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E02242: Greek building inscription for a church of *George (soldier and martyr, S00259). Found at al-Ghāriyyeh al-Gharbiyyeh, to the northwest of Bostra (Roman province of Arabia). Dated 558.

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posted on 11.01.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
ἀθλοφόρ(ου) μάρτυρ(ος)
ἁγίου Γεωργίου ἐκ σπουδῆς
Ἰωσέφου πρεσβ(υτέρου), χρόν(ων)
ς΄ ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ἐν <ἔ>τ(ει) υνγ΄. χιρὶ Σεργίου τὰ
παπ(π)ῷα (?) (καὶ) Γεωργίου κομογρ(αμματέως)

In the left-hand margin: ἔ(γραψε) Γεώργι(ος)

4-5. τὰ | παπ(π)ῷα Sartre, τὰ ἐ[γρ]ά|<π>[φη] Dussaud & Macler || 5. κομογρ(αμματέως) Sartre, κομο[τ]ρ(οφέως) Dussaud & Macler

'Of the prize-bearing martyr, Saint George, by the zeal of Iosephos, presbyter, in the times of the 6th indiction, in the year 453. By the hand of Sergios, the (...) ancestral (?), and of Georgios, secretary of the village (komogrammateus). Georgios carved it.'

Text: IGLS 13/2, no. 9739. Translation: P. Nowakowski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

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

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Bosra al-Ghāriyyeh al-Gharbiyyeh

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

Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka al-Ghāriyyeh al-Gharbiyyeh Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Officials Merchants and artisans Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people


Stone lintel. Decorated with a carving of a large circle containing a cross in the middle of the inscribed face. Dimensions unknown. There is no published description. Now lost. Seen and copied by René Dussaud and Frédéric Macler during their survey in south Syria, and published by them in 1901 with a drawing. The actual find-spot and archaeological context are not described. Published anew by Maurice Sartre and Annie Sartre-Fauriat in 2011, based on the old drawing but with new interpretations.


The inscription certainly commemorates the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to the martyr George. The actual designation of the shrine (whether it was a martyrion, naos, ekklesia, etc.) is not specified. The sanctuary was built 'by the hand' of a certain Sergios. His name is followed by a dubious word: Dussaud suggested that it was a reference to the carving of the inscription (by the hand of Sergios), and corrected the term to: ἐ[γρ]ά|<π>[φη]. The Sartres are reluctant to accept this emendation, and suppose that the word possibly refers to ancestors or some 'ancestral' issues. Line 5 contains the name Georgios, followed by another dubious term. Dussaud believed that the term should be restored as κομοτροφεύς which he translated as 'long-haired' or 'letting his hair grow' ('qui a laissé croître sa chevelure'). In his opinion it was an epithet of Saint George, presumably deriving from a crest of horse hair, fixed to his helmet. The Satres offer a much more plausible explanation: the word probably denotes an official: Georgios, a village secretary (κομογραμματεύς), who contributed to the construction. The problem is, however, (as they themselves note) that this office is very well attested in Ptolemaic Egypt but so far has not appeared in Syria (let alone in late antique Syria). Dating: the 453rd year of the era of the province of Arabia and the 6th indictional year together correspond to a very narrow period: 22nd March - 30th August AD 558.


Edition: Sartre, M., Sartre-Fauriat, A. (eds.), Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 13/2: Bostra (Supplément) et la plaine de la Nuqrah (BAH 194, Beirut: Institut français du Proche-Orient, 2011), no. 9739. 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), 354. Dussaud, R., Macler, F., Voyage archéologique au Safâ et dans le Djebel-ed-Drûz (Paris: , 1901), 206, no. 100.

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