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E01439: A large hollow stone block, probably a water basin (baptismal font?), with a Greek inscription with the name 'martyr Tho(- - -)'. Probably *Thomas the Apostle (S00199). Found at Tella/Constantina (north Mesopotamia/Osroene). Probably late antique.

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posted on 2016-06-03, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Fragment of a large, hollow hexagonal block, probably a water basin. There is no published description of the object.

Seen and copied in the ruins of Constantina/Tella by Victor Chapot in 1902 (it was not recorded by Otto Puchstein during his visit in 1882).

The inscription is engraved on three contiguous faces:

Face A: μάρ(τυς)/'mar(tyr)'

Face B: +

Face C: Θο/'Tho'

Chapot identified the object simply as a water basin. Filippo Canali De Rossi supposed that it served as a baptismal font.

Both editors expand the inscription on Face A as μάρτυς/'martyr'. Canali de Rossi suggests that the inscription on Face C was the beginning of the name of the martyr, to whom the church, owning the presumed baptismal font, was dedicated. The name could have been abbreviated or written in full on other, now lost, faces of the basin.

The most obvious expansion of this name is Thomas. He could be a local martyr, but it is more likely that Thomas the Apostle is meant, as he too died a martyr's death, and was popular in the region, as he was credited with the evangelisation of Parthia and India. Furthermore, his relics were kept in nearby Edessa (see: E00077; $E01358) and in Anasartha (north Syria, see: $E01620).

Dating: The editors broadly date the object to the 4th/6th c., but they give no arguments.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Thomas, the Apostle : S00199 Thomas (unspecified) : S00842 Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • 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 - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Water basins


Edition: Canali De Rossi, F., Iscrizioni dello estremo oriente greco: un repertorio (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien 65, Bonn: Habelt, 2004), no. 44. Chapot, V., "Antiquités de la Syrie du Nord", Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 26 (1902), no. 48.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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