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E02799: Greek dedicatory inscription on a pottery plate associated with a bronze lamp-holder (polycandelon), very probably mentioning the monastery of *Theodosios the Coenobiarch (monastic founder, ob. 529, S01325). Found at Jerusalem (Roman province of Palaestina I). Probably 6th-early 7th c.

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posted on 2017-05-13, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
A round lamp-holder (polycandelon) made of bronze. The object consists of two rings. The inner ring encloses a bronze cross, while the space between the rings is fitted with six circles, designed to hold six individual glass lamps. The outer ring has hanging chains. Diameter of the outer ring < 0.30 m. The polycandelon was found together with a plate of red ware (d. 0.30 m), which was apparently an integral part of the whole. The objects were found in a cistern at the ecclesiastical complex on the estate of the Augustine Fathers of the Assumption (St. Peter of Gallicantu). First published by Joseph Germer-Durand in 1909. Later re-published by a number of scholars.

The plate bears a dedicatory inscription running around its edge:

+ ὁ ἅγιος Θεοδώσιος ̣μονῆς ̣Ἰωσὴφ ταπηνός +

The precise meaning of the inscription is not clear. Leah Di Segni suggests two possible translations after earlier editors:

'Saint Theodosios; humble Iospeh of (this) monastery.' (after Germer-Durand)

'Humble Ioseph of the monastery of Saint Theodosios.' (after Vincent & Abel)

Text: CIIP 1/2, no. 1082.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodosios the Coenobiarch, ob. 529 : S01325

Saint Name in Source


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 - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Oil lamps/candles Precious material objects Ex-votos


Although the syntax of the inscription is very poor, the editors agree that the dedication mentions two figures: 'a humble Ioseph', and 'the holy Theodosios'. Of the two, Ioseph is certainly the donor, and was probably a monk in the monastery of Saint Theodosios at Deir Dosi, situated to the southeast of Jerusalem. Its founder, usually called Theodosios the Coenobiarch, is commemorated in Greek Menologia of the middle Byzantine period on the day of his death, 11th January. The commemoration is said to have been celebrated 'in the apostoleion of St. Peter'. The location of that apostoleion is not clear, but Di Segni seems to favour the idea of Germer-Durand who identified it with the church at the find-spot of our lamp-holder. According to Di Segni, Iospeh offered the polycandelon 'in honour of the founder of his monastery.' But, given the poor phrasing of the text, one cannot be sure whether Theodosios (whose name appears in the nominative) is here the recipient of the gift or appears just as the eponymous founder of the convent, and thus a marker of the identity of Iospeh. Germer-Durand suggested that we actually have here two donors who for some reason both contributed to the offering of the lamp-holder: the monastery of Theodosios (as an institution) and the monk Iospeh (as an individual). Di Segni adds the further possibility that the expression ἅγιος Θεοδώσιος refers to a chapel where the lamp-holder was meant to be used or to the feast of the saint when the offering was presumably made (which is rather implausible). Whatever the precise meaning of the inscription, Theodosios is called ὁ ἅγιος/'the holy'. This is not unequivocal evidence that he was already being venerated as a saint at the time the lamp-holder was made; but many monastic founders probably were regarded as such in the communities they founded. Dating: based on the shape of letters and the terminus post quem which is the death of Theodosios the Coenobiarch in 529, Di Segni rightly dates the object to the 6th or early 7th c. Germer-Durand argued for a date in the 5th c. (also based on palaeography), while Thomsen placed the chandelier in the 8th/9th c. because of the poor syntax of the inscription.


Edition: 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. 1082. 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. 235. 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), 486-487, 507-508 and fig. 180. Thomsen, P., