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E02258: Greek building inscription for a church (naos) dedicated to *George (soldier and martyr, S00259) and probably to *Elisha (Old Testament prophet, S00239). Found at Naḥīṭah, to the north of Bostra (Roman province of Arabia). Dated 623.

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posted on 18.01.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
The layout of the inscription is not clear, as it is shown differently in the drawings of the 19th c. travellers who saw the stone. We present here a continuous text, as restored by Maurice Sartre and Annie Sartre-Fauriat. For alternative readings, see the apparatus in IGLS 13/2, no. 9858.

+ (καὶ) ἁγίου Ἠλισύου. Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς Χ(ριστό)ς. Κυριακός (καὶ) Οσεβος αὐτοῦ υἱὸς (καὶ) τέκνα Α(υ)μου ἐθεμελ(ίωσαν) (καὶ) ἔκτησαν τὼ<ν> ναὸ<ν> τοῦ ἐνδόξου μάρτυρο[ς] ἁγίου Γεωργίου, μηνεὶ Νοεμβρ(ίου) γ΄ μ(ην)ὶ Δίου το[ῦ] ἔτους φιη΄ τῆς ἐπαρ(χίας) ἐν τ(ῇ) αὐτῶν αὐλ(ῇ) ἐκ σποδοῦ αὐτῶν, Νοερου υἱοῦ Οσεβου Αιασου ἐρ(- - -)

'+ And of Saint Elisha. Jesus Christ. Kyriakos and Osebos, his son, and children of Aumos laid the foundations and built the church (naos) of the glorious martyr Saint George. On the 3rd (day) of the month of November, in the month of Dios, the year 518 of the province, in their own residence (aule), through their own efforts. Of Noeros, son of Osebos, grandson (?) of Aiasos, (architect?).'

Text: IGLS 13/2, no. 9858. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

History

Evidence ID

E02258

Saint Name

George, martyr in Nicomedia or Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259 Elisha, Old Testament prophet : S00239

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

623

Evidence not after

623

Activity not before

623

Activity not after

623

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Bosra Naḥīṭah

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

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

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Ceremony of dedication

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Anniversary of church/altar dedication

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

Merchants and artisans Children Other lay individuals/ people

Source

Large stone lintel. Probably decorated with a carving of a circle in the middle of the inscribed face, which is, however, not rendered in all drawings. Now lost. First seen by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1810, over a doorway. Burckhardt's edition was used by Adolf Kirchhoff who republished the inscription in the fourth volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum. Independently copied by William John Bankes, during his journeys in the Mediterranean between 1815 and 1820 (for his work in the Near East, see the comments in E02194), but his drawing remained unpublished until 2011 when it was edited by Maurice Sartre and Annie Sartre-Fauriat. In the late 19th c. seen also by Johann Gottfried Wetzstein, the Prussian consul in Damascus and Orientalist, over a doorway of a ruined building. His drawing is the basis for the edition by William Waddington. The most recent edition is by the Sartres in the thirteenth volume of Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie.

Discussion

The inscription commemorates the construction of a church (naos) from a family donation. The mentioned donors are Kyriakos and his son Osebos, and the children of a certain Aumos. The church is said to be dedicated to the holy martyr George, but, strangely, the inscription contains also a reference to Saint Elisha, probably the Old Testament Prophet. In the drawing by Burckhardt and Bankes this passage was inserted immediately after the name of Kyriakos, but the copy by Wetzstein shows that this place was occupied by a carving, while the reference to Elisha was positioned above it. The issue is not clear and here we follow the opinion of the Sartres. Perhaps the church was also dedicated to the prophet, as the formula which appears here, with the name of a saint in the genitive case and no designation of a building, is sometimes used in the region in building inscriptions (see, for example: E02242). Elisha, the successor of the famous prophet Elijah, was venerated in the East. The names in the last line are strange (e.g. Aiasos is otherwise unattested), and the meaning of this passage is not clear. It is possible that an architect or a stone-cutter is mentioned here. Dating: the inscription is dated according to the era of the province of Arabia. Its year 518, together with the 3rd day of the month of November correspond to 3rd November AD 623. This date falls within the Macedonian month of Dios which is also mentioned in the text.

Bibliography

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. 9858 (after earlier editions). Waddington, W.H., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 1870), no. 2412m (from an unpublished copy by Johann Gottfried Wetzstein). Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum IV, no. 8652 (after the edition by Burckhardt). Burckhardt, J.L., Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1822), 108 (from his own copy). Further reading: 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), 290, no. 481. Piccirillo, M., "The Province of Arabia during the Persian Invasion (613-629/630)", in: K.G. Holum, H. Lapin (eds.), Shaping the Middle East. Jews, Christians, and Muslims in an Age of Transition, 400-800 C.E. (Bethesda, MD: University Press of Maryland, 2011), 103.

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