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E01259: Greek graffito with an invocation of *Kyrikos (child martyr of Tarsus, S00007), scratched on the floor of a basilica on Delos (Aegean Islands). Probably 5th-7th c.

online resource
posted on 2016-04-10, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Ἰωάννης διά̣κον
δοῦλος τοῦ ἁγί̣ου μαρ-
τύρος Κυρίκο̣υ ἔγραψε

'I, the deacon Ioannes, servant of the holy martyr Kyrikos, wrote it.'

Text: Kiourtzian 2000, no. 6.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyrikos, 3rd c. child martyr in Tarsus, son of *Julitta : S00007

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Aegean islands and Cyprus

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Delos Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


A marble plaque in the pavement in the nave of the basilica sited to the south of the monument of Tritopatores Pyrrakidon, on a surface above the monument, excavated by Hatzfeld and Dugas in 1909 (see: Holleaux, M., "Rapport sur les travaux exécutés dans l'île de Délos par l'École française d'Athènes pendant l'année 1909", Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1910), 312). The plaque is located in the centre of the western part of the nave. First mentioned by Pierre Roussel in 1916 (as referring to Saint *Kyriakos, and not *Kyrikos). Seen and copied (a squeeze) by Anastasios Orlandos in 1936, revisited by Pierre Roussel and Marcel Launey in 1937. Georges Kiourtzian says that currently only a right-hand fragment is preserved: H. 0.59 m; W. 0.27 m; Th. 0.04 m; letter height 0.02-0.03 m.


Anastasios Orlandos, the editor of the inscription, identified it as "a souvenir of a pilgrimage" (ἐνθύμημα), carved by a person visiting the churc: the deacon Ioannes, who describes himself as a servant of the holy martyr Kyrikos, almost certainly the 3rd c. child martyr of Tarsos (Cilicia, southeastern Asia Minor), son of the martyr Julitta. Based on this graffito Orlandos identified Kyrikos as the patron saint to whom the basilica was dedicated. This was accepted by Kiourtzian (2000, 51), but questioned by Bernard Flusin (2002, 251) and Michel-Yves Perrin (2002, 485). Though archaeologists frequently rely on graffiti when they identify the dedication of sanctuaries, we must note that not always it was the patron saint of a church, whom pilgrims invoked in inscribed prayers. Sometimes they addressed other figures venerated in the shrine (see: E01257), it is also possible that Ioannes served as a deacon in a church of Kyrikos in his homeland, and therefore, introduced him as his patron. Furthermore, the position of this graffito is unusual (exposed in the centre of the floor, while most pilgrim graffiti are scratched on walls, near or in rooms with reliquaries), and the sanctuary lacks other pilgrim inscriptions. For these reasons, one can wonder whether Ioannes was really a pilgrim. Orlandos stylistically dated the decorations of the basilica to the 5th c. (probably its earlier half), see: Orlandos 1936, 82. The inscription was probably carved later, but seemingly before the 8th c., when Delos was abandoned. The exodus could have started already in the mid-6th c. as no sculptures and coins later than this date have been found on the island (see: Orlandos 1936, 70). In later times the island became a refuge for pirates, so the graffito is unlikely to date from this period. Delos was resettled by the Order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, but only in the 14th c.


Edition: Kiourtzian, G., Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes des Cyclades, de la fin du IIIe au VIIIe siècle après J.-C., (Travaux et mémoires du Centre de recherche d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance. Monographies 12, Paris: De Boccard, 2000), no. 6. Inscriptions de Délos, vol. 7/2: textes divers, listes et catalogues, fragments divers postérieurs a 166 av. J.-C. (nos 2529-2879), P. Roussel, M. Launey (eds.) (Paris: H. Champion, 1937), no. 2584. Orlandos, A.K., "Délos chrétienne", Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 60 (1936), 82. Roussel, P., Délos colonie athénienne (Bibliothèque des écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome 111, Paris: Fontemoing & cie, E. de Boccard , 1916), 340, note 4 (mentioned). Further reading: Feissel, D., "Inscriptions byzantines de Ténos", Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 104/1 (1980), 505, note 60. Flusin, B., "Review: G. Kiourtzian, Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes des Cyclades, etc.", Revue des études byzantines 60 (2002), 250-251. Halkin, F., "L'Egypte, Chypre, la Crète et les autres îles grecques. La Grèce continentale et les pays balkaniques. L'Italie et la Sycylie", Analecta Bollandiana 70 (1952), 122. Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 367, 373. Perrin M.-Y., "Review in Bulletin critique: G. Kiourtzian, Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes des Cyclades, etc.", Antiquité Tardive: revue internationale d'histoire et d'archéologie 10 (2003), 485. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1938), 260. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 731.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity