A round lamp-holder (polycandelon) made of bronze. The object consists of two rings. The inner ring encloses a bronze cross, while the space between the rings is fitted with six circles, designed to hold six individual glass lamps. The outer ring has hanging chains. Diameter of the outer ring < 0.30 m. The polycandelon was found together with a plate of red ware (d. 0.30 m), which was apparently an integral part of the whole. The objects were found in a cistern at the ecclesiastical complex on the estate of the Augustine Fathers of the Assumption (St. Peter of Gallicantu). First published by Joseph Germer-Durand in 1909. Later re-published by a number of scholars.
The plate bears a dedicatory inscription running around its edge:
+ ὁ ἅγιος Θεοδώσιος ̣μονῆς ̣Ἰωσὴφ ταπηνός +
The precise meaning of the inscription is not clear. Leah Di Segni suggests two possible translations after earlier editors:
'Saint Theodosios; humble Iospeh of (this) monastery.' (after Germer-Durand)
'Humble Ioseph of the monastery of Saint Theodosios.' (after Vincent & Abel)
Text: CIIP 1/2, no. 1082.
Saint NameTheodosios the Coenobiarch, ob. 529 : S01325
Saint Name in SourceΘεοδώσιος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed objects
Images and objects - Lamps, ampullae and tokens
Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)
Evidence not before529
Evidence not after830
Activity not before529
Activity not after830
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Cult Activities - Cult Related ObjectsOil lamps/candles
Precious material objects
DiscussionAlthough the syntax of the inscription is very poor, the editors agree that the dedication mentions two figures: 'a humble Ioseph', and 'the holy Theodosios'. Of the two, Ioseph is certainly the donor, and was probably a monk in the monastery of Saint Theodosios at Deir Dosi, situated to the southeast of Jerusalem. Its founder, usually called Theodosios the Coenobiarch, is commemorated in Greek Menologia of the middle Byzantine period on the day of his death, 11th January. The commemoration is said to have been celebrated 'in the apostoleion of St. Peter'. The location of that apostoleion is not clear, but Di Segni seems to favour the idea of Germer-Durand who identified it with the church at the find-spot of our lamp-holder.
According to Di Segni, Iospeh offered the polycandelon 'in honour of the founder of his monastery.' But, given the poor phrasing of the text, one cannot be sure whether Theodosios (whose name appears in the nominative) is here the recipient of the gift or appears just as the eponymous founder of the convent, and thus a marker of the identity of Iospeh. Germer-Durand suggested that we actually have here two donors who for some reason both contributed to the offering of the lamp-holder: the monastery of Theodosios (as an institution) and the monk Iospeh (as an individual). Di Segni adds the further possibility that the expression ἅγιος Θεοδώσιος refers to a chapel where the lamp-holder was meant to be used or to the feast of the saint when the offering was presumably made (which is rather implausible).
Whatever the precise meaning of the inscription, Theodosios is called ὁ ἅγιος/'the holy'. This is not unequivocal evidence that he was already being venerated as a saint at the time the lamp-holder was made; but many monastic founders probably were regarded as such in the communities they founded.
Dating: based on the shape of letters and the terminus post quem which is the death of Theodosios the Coenobiarch in 529, Di Segni rightly dates the object to the 6th or early 7th c. Germer-Durand argued for a date in the 5th c. (also based on palaeography), while Thomsen placed the chandelier in the 8th/9th c. because of the poor syntax of the inscription.
Cotton, H.M., Di Segni, L., Eck, W., Isaac, B., Kushnir-Stein, A., Misgav, H., Price, J.J., Yardeni, A. and others (eds.), Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 1, part 2: Jerusalem, nos. 705-1120 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), no. 1082.
Bieberstein, K., Bloedhorn, H., Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft (TAVO Beiheft B 100, 1-3; Wiesbaden 1994), vol. 2, 291.
Thomsen, P., "Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung. 1. Nachtrag", Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins 64 (1941), no. 235.
Vincent, L.H., Abel, F.M. (eds.), Jérusalem: recherches de topographie, d'archéologie et d'histoire, vol. 2: Jérusalem nouvelle, part 3: La Sainte-Sion et les sanctuaires de second ordre (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1922), 486-487, 507-508 and fig. 180.
Thomsen, P., Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1922), no. 235.
Germer-Durnad, J., "Un polycandilon byzantin découvert à Jérusalem", Échos d'Orient 12 (1909), 75-76.