Saint NameElijah, Old Testament prophet : S00217
Saint Name in SourceἨλίας
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before586
Evidence not after590
Activity not before586
Activity not after590
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcDamascus
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Damascus
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsConstruction of cult buildings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
Merchants and artisans
SourceLarge 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.
DiscussionThe 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.
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
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.
Bulletin épigraphique (2001), 515.
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 837.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 1518; 50, 1541.