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E01773: Bronze lamp with a Greek dedicatory inscription to 'holy Saba'. Found at Khirbet esh-Shubeika near Tyre (north west Galilee/southwest Phoenicia). Probably 6th-8th c.

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posted on 2016-07-26, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
A bronze lamp, found at Khirbet esh-Shubeika, at the corner of building G, in layer IIIA, during the salvage excavations by the Israel Antiquity Authority in 1991/1993. The lamp is shaped as a discus with two elongated nozzles and two chain suspension hooks between the discus and the nozzles. Decorated with engravings of circles around the opening and at the opposite end of the discus. It was probably attached to a stand, and not hung, as is shown by traces on its base.

The inscription is on one wide side of the lamp. The editors suppose that it was engraved some time after the manufacturing of the lamp.

First mentioned by Mordechai Avi’am in 1995; first published by Dina Avshalom-Gorni, Ayelet Tatcher, and Vassilios Tzaferis in 2001, and again by Vassilios Tzaferis in 2002. Seen and examined by Leah Di Segni.

ἁγίῳ Σάβ<β>ᾳ Χα-
λείπας ἀνέθηκε

1-2. Χα|λείπας or Χα|λείφας or Χα|λέσπας Tzaferis 2002, possibly Χα|λαπας Di Segni in SEG || 3. χζ΄ = χ(ρόνοις) ζ΄Avshalom-Gorni, Tatcher & Tzaferis 2001, χς = χ(ρόνοις) Tzaferis 2002, = χ(ρόνοις) ςʹ (ἰνδικτιῶνος) or αγ = ἅγ(ιε) Di Segni in SEG, = χ(ρόνοις) ϛ΄ (ἰνδικτιῶνος) or χς΄ = 606 Feissel in BE

'To saint Sabbas. Chaleipas offered (it).' (possibly followed by a date)

Text: SEG 52, 1669 with remarks by D. Feissel in BE (2005), 524.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sabbas (unspecified) : S00909 Sabbas the Sanctified, founder of the Mar Saba Monastery in Palestine, ob. 532 : S00910

Saint Name in Source

Σάβας Σάβας

Type of Evidence

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


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tyre Khirbet esh-Shubeika

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

Tyre Thabbora Thabbora Khirbet esh-Shubeika Thabbora Thabbora Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles Precious material objects


The lamp was probably a gift from a certain Chaleipas (the name can be also read as Chaleiphas, Chalepas, Chalespas or Chalapas, see the apparatus) to a church or monastery dedicated to Saint Sabbas, a local holy ascetic or martyr, or less probably *Sabbas the Sanctified, the famous Cappadocian monk and founder of the Monastery of Mar Saba in Palaestina I (ob. 532). The latter possibility is, however, discussed by the editors. The evidence of the lamp and of the inscriptions, listed in E01776, suggest that the monastery, unearthed in the village, could have been dedicated to Saint Sabbas, and its church to the martyr Sergios. Gifts of this kind (as well as censers, incense, oil, wax) were usually offered to churches and monasteries by supplicants, seeking the intercession of clergy or of the holy patrons themselves, as these objects were necessary for the performance of specific liturgical rites and thus welcomed by church authorities. Offerings of censers and incense are, for example, frequently shown in scenes with stylites and their columns. The meaning of the two signs in line 3 is problematic. At first Avshalom-Gorni, Tatcher, and Tzaferis suggested that the signs were χζ, which they expanded as χ(ρόνοις) ζ΄/'In the times of the 7th (indiction?)'. However, in 2002 Tzaferis and, having examined the object, also Leah Di Segni stated that one should read the second sign not as ζ, but rather ς: χ(ρόνοις) ςʹ (ἰνδικτιῶνος)/'In the times of the 6th indiction'. Di Segni considered yet another reading: that both signs were an abbreviated invocation: αγ = ἅγ(ιε)/'O Holy!' Denis Feissel pointed out that the letters χς might stand for the number 606, which he identified as the 606th year of the era of Tyre (= AD 480/481; for the possible subordination of the ancient village at the site of Khirbet esh-Shubeika to the metropolitan see of Tyre, see: E01776). Given the very concise character of the inscription, we cannot judge in favour of any of these hypotheses. Dating: the archaeological context of the site points to the 6th-8th c.


Edition: Tzaferis, V., “[Title in Hebrew:] Excavations at Khirbet el-Shubeika 1991, 1993. The Inscriptions”, in: Z. Gal (ed.), Eretz Zafon: Studies in Galilean Archaeology (Jerusalem: Rashut ha-ʿatiḳot, 2002), 340. Avshalom-Gorni, D., Tatcher, A., Tzaferis, V., "The veneration of St. Sabas in southern Phoenicia: the evidence of a bronze oil lamp from Khirbet esh-Shubeika", in: J. Patrich (ed.), The Sabaite Heritage in the Orthodox Church from the Fifth Century to the Present (Leuven: Peters, 2001), 347-352. Further reading: Israeli, Y., Mevorah, D., Cradle of Christianity (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 2000), (photograph). Avi’am, M., "שרידי כנסיות ומנזרים בגליל המערבי [Remains of churches and monasteries in western Galilee], Qadmoniot: A Journal for the Antiquities of Eretz-Israel and Bible Lands 28 (1995), 54-55 (mentioned). Bulletin épigraphique (2005), 524. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 52, 1669 (description in English); 53, 1829.

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