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E07066: Clay stamp bearing an image of two male saints, and a Greek inscription mentioning a martyr whose name is lost. Found during archaeological excavations at Chersonesos/Cherson (north Black Sea); 6th century.

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posted on 06.11.2018, 00:00 by erizos
The stamp depicts two saints flanking a cross with the apocalyptic letters alpha and omega on either side of it.

The right figure is almost fully preserved. The saint is a bearded man with halo, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his left hand in prayer and holds a cross staff in his right.

The left figure is missing its head. This figure was also male, wearing a chlamys with tablion, and standing with both of his hands raised in prayer.

Both saints are flanked by cypress trees or palm branches, and the scene is encircled by the legend, written in mirror writing:

+Εὐλογί]α τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ ἐνδώξ[ου με]γαλο[μάρτ]υρoς[

'Blessing of the holy and glorious great martyr ...'

Diameter: 9 cm

History

Evidence ID

E07066

Saint Name

Kyros and Ioannes/Cyrus and John, physician and soldier, martyrs of Egypt : S00406 George, soldier and martyr : S00259

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Northern Black Sea

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Chersonesos in Tauris

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

Chersonesos in Tauris Chersonesos in Tauris Chersonesos Chersonesus Taurica Χερσόνησος Χερσών Chersonesos Cherson

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Production and selling of eulogiai, tokens

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Commissioning/producing an image

Discussion

The piece was found in 1898 in the south-eastern area of Cherson. It was probably used for stamping bread. Cherson has produced evidence for the veneration of saints from other regions (*Phokas, E07064, and Longinos, E07065), and ampullae of *Menas (soldier and martyr buried at Abu Mena, Egypt, S00073). Unfortunately the piece is missing the name of the saint in the inscription. Based on the epithet megalomartys, Latyshev suggested completing the name of Georgios, but given the presence of two figures on the image, this seems unlikely. The different dress types of the two figures indicate that one of them was understood to be a soldier, and the other a civilian. On this basis, we can suggest a tentative identification as the popular healing martyrs of Egypt, Kyros and Ioannes (Cyrus and John), a physician and soldier respectively. Like the other clay stamps found at Cherson with figures of saints, this is also likely to belong to a local shrine dedicated to these saints.

Bibliography

Yashaeva, T., The Legacy of Byzantine Cherson (Sevastopol-Austin, 2011), Cat. Nr. 370.

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