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E01023: Greek epitaph for a married couple buried at the entrance to a sanctuary of *John the Baptist (S00020). Composed in elegiac couplets. Found near Tyana (Cappadocia, central Asia Minor). Probably 5th-6th c.

online resource
posted on 2015-12-27, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
In two elegiac couplets, laid out over six lines:

ὦ ξένε, Καρτηρίης ὁράᾳς τά|φον, ἀντία δ' αὐτοῦ
κευθόμεν|ος κεῖται τῆσδε πόσις φθίμενος,|
ἐγγύθι Βαπτιστοῖο παρὰ προθ|ύροισι μελάθρου
δάκρυα δερκο|μένοις πᾶσι φέρων ναέταις

1. Καρτερίης = Καρτερίας Nollé || ἄντια Weber, ἄντινα Peek || 3. ΒΑΠΤΙΣΤΟΙΟ Peek, Βαπτιστοῖο Robert Grégoire Weber

'O stranger, you behold the tomb of Karteria. In front of it her deceased husband lies concealed, near the Baptist, by the door-way of (his) house (i.e. church), bringing tears to all inhabitants looking at it.'

Text: I. Tyana, no. 105.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions


  • 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)

Tyana Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Other lay individuals/ people


A marble plaque. H. 2.0 m; W. 1.0 m. Below the inscription there is a large carving of a Latin cross. Anastasios Levides claimed to have found the stone at a monastic church of *John the Baptist, located on the coast of a lake near Bor/İftyan. The site was revisited by Hans Rott's expedition in 1906 and Wilhelm Weber re-edited the inscription in the epigraphic appendix to Rott's report in 1908. Weber did not refer to Levides' description of the find-spot and he did not clearly indicate it himself, but placed the inscription immediately after the monuments from the cemetery of a modern church of the Seven Martyrs (for the church, see: Rott 1908, p. 98). Rott and Weber supposed that most of the epigraphic monuments at Bor had been brought there from nearby Tyana. In 1907 Linton Smith and John Garstang copied the inscription again, in the course of an expedition authorised by the Liverpool University Institute of Archaeology (focused mostly on pre-Hellenic, especially Hittite, monuments). Unfortunately, in 1912 the monument was not re-edited by Smith together with other finds. Smith just mentioned that the inscription was still present at Bor, providing no further details on the find-spot. Yet another copy was made by Henri Grégoire, during his stay at Bor in the autumn of 1907. However, the French scholar did not reprint the text in his report in 1909, stating that the Rott copy was accurate. Unfortunately, he too did not add any details on the place where he had seen the stone. Dietrich Berges and Johannes Nollé, the editors of Die Inschriften von Tyana, explored the site but did not find any ruins of a church at the site indicated by Levides. They only came across a small water basin and a spring. Tyana was one of the most prominent cities in Cappadocia, the capital of the province of Cappadocia Secunda (after its creation by the emperor Valens in 372) and the rival city of Kaisareia/Caesarea.


The inscription is the epitaph for Karteria, an otherwise unknown woman, and her unnamed (!) husband, consisting of two elegiac couplets and explicitly indicating a burial close to (relics of) John the Baptist - a burial ad sanctos. The couple certainly belonged to the local elite, as their gravestone is much larger and the epitaph much more sophisticated than in the case of regular burials. In verse 3 we read that the couple was buried close to a shrine of John the Baptist, next to the gate of the sanctuary: ἐγγύθι Βαπτιστοῖο παρὰ προθύροισι μελάθρου. Surprisingly, Werner Peek, the editor of the Griechische Vers-Inschriften, did not understand the phrase and printed the word Βαπτιστοῖο in majuscules, as an unintelligible expression. Consequently he did not even recognise the inscription as Christian and dated it to the 3rd c. AD. However, the word Βαπτιστοῖο, cannot be understood otherwise than as the epic genitive of Βαπτιστής/'the Baptist'. The Christian affiliation of the monument was demonstrated by Louis Robert in his review article of Peek's work (see Robert 1959, 23). A similar view had also been expressed earlier by Henri Grégoire, who stressed the uniqueness of the discussed grammatical form and its clear links to the cult of John. Though Weber did not comment on, or translate the inscription, he must have had the same interpretation in mind, as he printed the word Βαπτιστοῖο as a name, starting with a capital letter. A burial ad sanctos, close to a sanctuary of John the Baptist may be attested by another inscription from Bor, see E01022. Dating: probably 5th-6th c. (based on the contents and the metre).


Edition: Die Inschriften von Tyana, no. 105. Steinepigramme aus dem Griechischen Osten III, no. 13/07/03. Peek, W. (ed.), Griechische Vers-Inschriften, vol. 1: Grab-Epigramme (Berlin : Akademie-Verlag, 1955), no. 134. Weber, W., "Die Inschriften", [in:] H. Rott and others (ed.), Kleinasiatische Denkmäler aus Pisidien, Pamphylien, Kappadokien und Lykien (Studien über christliche Denkmäler 5 & 6, Leipzig: Dietrich, 1908), no. 81 (from Rott's transcription). Levides, Α.Μ., Αἱ ἐν μονολίθοις μοναὶ τῆς Καππαδοκίας καὶ Λυκαονίας (Constantinople: Typois Alexandrou Nomismatidou, 1899), 108 (from his own transcription). Further reading: Grégoire, H., "Rapport sur un voyage d'exploration dans le Pont et en Cappdoce", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 33 (1909), no. 117bis. Robert, L.,"Inscriptions métriques", Gnomon (1959), 23 = Opera Minora Selecta: épigraphie et antiquités grecques, vol. 3, (Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1969), 1640-1669. Smith, M.L., Tod, M.N., "Greek inscriptions from Asia Minor", Annals of Archaeology & Anthropology 4 (1912), no. 26b. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1959), 437; cf. (1965), 2 (mentioned).

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