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E01085: Silver casket, probably re-used as a reliquary, decorated with depictions of *Konon (one of the several homonymous martyrs of Anatolia), *Theκla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092), Christ flanked by the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008), and with Greek invocations, apparently of Konon, asked for health. Found at Çirga near Mut (Isauria, southern Asia Minor). Very probably late 5th c.

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posted on 2016-01-17, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
A silver casket, apparently re-used as a reliquary, now in the Adana Archaeology Museum. H. 0.048 m; W. 0.04 m; L. 0.098 m. Said to have been found in a church at Çirga (c. 40 km to the southwest of Mut). Decorated with depictions of Konon (two), Theκla (two), Christ accompanied by Peter, Paul, lambs and other animals, and with depictions of busts, probably of the donors (for a detailed description, see: Buschhausen 1971, pp. 190-207; Kalinowski 2011, pp. 125-126, Pilhofer 2018, pp. 255-260 [with exceptionally good photographs on p. 257]). The lid is inscribed with a votive formula, the depictions of Konon are labelled with the name of the saint and requests for health. The depictions of Thekla are accompanied by a much shorter inscription (just the epithet 'saint').


on the lid: ὑπὲρ ἀναπαύσεως τοῦ μακαρ<ί>ου Ταρασικοδισα

Ταρασικοδισα Feissel, Buschhausen, Ταρασης δίς Kalinowski, Gough, Harrison

'For the repose of the blessed Tarasikodisa.'

around the depictions of Konon: ὁ ἅγιος Κώνων· ὑγιείᾳ

'Saint Konon. For health!'

around the depictions of Thekla: ἁγία


on a small plaque fixed on the right-hand edge of the front side, near a depiction of Konon:

Κύ(ριε) Ἰη(σοῦ) (βο)ίθ(ει μοι)

perhaps ιθ΄ = 19 (a date?)

'O Lord Jesus, help me!'

Text: Buschhausen 1971, 190-207.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Konōn, gardener martyr in Magydos of Pamphylia : S00177 Konōn, martyr in Iconium of Lycaonia (central Asia Minor) : S00429 Konōn, martyr in Isauria (south-eastern Asia Minor) : S00430 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Thekla,

Saint Name in Source

Κώνων Κώνων Κώνων

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Çirga Mut Adana

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

Çirga Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Mut Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Adana Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Reliquary – privately owned

