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E02797: Greek inscription on a fragment of a bread stamp, probably referring to three saints whose name are lost, differently identified by modern editors. Found at Mount Zion in Jerusalem (Roman province of Palaestina I). Probably late antique.

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posted on 2017-05-13, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Fragment from the edge of a moulded bread stamp. The inscription runs in a band around the stamp, in mirror writing (but with reversed nu). Below the inscription there is a row of small holes. The centre of the stamp was probably decorated with a depiction of the three bishops, as suggested by the remnants of folds of a mantle, still visible on the fragment.

The fragment was found in the debris of a church, on the estate of the Augustine Fathers of the Assumption (St. Peter in Gallicantu). First published by Jean Germer-Durand in 1906 with a photograph. Later re-published by a number of editors. We follow the edition by Leah Di Segni in the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae (2012).


[- - -]ΤΩΝΤΡΙΟΝ (sprig) [- - -]

Di Segni's interpretation:

[εὐλογία (?)] τῶν τρι<ῶ>ν [- - -]

'The blessing of the three [- - -].'

or: [εὐλογία τοῦ Κ(υρίο)υ μεθ' ἡμῶν καὶ (?)] τῶν τρι<ῶ>ν [- - -]

'[The blessing of the Lord (is) with us and (?)] the three [- - -].'

Germer-Durand and Thomsen's interpretation:

τῶν τριῶν [ἱεράρχων]

'Of the three [hierarchs].'

Text: CIIP 1/2, no. 1076.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Basil, bishop of Caesarea, ob. 379 : S00780 Gregory the Theologian, of Nazianzos : S00837 John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, ob. 407 : S00779 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Old Testament martyrs : S01198 Arēs, Promos and Ēlias, martyrs i

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Lamps, ampullae and tokens Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Jerusalem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Production and selling of eulogiai, tokens

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Relics

Ampullae, eulogiai, tokens Contact relic - other Making contact relics

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Ampullae, flasks, etc.


The inscription comes from a mould used for stamping bread, given out as eulogia. The editors agree that it almost certainly refers to the three hierarchs: Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom. Di Segni does not comment on the date of the object. Germer-Durand notes that a common feast of the three hierarchs was established in the 11th c. and celebrated on 30th January. There is no evidence of the joint cult of the 'three hierarchs' in Late Antiquity, so if this inscription does refer to them it must be of a middle Byzantine date. Denis Feissel (BE (2012), 475) sees here a reference to the *Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (S01198), the three Hebrew youths in a fiery furnace. We suggest yet another possibility, that the three saints were the three Egyptian martyrs, *Ares, Promos, and Elias (S00196), whose shrine near Gaza was marked on the Mosaic Map of Madaba (E02524), and whose paintings were found in Caesarea Maritima (E02845). Importantly, the Piacenza Pilgrim says that by the time of his visit they were not venerated by their personal names but they were addressed collectively as the three Egyptians (E00504).


Editions: Cotton, H.M., Di Segni, L., Eck, W., Isaac, B., Kushnir-Stein, A., Misgav, H., Price, J.J., Yardeni, A. and others (eds.), Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 1, part 2: Jerusalem, nos. 705-1120 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), no. 1076 (with further bibliography). Bieberstein, K., Bloedhorn, H., Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft (TAVO Beiheft B 100, 1-3; Wiesbaden 1994), vol. 2, 291. Thomsen, P., "Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung. 1. Nachtrag", Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins 64 (1941), no. 253. Vincent, L.H., Abel, F.M. (eds.), Jérusalem: recherches de topographie, d'archéologie et d'histoire, vol. 2: Jérusalem nouvelle, part 3: La Sainte-Sion et les sanctuaires de second ordre (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1922), 509 and Pl. 53,12. Thomsen, P., Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1922), no. 253. Germer-Durnad, J., "Glanes épigraphiques", Échos d'Orient 9 (1906), 132, no. V. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2012), 475.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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