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E01875: Greek inscription on a lintel, invoking God's help to protect a hostel (xeneon) of *Theodore (probably the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480). Found at Umm el-Khalakhil, to the east of Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Probably 5th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-10-01, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[Κ(ύρι)ε φύλα]ξο(ν) τὴν εἴσοδ[ον - - -]
[.......]εν τὸν ξενεῶν[α τοῦ - - -]
[.. ἁγίου] Θεοδώρου

'[O Lord, preserve] the coming in [- - -] the hostel (xeneon) [of - - - Saint] Theodore.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1750.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480

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 Umm el-Khalakhil

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Umm el-Khalakhil Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Hospital and other charitable institutions

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Fragment of a large lintel. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.76 m; W. 0.80 m. The inscription is carved on three bands. Letter height: 0.10 m (line 1); 0.06 m (lines 2-3). First published by Jean Lassus in 1935/1936. Republished by René Mouterde in 1955, based on Lassus' edition.


The inscription begins with an apotropaic (protective) quotation of the eighth verse of Psalm 120(121). Putting this verse over doorways was a frequent practice in early Christian Syria. The rest of the inscription is very fragmentarily preserved, but we can conclude that help and protection are sought for an institution named after Saint Theodore, probably the famous soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita in Helenopontus (northeast Asia Minor), who attracted extensive cult in Late Antiquity. The institution is designated ξενέων (xeneon) which might be an abbreviated form of ξενοδοχεῖον (xenodocheion), a hostel for pilgrims or itinerant clergy (for a similar inscription naming a hostel of *George, see E01928; for another xeneon of Thedore, see: E02132; for general remarks, see Mazzoleni 1999, 307-309). However, ξενέων is sometimes also included on lists of Syriac μητᾶτα (metata, military transit camps) named after saints. For these institutions see: E01834, also E01632, and E00807. The editors claimed that the lintel which bears our inscription had probably originally been set in a wall of a fortress, which supports the latter supposition. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that μητᾶτα could have served as hostels for pilgrims, and it is not unlikely that fortified place were indeed frequented by travelling Christians, as safe stops on their journeys. Thus, the present ξενέων need not have played an exclusively military role. For a hostel (xention or xenidion) in Bsērīn to the south of Ḥamāh/Amathe (central Syria), named after *George, martyr in Diospolis/Lydda, see: E01928.


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. 1707. Lassus, J., Inventaire archéologique de la région au nord-est de Hama, vol. 1: Text (Documents d'Études Orientales 4, Damascus: Institut français de Damas, [1935-1936?]), 67, no. 31, fig. 71. Further reading: Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: St. Sergius between Rome and Iran (Transformation of the classical heritage 28, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 113-114.???? (ref as metaton???) Mazzoleni, D., "Iscrizioni nei luoghi di pellegrinaggio", in: E. Dassmann, J. Engemann (eds.), Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses für christliche Archäologie, Bonn, 22.-28. September 1991, vol. 1, (Studi di antichità cristiana 52, Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum. Ergänzungsband 20,1, Münster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1995), 307-309. Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 26. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 45, 2354; 47,1930.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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