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E01880: Greek inscription from a displaced plaque of a chancel screen, with a depiction of a stylite, apparently labelled '*John'. Found at Ḥawa near Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). Probably 6th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-10-01, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The inscription is not easy to read. The copy by Jean Lassus says: ΠΑΠΙΙΩΑΜΕ which was interpreted as ὁ ἅγιος .αμε by Lassus himself and as <ὁ> ἅγι(ος) Ἰωά<ν>ε[ς]/'Saint John' by René Mouterde. Perhaps one should read here <ἀ>πα Ἰωά<ν>ε[ς]/'Saint (Apa) John', given the presence of a depiction of a hermit/stylite just below the inscription.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John (unspecified) : S00043

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Images and objects - Representative images Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs 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 - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image


Plaque from the chancel screen probably of Church B at Ḥawa. H. 1.05 m; W. 0.31 m. Its face is decorated with a carving of a hooded stylite on a platform. The platform is set on top of two columns, and is accessible by a ladder. The inscription is above the head of the stylite. The figure itself has been defaced. For the church and another figured relief, probably from the same chancel screen, see E01876. Found in the 1930s by Jean Lassus, reused in a village well, to the north of Church B.


Jean Lassus, the first editor of this relief, noted that structures similar to that depicted on this relief were found by Howard Butler during his survey of Syrian villages, who identified them as platform of hermits, more comfortable than the columns used by 'real' stylites. Mouterde notes that a number of stylites, named Ioannes/John, are known, and that we cannot therefore identify this figure. He need not be a very local saint as, for example, depictions of both Symeon Stylites the Older and Symeon Stylites the Younger were widely diffused and commonly venerated in the East. For a similar depiction of a stylite (probably Symeon the Elder) on a pillar, also probably from a chancel screen, see: E01785. Dating: the depiction must postdate the death of Symeon Stylites the Elder in 459 who was the founder of the stylite movement. A date in the 6th or 7th c., when this kind of ascetic practice became popular, is probable.


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. 1774. Lassus, J., Inventaire archéologique de la région au nord-est de Hama (Documents d'Études Orientales 4, Damascus: Institut français de Damas, [1935-1936?]), vol. 1: Text, 100, no. 56, fig. 109 and vol. 2: Planches, X, plate XVIII 1. Further reading: Peña, I., Castellana, P., Fernandez, R., Les Stylites syriens (Milan: Centro propaganda e stampa, 1975), 175.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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