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E01697: Greek inscriptions with epitaphs for lesser clerics from two churches dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), at Tyre (west Phoenicia). Probably 6th/7th c.

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posted on 08.07.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

On the east face of the sloping roof of the lid of a marble sarcophagus. L. of the lid 2.19 m; letter height 0.11 m.

Found during the archaeological surveys of the cemetery of Tyre (1963-1974), first published by Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais, based on a squeeze.

+ Σόριν διαφέρ(ον) Γεοργίου
ἰσ̣σ̣ι̣κιαρίου ὑποβολέος
ἁγίας Μαρίας +

'+ Sarcophagus belonging to Georgios, dealer of sausages, and psalmist (?) (of the church) of the Holy Mary. +'

Text: I. Tyr 1, no. 147.

Inscription 2:

On the east face of the sloping roof of the lid of a marble sarcophagus. L. of the lid 2.23 m; letter height c. 0.08 m.

Found during the archaeological surveys of the cemetery of Tyre (1963-1974), first published by Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais, based on a squeeze.

+ Σόριν διαφέρ(ον) Ἀμβροσίου
ὑποδιακό(νου) ἁγίας Μαρίας

'+ Sarcophagus belonging to Abrosios, subdeacon (of the church) of the Holy Mary.'

Text: I. Tyr 1, no. 148.

Inscription 3:

On the east face of the sloping roof of the lid of a marble sarcophagus. Letter height c. 0.05-0.06 m. Very fine carving. The north side of the sarcophagus and the north face of the lid are decorated with the large letter Α.

Found during the archaeological surveys of the cemetery of Tyre (1963-1974), first published by Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais, based on a squeeze.

+ Σορὸς διαφέρων Βαλλικίου ὑποβολήος
τῆς ἀρχέας ἁγίας Μαρίας +

'+ Sarcophagus belonging to Ballikios, psalmist (?) (of the church) of the Holy Mary, the Old One.'

Text: I. Tyr 1, no. 187.

History

Evidence ID

E01697

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

Μαρία

Image Caption 1

Sarcophagus with Inscription 1. From: I. Tyr 1, plate II.

Image Caption 2

Squeeze of Inscription 1. From: I. Tyr 1, plate LII.

Image Caption 3

Sarcophagus with Inscription 2. From: I. Tyr 1, plate VII.

Image Caption 4

Sarcophagus with Inscription 3. From: I. Tyr 1, plate XXIX.

Image Caption 5

Sarcophagus with Inscription 3. From: Chéhab 1985, plate CXXXIV.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

450

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

450

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tyre

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

Tyre Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Merchants and artisans

Discussion

The inscriptions are epitaphs for lesser clerics. One of them was a subdeacon (ὑποδιάκονος) and two held the office of ὑποβολεῖς. The actual character of the latter post is disputed, but it is probable that these people played the role of experts in liturgical singing, probably close to or identical with that of psalmists, cantors, or perhaps leaders of the choir. They could initiate the singing of psalms and supervise the correct performance of other sacred songs. Inscription 1 says that one of these ὑποβολεῖς additionally pursued the profession of a dealer of sausages, which is not surprising as in Antiquity the lesser clergy had to earn a living by having regular jobs. For a discussion of the functions of ὑποβολεῖς, see the comments in I. Tyr 1, no. 147. The epitaphs say that the deceased served in probably two churches dedicated to Mary, named respectively: ἡ ἁγία Μαρία/'the Holy Mary' and ἡ ἀρχαία ἁγία Μαρία/'the old Holy Mary'. Rey-Coquais notes that, significantly, all known churches in Tyre were dedicated to Mary, and probably for this reason the city was named that of the God-Bearer in one of the local inscriptions (see: E01765). According to the Acts of the Council of Tyre in AD 518 the principal church of the city was named 'the Holy Mary, the one in Iampsychis', and was seized by 'heretics' (apparently the Miaphysite party). Rey-Coquias suggests that this might be one of our churches, probably 'the Holy Mary' mentioned in Inscriptions 1 and 2. On the other hand, 'the old Holy Mary', from Inscription 3, is possibly identical with the cathedral basilica, constructed by the bishop Paulinos under the emperor Constantine. But even if this is so, the dedication of the church to Mary must be of a later date, as her cult was virtually non-existent in the early 4th c. (for a discussion on the churches of Tyre, see: Rey-Coquais 2005, 203-204). For similar sarcophagi with inscriptions mentioning people affiliated with churches, see the epitaphs from Diokaisareia (E01038; E01039; E01045) and Korykos (see: E01061; E01062; E01063; E01064; E01065; E01068; E01069; E01070; E01072) in southeast Asia Minor.

Bibliography

Edition: I. Tyr 1 – Rey-Coquais, J.-P. (ed.), Inscriptions grecques et latines découvertes dans les fouilles de Tyr (1963-1974), vol. 1: Inscriptions de la Nécropole (Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth 29, Paris: Librairie d'Amérique et d'Orient A. Maisonnueve, 1977), nos. 147-148; 187. Chéhab, M., "Fouilles de Tyr, La Nécropole, vol. 2: Description des fouilles", Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth 35 (1985), plate cxxxiv (Inscription 3: Ballikios). Further reading: Feissel, D., "De Sainte-Irène au domaine de Rufin. Trois notes de toponymie constantinopolitaine", Travaux et Mémoires 15 (2005), 246-247. Rey-Coquais, J.-P., "Tyr, la nécropole et ses inscriptions", [in:] N.Cambi, E.Marin (eds.), Acta XIII Congressus Internationalis Archaeologiae Christianae, Split - Poreč (25. 9. - 1. 10. 1994), vol. 3, (Split, Croatia: Archeološki muzej, Rome: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, 1998), 685-691. Rey-Coquais, J.-P., Tyr aux derniers siècles paléochrétiens: autour du synode de 518, Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph (Beyrouth, Lebanon) 58 (2005), 523-524. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1978), 522; (2006), 464. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 55, 1686.

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