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E01952: Fragmentary Greek inscription invoking the help of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), for a local community and probably for a presbyter. Originally situated at Liftāya to the west of Ḥimṣ/Emesa (northwest Phoenicia). Probably the 6th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-10-20, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Fragment A:

[- - -] ὁ θ(εὸ)ς (?)
[- - -] ΗΡΡΙ

'O, God (?) [- - -]!'

Fragment B:

[ἁγία (?)] Θεότωκ(ε), βοήθι τοῦ ἡμῶ<ν λ>αο[ῦ (?)].

'[O holy (?)] God-Bearer (Theotokos), help our people (?) !'

Fragment C:

[βο]έθ<ι τ>οῦ θεωφιλεστ(άτου) [Ἰω]άννου π[ρ(εσβυτέρου)].

'Help the most dear-to-God presbyter Ioannes!'

Text: IGLS 5, no. 2649.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements 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

Ḥimṣ/Emesa Liftāya

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

Ḥimṣ/Emesa Thabbora Thabbora Liftāya Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


The inscriptions are carved on three faces of two squarish capitals, reportedly brought from Liftāya to Ḥadīde where they were reused in the gateway of a roadside inn (khan). Inscription A is on the left side of the left-hand capital. Inscriptions B is on the front face of the left-hand capital and C on the right-hand capital. For their layout, see the enclosed image. Letter height 0.06 m. There is no published description. First recorded by René Dussaud and described (with an imperfect transcription) in 1897. Revisited and copied by René Mouterde, and published by him in 1959.


Both published copies suggest that the text of these inscriptions can be corrupted. Fragment B certainly comes from an invocation of Mary but it is not clear whether the saint was really addressed on behalf of the local community (λαός) as conjectured by Mouterde. Fragment C contains an invocation with a request for help for a presbyter Ioannes but we cannot say whether it was also addressed to the saint. It is not unlikely that the church, where the capitals were originally situated, was dedicated to Mary, though the inscriptions do not explicitly say so. Dating: the forms of letters and the formulas used in these invocations suggest a considerably late date, probably the 6th or 7th c.


Edition: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2649 (with a drawing). Dussaud, R., "Voyage en Syrie", Revue archéologique (1897), 357.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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