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E01819: Fragment probably of a bronze reliquary cross with a labelled depiction of probably *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030). Found near Belen (Amanus Mountains, northwest Syria). 6th c. or later.

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posted on 2016-08-25, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
A bronze cross. H. 0.083 m; max W. 0.048 m; Th. 0.004 m. Decorated with an engraving of a man with a nimbus and raised arms, in a posture of prayer (orans), according to the editor wearing a jacket with long sleeves, a belt, and possibly trousers. But this garment seems to be actually a tunic, perhaps with an omophorion.

Found near Belen in the Amanus Mountains, to the north of Antioch-on-the-Orontes. First recorded by Ugo Monneret de Villard. Published in 1950 by René Mouterde, based on a drawing and a photograph.

The inscription is engraved above the head of the figure, from right to left:

ἔνδο(ξος) Στέ(φανος)

ἐνδόκτε = ἐν(ε)δόχθη the original reading by Mouterde

'The glorious Stephen.'

Text: IGLS 3/1, no. 745 with comments from IGLS 3/2, 684.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Representative images Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes Belen

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

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Belen Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Relics

Reliquary – privately owned Other activities with relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Crosses Precious material objects


René Mouterde identified the object as a part of a cross-shaped box which once encapsulated relics. At first he read the inscription as ἐνδόκτε = ἐν(ε)δόχθη, probably a passive form of δοκέω, which he interpreted as a kind of certificate proving the authenticity of relics (e.g. 'considered authentic'). Later, however, he compared this cross with a similar object from Smyrna, housed in the British Museum, which bears a labelled depiction of Stephen the First martyr with nimbus, wearing 'a dalmatic' and holding a censer in his right hand (see: Dalton 1901, 113, no. 559, EXXXXX, and Image 2). Based on this comparison, Mouterde suggested that our inscription also could be a simple label, referring to the First Martyr. The only published drawing is of too poor quality to verify this reading. Dating: the cross from the British Musuem was stylistically dated by Dalton to the 6th-12th c. Our object is probably similarly undatable with any precision.


Edition: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 3/1: Région de l’Amanus, Antioche (BAH 46, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1950), no. 745. Further reading: Dalton, O.M., Catalogue of early Christian Antiquities and Objects from the Christian East in the Department of British and Mediaeval Antiquities and Ethnography of the British Museum (London: Printed by order of the Trustees, 1901), 113, no. 559. Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 3/2: Antioche (suite). Antiochène: nos. 989-1242 (BAH 51, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1953), 684 (addendum).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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