Saint NameJohn the Baptist : S00020
John the Evangelist : S00042
Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Saint Name in SourceἸωάννης
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before450
Evidence not after800
Activity not before450
Activity not after800
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcBosra
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Bosra
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceStone lintel, decorated with two carvings of crosses within circles. H. 0.26 m; W. 1.56 m. Letter height 0.065-0.095 m. Now lost.
First seen and copied in 1901 by René Dussaud and Frédéric Macler during their survey in south Syria, and published by them with a drawing in their report in 1902. When revisited by the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Syria, it was set in an ancient house near Church 3, 'on the north side of the courtyard and east of the entrance.' Enno Littmann commented that the stone was probably in situ. Maurice Sartre and Annie Sartre-Fauriat did not record it during their survey of the region.
DiscussionThe inscription was edited without comments by René Dussaud and Frédéric Macler. Enno Littmann plausibly identified it as an apotropaic (protective) inscription set over a doorway of a private house. Its actual contents are unclear – it might refer to a certain Ioannes – an architect, owner of the house, or Saint John invoked as a protector. The second part mentions either 'justice' (dike) and Christ's help, or the Virgin Mary and Christ. The latter possibility was hypothetically suggested by Littmann, as the actual reading of the passage is not dubious (see the apparatus). The Sartres considered this interpretation as tempting, though requiring significant emendations. Pierre-Louis Gatier suggests that the inscription might mention an ekdikos (a representative of a church).
Dating: The inscription, as most dated texts from the region, probably comes from the 5th or 6th c.
Sartre, M., Sartre-Fauriat, A. (eds.), Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 13/2: Bostra (Supplément) et la plaine de la Nuqrah (BAH 194, Beirut: Institut français du Proche-Orient, 2011), no. 9644.
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), 53, no. 39.
Dussaud, R., Macler, F., "Rapport sur une mission scientifique dans les régions désertiques de la Syrie moyenne", Nouvelles archives des missions scientifiques et littéraires 10 (1902), 688, no. 143.