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E01979: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions with invocations of *George, (soldier and martyr, S00259), and the God of George, on behalf of families of numerous donors. Found at Houad/Tall Huwayd/Larissa, to the southeast of Apamea on the Orontes (central Syria). One of them is dated 568.

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posted on 2016-11-01, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription 1: A large mosaic panel (dimensions not specified) framed by a tabula ansata and prominently displayed in the church: at the east end of the nave, in front of the apse. The inscription is in red letters on a white background. The panel is positioned immediately above a mosaic 'carpet' decorated with dozens of images of animals.

ἔτους θοωʹ, με(νὶ) Ξανθικ(ῷ), ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) αʹ ἐψεφώθι ἱ ἠκλεσ(ία) ταύτ-
τη{ν} ἐν ζοῇ τῶ εἰπεμένου ἐπισκ(όπου) ἡμῶν Ἰουλιανοῦ (καὶ) περιεδευτ(οῦ)
ἑμôν Θωμᾶ (καὶ) πρεσβυτέρου ἱμôν Ζαχχεου (καὶ) διακό(νων) Ἀψωβονιου
(καὶ) Ἰσακίου (καὶ) Ἰωάννου· Κ(ύρι)ε, ἀνάπαυσον Ἀλεξάνδρου (καὶ) Ἰωαννιου ἀδελ-
φοὶ (καὶ) Συμεωνιου (καὶ) Χριστοφόρου· ἅγιε Γεώργι, βοήθι τὸν καρποφορέ-
σαντα αὐτῶν, Παύλου τοῦ (καὶ) Λεμνονίου (καὶ) Ἀλεξάνδρου υἱὸς αὐ<τ>οῦ
(καὶ) Μαρία γαμέτῃ αὐτοῦ· συνκρώτησον, Κ(ύρι)ε, ἀμήν· Κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς Χ(ριστ)έ, βοήθι τὸν
δοῦλόν σου Στέφανον κ(αὶ) Ἰωάνην· Ἰεσ(οῦ) Χ(ριστ)έ, βοήθι τὸν κόσμ(ον)

2. εἰπεμένου = a participle of ἐπιμένειν, i.e 'alwyas in place' Donceel-Voûte, = ἠ<γα>πημένου, 'beloved', Zellmann-Rohrer, = ἐφιεμένου, 'commanding', Di Segni || For a number of readings by Donceel-Voûte, that we consider implausible, see her edition of the mosaic. See also the apparatus in SEG 63, 1507.

'In the year 879, in the month of Xanthikos, 1st indiction, this church was paved with mosaics in the lifetime of our local (?) bishop Ioulianos, and our itinerant priest (periodeutes) Thomas, and our presbyter Zakcheos, and the deacons: Apsobonios, and Isakios, and Ioannes. O Lord, set at rest the brothers Alexandros and Ioannios, and Symeonios, and Christophoros. O Saint George, help the one who brought these offerings, Paulos also called Lemnonios, and Alexandros his son, and Maria, his spouse. O Lord, protect (him)! Amen. O Lord, Jesus Christ, help your servant Stephanos and Ioannes. Jesus Christ, protect the Universe!'

Text: We present the text as published by Michael Zellmann-Rohrer in SEG 63, 1507 (read from a photograph in Mazzoleni 2013, 1597). For earlier editions, see Donceel-Voûte 1988, 139 (editio princeps) with corrected readings by J. Bingen from SEG 40, 1760 and by D. Feissel from BE (1992), 634.

The inscription commemorates the paving of the church. Its date, the year 879 of the Seleucid era and the month of Xanthikos correspond to AD 568. The dating formula mentions bishop Ioulianos, an itinerant priest, a presbyter, and three deacons. It is possible that they assisted the completion of the work. The term used to describe the episcopacy of Ioulianos, εἰπεμένου, is not clear. It seems that the main donor was Paulos Lemnonios (or perhaps Paulos, son of Lemnonios), who together with his wife and son paid for the embellishment of the church or perhaps only of its nave, as a vow for the salvation of four people mentioned immediately after the dating formula. Stephanos and Ioannes whose names occur at the end of the inscription might be lesser contributors or mosaicists who were commissioned with this work.

