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E00991: Greek invocation of *Theodotos (probably a Montanist martyr of Ankyra, S00626), asked to aid the health of an artisan. Found at Kalecik near Ankyra (Galatia, central Asia Minor), apparently at the site of his martyr shrine. Probably 5th-6th c.

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posted on 2015-12-15, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
ἅγιε Θεόδοτε βοήθι αὐτὸν· Ἀντωνίνου τεχνίτου Θεοδότου ὑγίᾳ

1. αὐτõν Mitchell Tabbernee, αὐτõν = αὐτοῦ (?) Tabbernee

'Saint Theodotos, help him! (Aid) the health of Antoninos, artisan (of the sanctuary) of Theodotos.'

Text: Tabbernee 1997, no. 88.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodotos, a probably Montanist martyr of Ancyra (Galatia, central Asia Minor), ob. c. 312 : S00626

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Ankyra Malos

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

Ankyra Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Malos Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - cemetery/catacomb

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Merchants and artisans Other lay individuals/ people Heretics


A fragmentary octagonal column base of grey limestone, with carvings of crosses, palm leaves, a rosette, a vine, and a snake. Partially buried. Visible dimensions: H. 0.65 m; diameter 0.8 m. Found and photographed by I.W. Macpherson in the 1950s at the site of a cemetery (probably in situ) at Kalecik (ancient Malos, area of Ankyra, Galatia, central Asia Minor), revisited and copied by Stephen Mitchell in 1981. The text runs below the carvings, around the column. In 2017 Philipp Niewöhner suggested that although Mitchell's identification of the site as that of the martyr shrine of Theodotos is very probable, one could also think of other possibilities, for example, that the stone comes from a decorated wine or oil press, perhaps from an estate belonging to a monastery. This hypothesis could be verified only through a closer examination of the find spot (whether it was an ancient cemetery, and whether the stone was part of a building erected there over the tomb of the martyr).


The inscription is an invocation of Theodotos, apparently the martyr known from the Martyrdom of Theodotos (for a commentary on this martyrdom account, see: Barnes 2010, 155-159 Tabbernee 1997, 526-528; Mitchell 1982). Timothy Barnes suggests that it is the first preserved example of 'deliberate hagiographical fiction' and it illustrates the period when Christians began to be aware of 'the edificatory possibilities of fictious hagiography', but it is at the same time a reliable source regarding the cultic geography of Ankyra and its environment. Theodotos was a shopkeeper at Ankyra, and was sentenced to death by Theoteknos, a governor of Galatia under Maximinus Daia (c. 312). It has been disputed whether Theodotos was a Montanist martyr, and whether his sanctuary at Malos / Kalecik was exclusively or predominantly Montanist. But William Tabbernee notes that though the Martyrdom of Theodotos contains some details and allusions compatible with this view, in fact no definite conclusions can be reached about the shrine's religious affiliation (see Tabbernee 1997, 529-532). When the body of Theodotos was being transported to Malos, the donkeys stopped at a place Theodotos had considered as appropriate for a martyr shrine, while he was still alive. Consequently, he was buried there himself and a martyr shrine was soon constructed. Stephen Mitchell and William Tabbernee suppose that our inscription was found at this precise site and that both the Martyrdom of Theodotus and the shrine existed already in the 360s. The identity of the supplicant or supplicants, who carved our inscription, is disputable. Because the names Antoninos and Theodotos, in the second part of the inscription, are not separated by the conjunction καί it is not clear if the saint was invoked on behalf of one or two persons. Tabbernee interpreted the pronoun ΑΥΤΟΝ as the genitive plural αὐτõν and argued that the phrase should be understood: ἅγιε Θεόδοτε βοήθι αὐτõν Ἀντωνίνου τεχνίτου, Θεοδότου ὑγίᾳ / 'Saint Theodotos, help them: aid the health of Antoninos, artisan, (and) of Theodotos'. The expression Ἀντωνίνου τεχνίτου Θεοδότου may, however, be interpreted also as: 1) 'Antoninos, artisan (of the martyr shrine) of Theodotos', which is in concord with a generally accepted supposition that Antoninos was a stonemason, probably the constructor or renovator of the martyr shrine (as a renovation is mentioned in the dedicatory inscription, also found at the site, see E00992); 2) 'Antoninos, artisan, (son) of Theodotos'. In this case, the pronoun ΑΥΤΟΝ should be understood as the accusative singular, αὐτόν / 'him'. For an identical formula of a request for health, see E00927. Dating: probably 5th or 6th c. (based on the letter forms and the contents).


Edition: Tabbernee, W. (ed.), Montanist Inscriptions and Testimonia: Epigraphic Sources for Illustrating the History of Montanism (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1997), no. 88. I. North Galatia, no. 212. Macpherson, I. W., New Evidence for the Historical Geography of Galatia (Unpublished Cambridge University PhD thesis: 1958), 184, no. 265. Inscriptiones Christianae Graecae database, no. 2382: Further reading: Destephen, S., "Martyrs locaux et cultes civiques en Asie Mineure", in: J.C. Caillet, S. Destephen, B. Dumézil, H. Inglebert, Des dieux civiques aux saints patrons (IVe-VIIe siècle) (Paris: éditions A. & J. Picard, 2015), 102. Mitchell, St., "The Life of Saint Theodotus of Ancyra", Anatolian Studies 32 (1982), 93-113. Mitchell, St., Anatolia. Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2: The Rise of the Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 68, 93. Mitchell, St., "An apostle to Ankara from the New Jerusalem: Montanists and Jews in Late Roman Asia Minor", Scripta Classica Israelica 24 (2005), 216. Niewöhner, Ph., "Das Rätsel der anatolischen Kreuzsteine: Evidenz für Kirche und Mönchtum als Faktoren der byzantinischen Siedlungsgeographie?", in: A. Külzer, M. St. Popović (eds.), Space, Landscapes and Settlements in Byzantium. Studies in Historical Geography of the Eastern Mediterranean Presented to Johannes Koder (Vienna–Novi Sad, Akademska knjiga: 2017), 251-252, 264. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1984), 481; (1983), 428, 434. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 32, 1264.

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