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E02086: Greek inscription commemorating the foundation of a church (oikia) of *Elijah (Old Testament prophet, S00217). Found at Ṣalākhed in the Lajat region, to the southeast of Damascus (southeast Syria/northeast Roman province of Arabia). Dated, probably 586/587 or 589/590.

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posted on 2016-12-07, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
ἐθεμελιόθη <ἡ> οἰκία <το>ῦ ἁγ(ίου) Ἠλίο̣υ
μη(νὸς) Σεπτεμβρίου, χρ(όνων) ἰ(νδικτιῶνος) γ΄ τοῦ ἔτ(ους) υπ̣δ΄
ἐκ σπουδες Σαιου πρ(εσβυτέρου), χηρὶ Γεοργίου αὐτ̣ο[ῦ]

1. ΟΟΙΚΙΑΥΑΓς stone, <ἡ> οἰκία <το>ῦ ἁγ(ίου) Ἠλίο̣υ Sartre and Sartre Fauriat || 2. χρ(όνων) ἰ(νδικτιῶνος) γ΄ τοῦ ἔτ(ους) υπ̣δ΄ Sartre, χρ(όνων ἰνδικτιῶνος) Feissel, Χριστοῦ ἔτ(ους) υπ̣δ΄ Sartre Fauriat

'The church (oikia/house) of Saint Elijah was founded in the month of September, in the time of the 3rd indiction, the year 484, by the zeal of Saios, the presbyter, by the hand of Georgios himself.'

Text: IGLS 15/2, no. 402. Translation: P. Nowakowski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Elijah, Old Testament prophet : S00217

Saint Name in Source


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 Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Damascus Ṣalākhed

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

Damascus Thabbora Thabbora Ṣalākhed Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Merchants and artisans


Large stone lintel, broken and lost at the right-hand end (the inscribed field is, however, almost fully preserved). H. 0.30 m; W. 1.55 m; Th. 0.40 m. Letter height 0.06-0.09 m. At the left-hand end decorated with a carving of a cross below a semi-circle. Seen and photographed by Maurice Sartre. When recorded, it was reused over a doorway in a house in the northeast sector of the village. A preliminary transcription was published by Annie Sartre-Fauriat in 2000. The proper first edition, by Maurice Sartre, followed in 2014. In the meantime the text was commented on by Denis Feissel in Bulletin épigraphique and Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, and by the editors of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum.


The inscription commemorates the construction of a sanctuary, termed oikia (literally house, apparently a church), of Saint Elijah. This is almost certainly the Old Testament Prophet who was highly regarded in monastic milieus in the East and appears in other inscriptions from the Hauran (see, for example: E02116; E02174; E02193; E02194; E02206). The actual meaning of the last phrase: χηρὶ Γεοργίου αὐτο[ῦ]/'by the hand of Georgios himself' is not clear. Perhaps this is the signature of the artisan who built the shrine or carved the lintel. Two dates have been suggested for the inscription. Originally Annie Sartre-Fauriat dated it to the 484th year of the 'era of Christ', an expression she erroneously read in line 2: Χριστοῦ ἔτ(ους) υπδ΄, and which she considered puzzling. She rightly noted that dates in other inscriptions from this region were computed according to the era of the province of Arabia, and its year 484 corresponded to AD 589/590. In his comments Denis Feissel plausibly suggested that the enigmatic expression Χριστοῦ ἔτ(ους) υπδ΄ was rather a misread indictional date, χρ(όνων) ἰ(νδικτιῶνος), followed by a year of the era of the province of Arabia: ἔτ(ους) υπδ΄. His idea was accepted by the Sartres in Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, but Maurice Sartre notes that the indiction year, given in line 2, is most probably γ΄ = 3. The third indiction year, however, did not fall in 589/560, and so Sartre proposes that the era year should be corrected to υπα΄ = 481 = AD 586/587 (but even after this correction the month of September, also mentioned in the dating formula, does not fall in the 3rd indiction year). To sum up: if the readings offered by the Sartres are correct, either the indiction era year was confused by the author of the inscription and the text dates to AD 589/590, or the era year was mistaken and the inscription was carved in AD 586/587.


Edition: Sartre-Fauriat, A., Sartre, M., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 15/2: Le plateau du Trachôn et ses bordures (BAH 204, Beyrouth: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2014), no. 402 Further reading: Sartre-Fauriat, A., "Georges, Serge, Élie et quelques autres saints connus et inédits de la province d'Arabie", in: Fr. Prévot (ed.), Romanité et cité chrétienne. Permances et mutations. Intégration et exclusion du Ier au VIe siècle. Mélanges en l'honneur d'Yvette Duval (Paris: De Boccard, 2000), 304. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2001), 515. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 837. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 1518; 50, 1541.

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