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E00766: Fragmentary Greek inscription with headings of two imperial letters, apparently from Justinian to Hypatios, bishop of Ephesos (western Asia Minor). The letters probably deal with tensions between the bishop of Ephesos and the clergy of the church of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) and the church of *John the Apostle and Evangelist (S00042). 527-533.

online resource
posted on 2015-10-13, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Plaque inscribed on both faces:

Face A:
[Αὐτ]οκράτωρ Καῖσαρ Φλ(άουιος) Ἰ[ουστινιανὸς ἔνδοξος νικητὴς,]
[τροπ]αιοῦχος ἀεισέβασ[τος Αὔγουστος]
[Ὑπ]ατίῳ τῷ ὁσιωτ(άτῳ) ἀρχιεπισκ[όπῳ Ἐφεσίων· τὴν τάξιν τῶν]
[δικ]αίων ἑκάστης ἁγιωτάτης ἐ[κκλησίας παντὶ τρόπῳ]
[διαφ]υλάττεσθαι διὰ παντὸς ὀφε[ιλόντων καὶ μηδεμίαν ἐκεῖ]
[καθί]στασθαι καινοτομίαν. ἀνάγ[κη οὖν τὴν μεγάλην ἐκκλησίαν δέ]-
[ξασθ]αι τὰ ὀφείλοντα παρά τε τῆς σ[ῆς ὁσιότητος καὶ ἑκάσ]-
[του τ]ὴν αὐτῆς ἱερωσύν[ην κατέχοντος, τὸν δὲ σεβάσμιον τοῦ ἁ]-
[γίου] ἀποστόλου θεολό[γου καὶ εὐαγγελιστοῦ οἶκον, τὸν]
[τιμὴ]ν τῆς Ἐφεσίων ὄντ[α πόλεως, - - -]
[.. θε]ίῳ πραγματικῷ [τύπῳ - - -]

Face B:
[Αὐτοκράτωρ Καῖσαρ Φλ(άουιος) Ἰουστινιανὸς ἔνδοξος νικ]ητὴς, τροπαιο[ῦχος,]
[ἀεισέβαστος, Αὔγουστος Ὑπατίῳ τῷ ὁσιωτάτῳ ἀ]ρχιεπισκό(πῳ) Ἐφεσ[ίων]
ο]υσας τὰς πανταχ[όθεν]
διά]νοιαν ἀγαγεῖν ἐσπ[εύσα-]
[μεν ] ἁρμονίαν συν[
] κατὰ μέρος .κ[
] ἑωράκαμεν [
]ν ἱερῶν [

A 5-6. [δικ]αίων ἑκάστης ἁγιωτάτης ἐ[ν Ἐφέσῳ ἐκκλησίας ἀναλλακτον | διαφ]υλάττεσθαι διὰ παντὸς ὀφε[ίλεις καὶ μηδεμίαν ἐκεῖ] I. Ephesos || A. 10-11. οἶκον, κόσ|μο]ν I. Ephesos, οἶκον, τὸν | τιμὴ]ν Keil Feissel

Face A: '+ Emperor Caesar Fl(avius) J[ustinianus, the glorious conqueror, trium]phator, forever em[peror, Augustus], to [Hyp]atios the most holy archbish[op of the Ephesians. The order] of privileges of each most holy church in Ephesos must be always kept [without] establishing any innovation. It is therefore necessary that [the Great Church receives] what is due both from y[our holiness] and [from anyone holding] its priesthood (= the episcopate of Ephesos?). [As for the Reverend House of the holy] Apostle, the Theologian [and Evangelist, which is the glory of the city] of the Ephesians [- - -] by the divine pragmatic sanction [- - -].'

Face B: '+ [Emperor Caesar Fl(avius) Justinian, the glorious conq]ueror, triumph[ator, forever Augustus, Augustus to Hypatios the most holy a]rchbishop of the Ephes[ians. - - -] from all sides [- - -] we sought eagerly to bring moderation [- - -] harmony [- - -] partially [- - -] of the sacred [- - -].'

Text: I. Ephesos, no. 4133. Translation: E. Rizos, P. Nowakowski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Evangelist : S00042 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Image Caption 1

Face A; from: FiE 4/1, 100.

Image Caption 2

Face B; from: FiE 4/1, 100.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Canonical and legal texts


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Ephesus Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Awarding privileges to cult centres

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family


Three matching fragments of a blue marble plaque, inscribed on both faces. Overall dimensions: H. 0,38 m; W. 0,41 m; Th. 0,042 m – 0,038 m. Two fragments were found in 1904, at the site of the church of *Mary in Ephesos, reused in the lid of a tomb. One fragment was found in 1899 by Heberedy, in the ruins.


The preserved fragments of the inscription give us headings and initial lines of two imperial letters. The editors admit that they reconstructed substantial passages of the text only illustratively. It seems that the first letter was sent by the emperor Justinian to Hypatios, bishop of Ephesos (see PCBE 3, Hypatios 4). The document may refer to some tensions between the bishop and the clergy of the two most prominent churches in the town. The emperor forbids the introduction of any innovations and says that the bishop and his successors must ensure that all the due privileges of the churches will never be violated. In l. 11 we find a reference to an imperial rescript (called a pragmatic sanction, πραγματικὸς τύπος), which may be the discussed document itself or another legal decision that had been issued to deal with similar matters. Based on the imperial titulature, lacking reference to victory over Vandals, one can date the letter to AD 527-533. The contents of the second letter are almost completely lost. One can only guess that the emperor sought to settle a quarrel.


Edition: Die Inschriften von Ephesos, no. 4133. Keil, J., Reisch, E., Knoll, F. (eds.), Forschungen in Ephesos, vol. 4/1: Die Marienkirche in Ephesos (Vienna: Selbstverlag des ÖAI Wien, 1932), no. 33. Further Reading: Amelotti, M., Luzzatto, G.I., (eds.), Le costituzioni giustinianee nei papiri e nelle epigrafi (Milan: Giuffrè, 1972), 94-95, nos. 5 and 6. Amelotti, M., Migliardi Zingale, L., (eds.), Le costituzioni giustinianee nei papiri e nelle epigrafi (Milan: Giuffrè, 1985), 108-109, nos. 5 and 6. Feissel, D., "Épigrahie administrative et topographie urbaine: l'emplacement des actes inscrits dans l'Éphèse protobyzantine (IVe – VIe s.)", in: R. Pillinger, O. Kersten, F. Krinzinger, O. Russo (eds.), Efeso paleocristiana e bizantina (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1999), 121-132. Feissel, D., Documents, droit, diplomatique de l'Empire romain tardif (Bilans de recherche 7, Paris, 2010), 63-64, 276. Foss, C., Ephesus after Antiquity. A Late Antique, Byzantine and Turkish City (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 44, notes 42 and 43; 92, note 95. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1987), 398. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 36, 1033. For the career of the bishop Hypatios see: Alexander, P.J., "Hypatius of Ephesus: A note on image worship in the sixth century", The Harvard Theological Review 45 (1952), 177-184. Destephen, S., Prosopographie du Diocese d'Asie (325-641) (Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire 3, Paris: Association des amis du centre d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance, 2008), Hypatios 4.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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