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Precious material objects


The reliquary, presumably containing relics of Konon, one of three homonymous martyrs venerated in southern Anatolia, was apparently meant to be an ex-voto offering for the repose of a member of the local elite. The object is made of silver and bears several inscriptions, while most of the eastern reliquaries that are known were made of stone and were not inscribed. The reliquary is elaborately decorated and, beside the labelled depictions of Konon, it also bears two identical pictures of a holy woman between lions, apparently showing Thekla, another martyr of southern Anatolia, and a scene with Christ flanked by the Apostles: Peter and Paul. Which is noteworthy, the Anatolian goddess Kybele was usually depicted as a woman flanked by lions, and we cannot exclude possible links between the iconography of the two figures. It is surprising that, though the lid inscription undoubtedly indicates that the reliquary was offered for the repose of the deceased, the inscriptions next to the image of Konon are requests for health. Perhaps the reliquary had been made long before the death of the man mentioned on the lid, and was originally meant to miraculously aid his health. It is also possible that the people, whose busts are shown on the reliquary, apparently donors and relatives of the deceased, were the intended beneficiaries of the requests for health. For similar formulas used in requests for health, see EXXXXXXX. There have been two attempts to read the name of the person, for whose repose the reliquary was donated. Denis Feissel, Herbet Hunger and Helmut Buschhausen argued that he was named Ταρασικοδισα (Tarasikodisa), which means that the deceased could be a namesake of the emperor Zeno, as Candidus, a 5th c. Greek-speaking historian of Isauria, claims that the emperor's Isaurian name was Ταρασικοδισ{σ}α. Feissel (1984, 564-565, note 105) adds that the passage in Candidus' history and our inscription are the only sources attesting to the existence of this name; but these testimonies would be enough to show that Tarasikodisa was a real name, and not a corrupted amalgamation of a personal name and patronym: Τάρασις Κωδίσεος (Tarasis, son of Kodisas), which is sometimes suggested (see: Harrison 1981). On the other hand, Martin Harrison in a study of inscriptions found at Alahan, the site of a monastery c. 20 km to the north of Mut and to the northwest of Korykos (see Harrison 1985, 24), argues that the name on the reliquary should be read Ταρασης δίς (Tarasis dis), 'Tarasis, the second', i.e. Tarasis, son of Tarasis, and that the person should be identified with a certain 'Tarasis dis', mentioned in an uncompleted epitaph in a niche over a rock-cut sarcophagus at Alahan (re-edited in: Harrison 1985, no. 2; see also Pilhofer 2017, 277-278). The epitaph says that the man was a priest and guardian of a church (παρμονάριος) at Alahan, and had been living there since 461. The epitaph lacks the date of his death, so it is presumed that the man left Alahan and - if he was the man of our reliquary - moved to the area where the reliquary was found. Harrison further supposes that this Tarasis supervised the building programme at Alahan, initiated by the emperor Zeno. Nonetheless, Denis Feissel considers the identification of that Tarasis with the person whose name appears on our reliquary as implausible (see: CEByz, 506). Dating: 4th c. (Buschhausen 1971, B 4, p. 205); 5th c. (Brenk 1977, p. 170, no. 139b) – based on the style of decorations and on the identification of the deceased as the person mentioned in the inscription from Alahan, which postdates 461 (see: Harrison 1985, no. 2). The existence of a rich silver object owned by a man with an Isaurian name, may well suggest a dating under the emperor Zeno (474-491).


Edition: Buschhausen, H. (ed.), Die spätrömische Metallscrinia und frühchristlichen Reliquiare (Wiener byzantinistische Studien 9, Vienna - Cologne - Graz: , 1971), 190-207. Buschhausen, H., "Frühchristliches Silberreliquiar aus Isaurien", Jahrbuch der österreichischen Byzantinischen Gesellschaft 11-12 (1962-1963), 137-168. Grabar, A., "Un reliquaire provenant d'Isaurie", Cahiers archéologiques 13 (1962), 49-59. Gough, M. "A fifth century silver reliquary from Isauria", Byzantinoslavica 19 (1958), pp. 244-250. Further reading: Aydın, A., "[in Turkish: Märtyrer, Heilige und Reliquienkult im kilikisch-isaurischen Raum]", Olba 17 (2009), 71-72, 81. Brenk, B., Brandenburg, H., Spätantike und frühes Christentum (Frankfurt a. M. – Berlin: Propyläen-Verlag, 1977), 170. 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), 108. Hagel, St., Tomaschitz, K., (eds.), Repertorium der westkilikischen Inschriften (Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Denkschriften der philosophisch-historischen Klasse 265, Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris 22, Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998), 21-22. Harrison, R.M., "The inscriptions and chronology of Alahan", in: Gough, M. & M. (ed.), Alahan, an Early Christian Monastery in Southern Turkey (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1985), 24. Kalinowski, A., Frühchristliche Reliquiare im Kontext von Kultstrategien, Heilserwartung und sozialer Selbstdarstellu (Spätantike – Frühes Christentum Byzanz 32, Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2011), 125-126. Noga-Banai, G., The Trophies of the Martyrs: An Art Historical Study of Early Christian Silver Reliquaries (Oxford: OUP, 2008), 125-126. Pilhofer, Ph., "Adnotationes epigraphicae VIII. No. 69: Die Inschrift des älteren Tarasis in Alahan", Tyche 32 (2017), 277-278. Pilhofer, Ph., Das frühe Christentum im kilikisch-isaurischen Bergland (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 184, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018), 255-260. For comments on the name Tarasikodisa, see: Feissel, D.,"Notes d'épigraphie chrétienne VII", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 108/1 (1984), 564-565, note 105. Harrison, R.M., "The emperor Zeno's real name", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 74 (1981), 27-28. Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 506.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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