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E02206: Greek building inscription for a church (oikos) dedicated to *Elijah (Old Testament prophet, S00217). Found at Jdīyeh, to the north of Bostra and Dionysias (Roman province of Arabia). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2017-01-03, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
̣ΙΧ̣ΥΝ̣Ιβιος καὶ Σέργιος
υἱοὶ Εἰωάννου τον Γορο̣υ
ἐξ ἰδίων καμάτων
ἔκτισαν οἶκον ἅγιον
Ἠλίου τοῦ προφήτου

2. υἱοὶ{ς} Ἰωάννου IGLS Littmann, ΥΙΟΙCΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Magie and Butler's copy || τ<ῶ>ν Γορο[υ] IGLS, το<ῦ> Γορ̣α (?) Littmann, ΓΟΡC stone Magie and Butler's copy || 5. Ἡλίου IGLS, Ἠλίου Littmann

'[- - -] and Sergios, sons of Ioannes, from (the clan?) of Goras (?) founded at their own expense a holy house (oikos) of the Prophet Elijah.'

Text: IGLS 15/2, no. 397; lightly adapted.


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

Arabia Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Bosra Dionysias Jdīyeh

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

Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Dionysias Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Jdīyeh 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

Women Other lay individuals/ people


Stone block. H. 0.415 m; W. 0.69 m; letter height 0.03-0.04 m. The upper left-hand corner is scarcely legible. Seen and copied by David Magie and Howard Butler, members of the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1909. When recorded, the inscription was reused in the voussoir of an arch of a house in the north sector of the village. First published by Enno Littmann in 1921, based on their drawing. The village was revisited by Annie Sartre-Fauriat and Maurcie Sartre in 2008, but they were unable to find the stone, so their edition (2014) is based on that by Littmann.


The inscription commemorates the construction of a church (termed 'holy house'/οἶκος ἅγιος) dedicated to the Prophet Elijah. We follow the text as published by the Sartres, but in several points we offer different readings, based on the drawing by Magie and Butler. In line 1 the name of the first founder is partially lost. The Sartres suggest that it could be a personal name, ending with -βιος, or the term σύμβιος/'wife' (probably of Sergios who occurs at the end of this line). If so, they say, line 2 should begin with the singular form of the noun 'son', and not plural, as seen in the drawing: σύμβιος καὶ Σέργιος ὑιὸ{ι}ς Ἰωάννου/'(His) wife and Sergios, son of Ioannes'. To us, the occurrence of the term 'wife' before the name of her husband seems implausible. In inscriptions wives were extremely rarely mentioned before their spouses, and one could expect that in such a case the personal name of the wife, as apparently the main donor, should have been recorded. In our opinion the sequence of letters in line 2: ΥΙΟΙCΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ should be read as υἱοὶ Εἰωάννου. Lunar Ε could be easily confused with C by the authors of the copy and this interpretation allows us to read the inscription without the need to remove a letter (as suggested by the earlier editors). Furthermore, the spelling of the name Ἰωάννης as Εἰωάννης was not uncommon in late antiquity. Littmann suggested that the last word in line 2 was the name of the founders' grandfather. He also considered other options: whether the word can be read as the name of a clan or tribe: τῶν Γομι (cf. IGLS 13/2, no. 9714) or as the function of abbot: τοῦ ἡγουμ(ένου) but he concluded that such an interpretation would require 'drastic emendations'. The Sartres suggest, and this is the option we follow here, that the word is the name of a clan τῶν Γορου/'those of Goras'. The last letter in this word is partially visible and thus should be underdotted rather than put within square brackets (as rendered by the Sartres). Dating: unfortunately, the inscription lacks a dating formula. It probably dates from the 6th c., like other dated inscriptions from the region.


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. 397. Littmann, E., Magie, D., Stuart, D.R., (eds.), Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-5 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section A: Southern Syria (Leiden: Brill, 1921), 374, no. 783(2).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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