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E01895: Greek building inscription for a tower (pyrgos), probably recorded as built through the intercession of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), unnamed *Archangels, and unnamed *Apostles. Found at eṭ-Ṭayyibe near Apamea on the Orontes and Ḥamāh/Amathe (central Syria). Probably 5th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-10-05, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[ἐν ὀνόματι Πατρὸς κ(αὶ) Υ]ἱοῦ κ(αὶ) τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος,
[εὐχαῖς τῆς ἁγίας Μαρίας τῆς Θ]εωτόκου κ(αὶ) ἀειπαρθένου
           κ(αὶ) τῶν ἐνδ]ώξον ἀρχανγέλον
           κ(αὶ) τῶν κορυ]φέον ἀπο<στ>όλον
            ἀνέστ]η (?) ὁ πύργος οὗτως

2. εὐχαῖς τῆς ἁγίας Μαρίας Mouterde, ἐν ὀνόματι (…) τῆς ἁγίας Μαρίας Prentice || 3. κ(αὶ) τῶν ἐνδ]ώξον Mouterde || 4. κ(αὶ) τῶν κορυ]φέον Mouterde || 6. \ΥΙΙΕ + Lucas, not recorded by Prentice

'[In the name of Father, and] of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, [through the intercessions of the Holy Mary], the God-Bearer (Theotokos) and forever Virgin, [- - - and of the] glorious Archangels, [- - - and of the leaders (?) of the] Apostles, [- - -] this tower (pyrgos) [was erected].'

Text: IGLS 4, no. 1913. Translation: W. Prentice, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Archangels (unspecified) : S00191 Apostles (unspecified) : S00084 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Μαρία ἀρχάνγελοι ἀπόστολοι

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 Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Apamea on the Orontes eṭ-Ṭayyibe Ḥamāh

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora eṭ-Ṭayyibe Thabbora Thabbora Ḥamāh Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Towns, villages, districts and fortresses

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Saint aiding or preventing the construction of a cult building


Stone lintel, found in situ, over the doorway of a tower. The left-hand part of its face is completely obliterated, presumed to be by fire. H. 0.85 m; preserved length of line 1: 0.93 m; of line 2: 0.75 m; of line 4: 0.63 m. Letter height 0.07-0.08 m. Probably originally decorated with a low-relief carving of a disc at the height of lines 3-4, as suggested by their alignment. Originally published with a drawing in 1905 by Hans Lucas, from a poor squeeze by Max von Oppenheim. Lucas was able to read only line 1 and single words in lines 3 and 4, but his drawing shows more letters (see the enclosed image). Remarkably, he is the only editor that marked the possible existence of line 6. Revisited by the Princeton Expedition to Syria and published in 1922 by William Prentice, after examination of the stone. Reprinted on the basis of the earlier editions, with alternative completions, by René Mouterde in 1955.


The inscription commemorates the construction of the tower on which it was displayed. The only passages that are left of the dedicatory formula name Mary, unspecified Archangels, and the Apostles. Prentice restored lines 1 and 2 as [ἐν ὀνόματι Πατρὸς κ(αὶ) Υ]ἱοῦ κ(αὶ) τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος, [κ(αὶ) τῆς ἁγίας Μαρίας τῆς Θ]εωτόκου κ(αὶ) ἀειπαρθένου.../''[In the name of Father, and] of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, [and of the Holy Mary], the God-Bearer and forever Virgin...', but Mouterde notes that it is unlikely that the name of Mary, of the Apostles, and of Archangels would be included in the 'In the name of...' formula, as they were all figures inferior to the Trinity (but cf. E01809 where the name of Mary apparently did follow that of the Holy Spirit). Therefore, he prefers to insert the expression εὐχαῖς/'through the intercessions' at the beginning of line 2. It was also Mouterde who plausibly suggested completing the epithet of the Archangels in line 3 as ἐνδ]ώξον/'glorious'. His completion of the epithet of the Apostles as κορυ]φέον/literally: 'of the leaders of the choir' is hypothetical, but the term was used in literary sources to address *Peter and *Paul (for example by Cyril of Jerusalem, PG 33, col. 908, and John Chrysostom, PG 48, col. 631). Of course, we cannot say, whether these two Apostles alone were mentioned in our inscription. If correctly restored, the inscription might give us a clue on the perceived hierarchy of heavenly beings. Mary is mentioned first, then the Archangels, and the Apostles take only third place. Remarkably, this is not the only case where the name of Mary is associated with towers and fortifications (cf. E01885; E01886; E01887; E01891; E01898). This interesting practice probably derives from the metaphorical description of Mary as the Tower of David and the Ivory Tower. The expressions were originally used in the Song of Solomon and were known in our region, as evidenced, for example, by an inscription from Nawa (see: IGLS 4, no. 1948).


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. 1913. 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), 23, no. 860. Lucas, H., "Griechische und lateinische Inschriften aus Syrien, Mesopotamien und Kleinasien", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 14 (1905), 33, no. 33 (from a copy by von Oppenheim). Further reading: Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 15.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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