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E04150: Pilgrim ampulla from a shrine of *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023), bearing a Greek inscription. Now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. Provenance unknown, probably Syria or Palestine. Probably 6th c.

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posted on 13.10.2017, 00:00 by Bryan
Pilgrim ampulla of unknown provenance. Now in the Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore). First published by Josef Engemann in 2002.

Both sides of the body are decorated with an image of a rider with nimbus. He is holding a spear with a cross on both ends. The editor notes that no demon or other evil entity is shown under the horse, a common motif on other ampullae with holy riders.

The neck is decorated with a cross under an arch. One side of the ampulla is corroded, the other has a small hole near the head of the rider.

The inscription which runs around the image of the rider, on both sides, reads:

+ εὐλογία Κυρίου ἁγίου Σεργίου

'+ Eulogia of the Lord of Saint Sergios.'

Text: Engemann 2002, 158.

History

Evidence ID

E04150

Saint Name

Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa : S00023

Saint Name in Source

Σέργιος

Image Caption 1

From: Engemann 2002, Tafel 8.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Lamps, ampullae and tokens

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Syria with Phoenicia

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

Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil Ampullae, eulogiai, tokens

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Ampullae, flasks, etc.

Discussion

The ampulla certainly comes from a shrine dedicated to Sergios, the soldier and martyr of Rusafa. It probably contained holy oil, acquired by a pilgrim visiting the shrine. The ampulla could have been produced in Rusafa itself, or in another sanctuary of the saint. Dating: While there is no reliable way to precisely date our object, pilgrim ampullae are usually dated to the 6th c. For Engemann's discussion of the style of the image of Sergios, and possible parallels that provide some hints towards dating the ampulla, see Engemann 2002, 159-160.

Bibliography

Edition: Engemann, J., "Palästinische früchristliche Pilgerampullen. Erstveröffentlichungen und Berichtigungen", Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 45 (2002), 158-160. Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 701.

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