literally as a label of the church: + ἅγιος Λιοντ[ί]ου (sic!)/'(Chapel) of Saint Leontios', followed by an unspecified request for help; but this reading is less probable. Saint Leontios is probably the martyr of Tripolis in Syria/Phoenicia (ob. c. 303-312) who was venerated in Bostra together with *Sergios and Bakchos (E02234) and possibly with *Sergios in Rusafa (E01462). The date of the inscription has been disputed. Wright and Souter, on the basis of Ewing's copy, read it as the 459th year of the era of the province of Arabia (= AD 564). However, Littmann preferred to read the date in both Ewing's and Magie's copy as the year 353, that is AD 458/459. Both dates are coherent with the 12th indiction, and the Sartres definitely prefer the dating by Littmann, noting that, if this date is correct, we have here the earliest dated Christian inscription in the Trachonitis. In favour of the later date is the fact that the cult of Leontios in this region is linked with that of *Sergios and *Bakchos (see E02234) whose cult only spread in the late 5th and early 6th c.

Bibliography

Edition: 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. 102. Meimaris, Y.E., Kritikakou, K., Bougia, P., Chronological Systems in Roman-Byzantine Palestine and Arabia. The Evidence of the Dated Greek Inscriptions (Meletēmata 17, Athens: Kentron Hellēnikēs kai Rōmaikēs Archaiotētos, Ethnikon Hydryma Ereunōn, 1992), 214, no. 199; 248, no. 330. Littmann, E., Magie, D., 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), 426, no. 797(3). Wright, A.G., Souter, A. (from copies by W. Ewing), "Greek and other inscriptions collected in the Hauran", Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 27 (1895), 138, no. 66. Further reading: Brünnow, R.E., von Domaszewski, A., Die Provincia Arabia: auf Grund zweier in den Jahren 1897 und 1898 unternommenen Reisen und der Berichte früherer Reisender, vol. 3 (Strassburg: Trübner, 1909), 355. Trombley, F.R., Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529, vol. 2, (Leiden - New York - Cologne: Brill, 1994), 366 (English translation).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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