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E01430: Copper disc with a depiction of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) and *Gabriel (the Archangel, S00192) in the Annunciation scene. Probably from Constantina/Tella (north Mesopotamia/Osroene). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2016-06-02, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Copper disc/medallion, resembling the bottom of a cup. Diameter: c. 0.14 m; Th. c. 0.01-0.015 m. Broken and lost on the lower, left-hand quarter.

The disc is now in a private collection in Munich. It probably comes from Constantina/Tella (modern Viranşehir) in north Mesopotamia.

The inner part of the disc shows the scene of the Annunciation. The Archangel Gabriel is approaching Mary from the left. He is wearing a chlamys and stretching his right arm towards the Virgin. In his left hand he is holding a staff (a spear?). Mary is facing the viewer of the object. She is wearing a maphorion, holding a spindle, and taking (purple) wool out of a basket lying next to her feet. The scene renders the story of the Annunciation, as described in the Protoevangelium of James (11,1-2). It is said there that Mary was chosen from among eight women, descendants of David, to make a new purple curtain for the Temple.

The inscription runs in a band, around the edges of the object. It reads:

+ εὐλογία τῆς ἁγ(ίας) Μαρίας δια[- - -]̣ν̣σταντίνης

The inscription is fragmentary and so far two possible completions have been suggested. Brigitte Pitarakis read the label of the objet as: + εὐλογία τῆς ἁγ(ίας) Μαρίας δια[κονία τῆς Κω]νσταντίνης (corrected to διακονίας by Christian Schmidt), which means '+ Blessing of the Holy Mary from the diakonia in Constantina'. In her opinion diakonia means here a charitable institution, run by a monastery. Pitarakis points out that some of such institutions, located near Constantina/Tella, owned copper mines and several copper liturgical vessels, found in that area, were identified as their products. The other possible reconstruction, paralleled by an inscription from a terracotta medallion that served as a souvenir of a pilgrimage/eulogia (see: $EXXXX), is: + εὐλογία τῆς ἁγ(ίας) Μαρίας δια[μονῆς τῆς Κο]νσταντίνης, i.e.: '+ Blessing of the Holy Mary from her dwelling in Constantina'. It is probable that our disc was, likewise, a souvenir that was acquired by a pilgrim, visiting a sanctuary of Mary or that it was used as a patera for serving blessed bread, distributed at the end of the Eucharistic liturgy.

Dating: Schmidt notes that the Annunciation scene with standing Mary, and Gabriel approaching her from the left, is characteristic of the 6th c.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Gabriel, the Archangel : S00192

Saint Name in Source


Image Caption 1

From: Stiegemann 2001, no. I 45.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Lamps, ampullae and tokens Images and objects - Narrative scenes


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Constantina/Tella Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Cult Activities - Relics

Ampullae, eulogiai, tokens

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Ampullae, flasks, etc. Chalices, censers and other liturgical vessels


Edition: Stiegemann, Ch., Byzanz, das Licht aus dem Osten: Kult und Alltag im Byzantinischen Reich vom 4. bis 15. Jahrhundert: Katalog der Ausstellung im Erzbischöflichen Diözesanmuseum Paderborn, Paderborn 2001 (Mainz: P. von Zabern, 2001), 142-144, no. I 45 (descr. Ch. Schmidt). Israeli Y., Mevorah, D. (eds.), Cradle of Christianity (Exhibition in Jerusalem 2000, Jerusalem: 2000), 148, 223. Wamser, L., Zahlhaas, G. (eds.), Rom und Byzanz. Archäologische Kostbarkeiten aus Bayern (Ausstellung München, Prähistorische Staatssammlung München, 1998/1999; Munich: 1998), 28-30, no. 18 (descr. Ch. Schmidt). Vassiliaki, M. (ed.), The Mother of God, Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art (Exhibition in Athens 2000, Mailand: 2000), no. 5 (descr. B. Pitarakis). Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 1092. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 55, 1933.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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