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E01876: Greek inscription commemorating the construction of a church of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), and a relief carving of Mary with her Child from a pillar of the chancel screen. Found in Church B at Ḥawa near Apamea on the Orontes. Probably 5th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-10-01, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski

[ἐτ]έθι τὼ θεμέλιων τοῦ [εὐκτηρίου (?)]
τῆς ἁγίας Μαρί[ας τῆς Θεο]-
[τό]κου      ἔτους [...ʹ]
[ἰν]δ(ικτιῶνος) θʹ. κτίσ[μα]

1. του Ι Lassus' copy

'The foundations of the [oratory (?)] of the Holy Mary, [the God-Bearer (Theotokos)], were laid in the year [- - -], 9th indiction. The foundation of Symeon.'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1773.


One of the pillars from the chancel screen, found to the east of the church, bears a notable depiction of the enthroned Mary, holding her Child. Dimensions of the pillar: H. 1.21 m; W. 0.39 m; Th. 0.31 m. See the section 'Images'.

For a similar object, possibly a pillar from a chancel screen, see: E01785.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs Images and objects - Representative images Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements


  • 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 Ḥawa

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Ḥawa Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Inscription: Stone lintel from the central doorway in the west facade of 'Church B' at Ḥawa. Broken and lost at both ends. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.39 m; W. 1.38 m. Letter height 0.05 m. Carved figure: The figure has been cut back, presumably in a period of iconoclasm, but is almost certainly that of the Virgin with Child on her lap, seated on a large and elaborate throne. Church B measures c. 24.50 x 15.50 m. It was surveyed by Jean Lassus in the 1930s. First published by Jean Lassus in 1935/1936. Republished by René Mouterde, based on Lassus' edition in 1955.


The inscription commemorates the laying of foundations of our church and names it as dedicated to Mary. The designation of the shrine was apparently present at the lost right-hand end of line 1. As it was preceded by the article τοῦ the editors plausibly restore the word as εὔκτηριον/'oratory', but one must keep in mind that actually any other masculine or neuter name of a shrine is also possible, for example μαρτύριον (for a μαρτύριον/'memorial shrine' dedicated to Mary, see: E01627). Dating: The inscription was originally dated, but, unfortunately, the date is now lost. The indiction year date, preserved in line 4, is not sufficient to date the moment of the foundation. As Mary is here probably named Θεοτόκος/'the God-Bearer', the inscription is likely to postdate the Council of Ephesos 431 which contributed to her veneration under this name. The badly defaced depiction of a saint, almost certainly Mary and Child, from the chancel screen of this church is dated by Lassus to the late 4th/early 5th c. date, but this seems unlikely, if it was carved specifically for the church built by Symeon.


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. 1773. 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?]), 98, no. 55, fig. 108. For the a description of the relief of Virgin with her Child, see: 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?]), 98-99. For a photograph, see: vol. 2: Planches, plate XVII and XVIII. Further reading: Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 11, 15 (with a drawing of the Virgin from Zebed, erroneously ascribed to Ḥawa).

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