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E01869: Greek inscription on a lintel, invoking the help of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), probably for a household and its owner. Found at I'djāz near Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Probably 5th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-09-27, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[+ παν]αγία Μαρί- α βοήθι Ε[- - -]
[- - -]ος, φιλόκ- τιστες κὲ [- - -]
[- - -]νος, σοφί- ας φο͂ς κ[- - -]
[- - -] οἶκος οὗ- τος εἶνε [- - -]

1. αγια Μαρια βοηθιε(ει) Burton || 2. ]νος Mouterde, ]ος Prentice (from the copy by Littmann) || φιλόκτιστες κὲ Mouterde, φιλόκτιστος (?) Witkowski, φιλόκτηστε, σκε[ Prentice, [Θεο(?)]φιλω κ[αι] της Burton || 4. οικος ουτος ειν Burton

'[+] All-holy Mary, help E[- - -] the founder and [- - -] the light of wisdom [and (?) - - -] this house would be [- - -]!'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1603.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • 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

Apamea on the Orontes I'djāz

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora I'djāz Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Fragment of a lintel, broken and lost at both ends. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.40 m; W. 1.09 m. Decorated in the middle with a low-relief carving of a cross and the letters Α and Ω within a circle. Letter hight 0.06-0.075 m; letters in low-relief. When recorded, it lay outside of the settlement, near a tower. First recorded by Sir Richard Francis Burton (with Charles Tyrwhitt Drake) during his stay in Syria as the British consul in Damascus, and published by him in 1872, with the aid of W.S.W. Vaux. Later seen and copied by Enno Littmann and published from his copy by William Prentice in 1922.


This fragmentary inscription commemorates the construction of a building, probably a house, or possibly the tower near which it was found. The structure is placed under the protection of Mary, invoked as the All-holy one in the first line. As most of the inscription is lost, it is hard to speculate on its full content, but, given the surviving phrasing, one can suppose that it contained a text slightly more elaborate than a usual building inscription. Dating: invocations of Mary are unlikely to predate the council of Ephesos 431, which greatly contributed to the development of her cult.


Edition: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, Cl., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 4: Laodicée, Apamène (BAH 61, Paris: Librairie orientalise Paul Geuthner, 1955), no. 1603. Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Publications of the Princeton University of archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 99, no. 1024 (from a copy by Littmann). Burton, R. Fr., Drake, Ch.F.T., Unexplored Syria: visits to the Libanus, the Tulúl el Safá, the Anti-Libanus, the northern Libanus, and the ʼAláh, vol. 2 (London: Tinsley brothers, 1872), 382, no. 28 and plate II. Further reading: Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 14. Witkowski, S., "Epigraphische Studien zu den griechischen Inschriften Syrien", Mélanges Maspero, vol. 2 (Mémoires publiés par les membres de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire 67, Le Caire: Impr. de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 1934), 197.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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