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E00917: Fragments of a ceramic plate inscribed with a Greek acclamation for good fortune for a body named 'the Michaelitai', probably an association venerating *Michael (the Archangel, S00181). Found at Sagalassos (Pisidia, west central Asia Minor). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2015-12-01, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription on a ceramic plate:

νικᾷ ἡ τύχη Μιχαιλιτῶν κατὰ πᾶσαν πόλιν κὲ χώραν

'Long live the Michaelitai in the entire city and (her) territory!' (literally: 'May the fortune of the Michaelitai triumph in the entire city and (her) territory!')

Text: Waelkens & Owens 1994, 179-180 with comments by C. Laga.

Luke Lavan in his study of the agorae of Sagalassos (2015) also mentions the following invocations:

p. 335: from the Upper Agora
a graffito (G4) inscribed next to a gameboard (Gam9): νικᾷ ἡ τύχ(η)
a well-cut graffito/inscription (G3) from a column on the agora's west slope, found close to the find-spot of the inscribed plates: το (?) [τ]ύχ(η) Μιχαηλιτῶ[ν]

p. 337: from the Lower Agora
an acclamation on a pavement slab: νικᾷ ἡ τύχα (?) δε|<υ>τέρας ἑβδο|μάδης +

p. 343: 'minor inscriptions' from the Roman Baths:
νικᾷ ἡ τύχη Μιχαηλιτ[ῶν]
+ νικᾷ ἡ τύχη τῆς πυλ[. . .]ος (perhaps: πόλεως)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)


  • 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)

Sagalassos Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Other Chalices, censers and other liturgical vessels


A ceramic plate, found in the basin of a late antique fountain connected to the northern part of the west portico on the city's upper agora. Similar inscriptions were also found in other parts of the city – on a fragment of a column found in the southern part of the same portico (Talloen 2003, no. 137; cf. p. 123 fig. 113) and on one of the balustrades of the caldarium of the baths (Talloen 2003, no. 138; cf. p. 124 fig. 114), but they lack a proper publication. Some preliminary transcriptions were offered in 2013 by Luke Lavan. The word 'Michaelitai' was also recorded on fragments of other ceramic plates, see: Talloen 2003, nos. 135-138; cf. p. 121 fig. 111; no. 136, cf. p. 122 fig. 112). Peter Talloen, kindly informed me that one of these plates has been identified as a vessel used to serve bread. If so, these inscriptions are possibly on liturgical vessels. We would like to thank Professor Jeroen Poblome who kindly gave us permission to reproduce a photograph of the plate (copyright by the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project).


The plate bears an acclamation for good fortune for a body named 'the Michaelitai'. A similar acclamation was found at the site of the Letoon in Xanthos (see E00864). It reads: 'Long live the Marianoi!' / νικᾷ ἡ τυχὴ τõν Μαριανõν. It is supposed that both 'the Michaelitai' and 'the Marianoi' were guilds concerned with the cult of their saints. But, nevertheless, these names are puzzling. The formula νικᾷ ἡ τύχη ('may the fortune triumph') is also characteristic rather of circus factions than pious brotherhoods and implies some kind of rivalry. The formula used in Sagalassos is longer – it contains a request for good luck for 'the Michaelitai' in the entire city and the χώρα. This term normally refers to the specific territory of a city, but in this case Denis Feissel prefers to translate it as 'province' (see: CEByz, 385), which implies that we are dealing with an intermunicipal organisation. However, 'territory' seems far more obvious to us. Dating: First half of the 6th c. Based on the archaeological context.


Edition: Waelkens, M., Owens, E., "The excavations at Sagalassos 1993", Anatolian Studies 44 (1994), 179-180 (with comments by C. Laga). Talloen, P., Cult in Pisidia. Religious Practice in Southwestern Asia Minor from the Hellenistic to the Early Byzantine Period, vol. 2: Text (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 2003, unpublished PhD thesis), no. 134. Further reading: Lavan, L., "The agorai of Sagalassos in Late Antiquity: An interpretive study", in L. Lavan, M. Mulryan (eds.), Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 335, 343 (with more examples of this invocation mentioned and provisionally transcribed). Talloen, P., Cult in Pisidia. Religious Practice in Southwestern Asia Minor from the Hellenistic to the Early Byzantine Period, vol. 2: Text (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 2003, unpublished PhD thesis). Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 385. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 44, 1111.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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