The inscription contains an invocation of Saint George asked to help specifically the family of Paulos. This and the following inscription strongly suggest that George was the patron saint of our church.

Inscription 2: A rectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata, one of four (second from the west) in the north aisle. Dimensions are not specified.

ὁ θεὸς το(ῦ) ἁγ(ίου) Γεωργίου, βο(ήθει) το(ῦ) Θεοδόρ(ου)
ἅμμα τῶν τέκν<ω>ν αὐτο<ῦ> Σεργίου
(καὶ) τὶν σιμβία αὐτο(ῦ) Λεωντίαν (καὶ) τὸν ἀδε-
λφὸ(ν) αὐτο(ῦ) Γεοργίου ἅμμα τὶ[ν σ]ιμβίαν
αὐτοῦ Να[- - - - - - (καὶ)] Κύρα·
Κύ(ριε), [- - - - - -· ἀμή]ν

For a number of readings by Donceel-Voûte, that we consider implausible, see her edition of the mosaic.

'O God of Saint George, help Theodoros with his children: Sergios and his wife Leontia, and his siblings: Georgios with his wife Na[- - - and] Kyra. O Lord, [- - -]. Amen.'

Text: Donceel-Voûte 1988, 141 with corrected readings by J. Bingen from SEG 40, 1762.

The inscription is an invocation of the God of Saint George on behalf of a certain Theodoros, apparently a contributor who paved the north aisle, and his family: his two sons with their wives, and probably a daughter.

Inscription 3: A framed mosaic band in the south aisle. It separates two mosaics with geometric motifs and birds. Dimensions are not specified.

Κύ(ριε), βο(ήθει) Μάλχχου (καὶ) Λεοντίου (καὶ) Θωμᾶ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ (καὶ) Σεκόνδος· ἀμέν

'O Lord, help Malkchos, and Leontios, and Thomas his son, and Sekondos. Amen'

Text: Donceel-Voûte 1988, 140-141 with corrected readings by J. Bingen from SEG 40, 1761.

The inscription probably records the names of donors who funded the mosaic floors from the south aisle. This time no saint is invoked.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

George, martyr in Nicomedia or Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259

Saint Name in Source

Γεώργιος, Γεώργις

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)


  • 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 Houad

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

Apamea on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Houad Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Women Children Aristocrats Merchants and artisans


The church of Houad/Tall Huwayd was surveyed by Raif Hafez, on behalf of the Syrian Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums after some of its mosaics had been reportedly stolen by dealers of antiquities in 1974. The expedition recorded a number of mosaic floors, unusually richly decorated with images of animals, plants and geometric motifs, that were lifted and taken to the Museum of Damascus. The church was a small, three-aisled basilica (c. 12 m x c. 10 m) with an apse. In the west corner of the north aisle a tomb was found with an intact lid, measuring c. 1.94 m. Inscription 1 is now in the Museum of Ma'arat an-Nu'mān (see the lemma in SEG 63, 1507).


Edition: Donceel-Voûte, P., Les pavements des églises byzantines de Syrie et du Liban. Décor, archéologie et liturgie (Publications d’histoire de l’art et d’archéologie de l’Université catholique de Louvain 69, Louvain-La-Neuve: Département d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, 1988), 138-145. Further reading: Feissel, D., "L'épigraphie des mosaïques d'églises en Syrie et au Liban", Antiquité Tardive 2 (1994), 290. Ḥaḵlîlî, R., Ancient Mosaic Pavements: Themes, Issues, and Trends: Selected Studies (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2009), 128. Mazzoleni, D., "Gli appellativi dei vescovi nella documentazione epigráfica fino alla prima meta del Vil secolo", in: O. Brandt (ed.), Acta XV Congressus internationalis archaeologiae christianae: Toleti, 8-12.9.2008: episcopus, civitas, territorium, vol. 2 (Studi di antichità cristiana 65; Vjesnik za arheologiju i historiju dalmatinsku. Suppl. 87-89, Città del Vaticano: , 2013), 1597 (photograph). Yasin, A.M., Saints and Church Spaces in the Late Antique Mediterranean: Architecture, Cult, and Community (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 231 and . Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1992), 634. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 40, 1760 – 1762; 63, 1507.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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