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E01139: Small bronze leaf with an inscription labelling animals (probably horses) of a monastery dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Now in a private collection. Probably originating from northern or central Asia Minor. Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2016-02-22, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
A small bronze rectangular leaf with four loops fixed on the corners. H. 0.067 m; W. 0.102 m; Th. 0.003 m. Dimensions of the inscribed field: H. 0.037 m; W. 0.073 m. Published by Denis Feissel after examination of the object and from a photograph.

Provenance unknown. Probably northern or central Asia Minor. Now in a private collection.

Dating: Probably 6th c. (based on the lettering).


ἄλογα διαφέροντ-
α μωνῆς τῆς ἁγία-
ς καὶ ἐνδόξου Μ-
αρίας χωρίου Γελ-
εου Σισιννίου ἐνκλ(είστου)

'Animals belonging to the monastery of the holy and glorious Mary of the village of Geleos (?), of Sisinnios, the enclosed monk.'

Text: Feissel 1994.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


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 name in other Language(s)

Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Awarding privileges to cult centres

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Animals


The inscription is a label, stating that certain animals, ἄλογα (probably horses, but possibly cattle or even camels), were owned by a monastery dedicated to Mary. The monastery was located in the territory of a village Geleos or Geleon. The toponym is, unfortunately, otherwise unattested, but Denis Feissel notes that it resembles pre-Greek Anatolian toponyms, common in northern and central Asia Minor, for example: Goloid(a) in Lydia, Goloi(a) in Phrygia, Goloe, Goleous/Goeleous in Galatia, and Galae in Helenopontus. The monastery was apparently founded by a monk Sisinnios. A passage from the Life of St. *Konon of Isauria (ed. Trautmann & Klostermann, p. 313, lines 17-30) says that such leaves were hung round the neck of animals: τὸ τῆς δεσποτείας αὐτοῦ ὄνομα ἤτοι σημεῖον, ὅ ἐστιν τίτλον ἐν τραχήλῳ περικεκραμένον / 'This is the name, that is the sign, of its ownership, which is a label hung round the neck'. But several ancient statues of horses show them attached to their heads (see: Bendall & Morrisson 2003, 39). Feissel (1992, 396-404) also cites specific 6th c. leaves that marked horses owned by the imperial armamentum, which were thus immune from requisition by the cursus publicus. Perhaps our leaf informed people that the monastery enjoyed the same privilege, or played a role similar to that of boundary stones, indicating inalienable ecclesiastical property. For an inscribed horse brass with invocations of *Theodore (presumably the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480) and *Zechariah (probably the father of John the Baptist, S00597), see: E00927.


Edition: Feissel, D., "Notes d'épigraphie chretienne (IX)", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 118/1 (1994), 284-288. Further reading: Bendall, S., Morrisson, C., "Protecting horses in Byzantium. A bronze plaque from the Armamenton, a branding iron and a horse brass", ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΟ ΚΡΑΤΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑ. ΜΝΗΜΗ ΝΙΚΟΥ ΟΙΚΟΝΟΜΙΔΗ (Vyzantio kratos kai koinōnia: mnēmē Nikou Oikonomidē / Byzantium, State and Society. In memory of Nikos Oikonomides), eds. A. Abramea, A. Laïou, E. Chrysos (Athens: Institouto Vyzantinōn Ereunōn, Ethniko Hidryma Ereunōn, 2003), 31-49. Feissel, D., "Notes d'épigraphie chretienne (VIII)", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 116/1 (1992), 396-404. The Life of St. Konon of Isauria: Trautmann, R., Klostermann, R., (eds.), "Drei griechische Texte zum Codex Suprasliensis. II. Das Martyrium von Konon dem Isaurier", Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie 11 (1934), 299-324. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 44, 1570.

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