Saint NameUnnamed saints (or name lost) : S00518
Saint Name in Sourceἅγιοι
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after700
Activity not before500
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Palestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcGaza
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Gaza
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
SourceRectangular marble plaque. H. c. 0.40 m; W. 0.45 m. Broken and lost in the lower left-hand corner.
When recorded, it was reused in a private house at Gaza, but was said to have been found at Askalon. First published in 1896 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau with a drawing. The editor declared that he also had a squeeze. Both the stone and the squeeze are now probably lost.
The stone was republished several times in various collections of inscriptions from Gaza, but always based on the original drawing.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the burial of one Anastasia introduced as 'the servant of Christ and the saints'. Similar formulas, stressing one's piety, are frequent in 5th/6th c. and later Christian epitaphs and invocations.
The inscription drew the attention of scholars for two reasons.
First, the meaning of the word Mareabdenos in line 2 is not clear and was differently understood and translated by editors (e.g. Clermont-Ganneau: 'daughter of John, a Mareabdenian (?)'; Meyer: '(daughter) of John Mareabdenes'; Ameling: 'daughter of Ioannes Mareabdenus'). The first editor, Clermont-Ganneau, guessed that it could be an ethnic identifier, possibly deriving from Mareabdes (known to Sozomen, HE 2.13.7) or another name (Ameling quotes variants of the Semitic name Mareathes). According to Leah Di Segni it could be a personal name modeled upon the name of a village or an estate, or a saint Mar Abdas.
Second, the dating formula contains an enigmatic 88th year of an unspecified era. Di Segni argued that this and similar short yearly dates are actually very early cases of dating according to the Byzantine creation era, and that in our case the complete date should be restored as AD 6088 (which together with the daily date corresponds to 25 November AD 588). However, Denis Feissel, Pierre-Louis Gatier, and Walter Ameling are skeptical towards this interpretation, as, especially in our case, an uncial delta appearing in line 2 points to a later period. Yiannis Meimaris saw this inscription as dated according to an era used in Askalon, the presumed provenance of the stone. Assuming that the hundreds were omitted, and based on the coincidence of indiction years, Meimaris suggested that the complete date should be understood as ηπ<φ>΄ = <5>33rd year of an era starting on 28 October 105 BC. However, even he was not entirely convinced, as the regular era of Askalon started in 104 BC. Ameling stresses that currently there is no good solution for this dating formula.
Ameling, W., Ecker, A., Hoyland, R. (eds.), Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae, vol. 3: South Coast, 2161-2648: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad ( Berlin - Boston, Massachusetts: De Gruyter, 2014), no. 2479.
Glucker, C., The City of Gaza in the Roman and Byzantine Periods (Oxford: B.A.R, 1987), 134, no. 20.
Meyer, M., History of the City of Gaza (New York: the Columbia University Press, 1907), 145, no. 26.
Clermont-Ganneau, Ch., "From Jerusalem to Sebaste (Samaria), and from Sebaste to Gaza", Archaeological Researches in Palestine during the Years 1873-1874, vol. 2 (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1896), 413, no. 17.
Di Segni, L., "The use of chronological systems in sixth-eight centuries Palestine", Aram 18-19 (2006-2007), 113-115.
Gatier, P.-L., "Inscriptions grecques, mosaïques et églises des débuts de l'époque islamique au Proche-Orient (VIIe-VIIIe) siècles", in: A. Borrut, M. Debié, A. Papaconstantinou, D. Pieri, J.-P. Sodini (eds.), Le Proche-Orient de Justinien aux Abassides : peuplement et dynamiques spatiales : actes du colloque "Continuités de l'occupation entre les périodes byzantine et abbasside au Proche-Orient, VIIe-IXe siècles," Paris, 18-20 octobre 2007 (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 19, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 15-16 (for comments on the use of creation eras in late antique inscriptions).
Leclercq, H., "", DACL 6 (1924), col. 716, no. 20.
Meimaris, Y., Sacred names, saints, martyrs and church officials in the Greek inscriptions and papyri pertaining to the Christian Church of Palestine (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation, Center for Greek and Roman Antiquity, 1986), 16, no. 4 and 54, no. 318.
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), 71, no. 9.