A bronze figurine of a bull, found at Ankara and now in the British Museum. H. 0.052 m; W. 0.058 m. The bull has a cross between its horns and abnormally large hooves. Inscriptions are engraved on both sides of the bull. Images of such bulls are common in Armenian iconography. Anne Roes notes that the Kaiser Friedrich Museum (now the Bode Museum) in Berlin owns a similar figurine of a ram, found at Trabzon (H. 0.011 m). The ram also has a loop, so it was probably hung as a votive offering.
Inscriptions on sides of the figurine:
+ τὸν ἅγηον Ῥ-
'(For?) + Saint Rhyphsis'
Left side (written from right to left):
+ κὲ τὸν ἅγη-
'+ and Saint Ktimon.'
Text: Roes 1950, 221-228.
Saint NameKtimon, probably an Anatolian martyr : S00642
Rhyphsis : S00644
Rhipsime, an Armenian virgin and martyr, ob. c. 290 : S00645
Saint Name in SourceΚτίμον
Type of EvidenceImages and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)
Inscriptions - Inscribed objects
Evidence not before400
Evidence not after600
Activity not before500
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionAsia Minor
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAnkyra
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Ankyra
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Cult Related ObjectsEx-votos
DiscussionThe figurine is inscribed with two names of saints, interestingly given in the accusative, instead of the vocative or dative, which are common in invocations of saints and dedications in the East. However, in Late Antiquity the accusative case was gradually taking over the functions of the dative case and our object may illustrate this trend. For a similar formula, this time referring to Peter the Apostle, see E00843. The inscription on the right side of the figurine is written backwards (from right to left).
Anne Roes comments that the figurine must have been a votive offering to the mentioned saints. Unfortunately, their identity is not clear. The inscription says that the saints' names are Rhyphsis and Ktimon. Such figures are not addressed in monumental inscriptions from Anatolia. However, a certain *Ktimon (Κτίμον) is depicted in a 10th or 11th c. painting found by Guillaume de Jerphanion in a rock-cut church in at Keledjlar (Cappadocia). Ktimon is shown there together with other, well known, martyrs of central and northern Anatolia: *Photios, *Aniketos, *Theodotos, *Platon, *Tarasios, *Kallinikos, and *Polycarp. Therefore, though he is not recorded in Eastern calendars and martyrologia, we can infer that he was also of Anatolian origin (see Jerphanion 1925-1942, vol. 1, 210 note 2, 316). The identity of *Rhyphsis is more puzzling. Following the advice of Paul Peeters, Roes suggests that this figure is to be identified with *Rhipsime, a 4th c. Armenian virgin and martyr (despite the fact that in our inscription Rhypsis is apparently a male saint, as the name is preceded by the masculine article τόν).
Roes believes that the offering of a bull figurine to saints is a manifestation of overlapping Christian and pagan traditions. On the one hand, the bull was a symbol of Luke the Evangelist, but on the other, bull offerings were frequent in pagan Cappadocia and at the Syro-Anatolian border. Oxen offerings were still practised by the 6th c. Christians in Anatolia (see the Life of Nicholas of Holy Sion, E04957).
Dating: 5th-6th c. (stylistic dating).
Roes, A., "Un bronze d'Asie Mineure au Musé britanique", Syria 27 (1950), 221-228.
Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IX, Asie Mineure", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 93.
de Jerphanion, G. (ed.), Une nouvelle province de l'art byzantin : les églises rupestres de Cappadoce, vol. 1, part 1(Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1925), 210 note 2, 316.
Mouterde, R., "[Review:] Anne Roes – L'aigle psychopompe de l'époque impériale (dans les Mélanges Charles Picard, II 1949, pp. 881-891, 5 fig.) – Un bronze d'Asie Mineure au Musée Britannique (Extrait de Syria, XXVII, 1950, pp. 223-227, 5 fig.)", Mélanges de l'Université Saint Joseph 29 (1951-1952), 368-370.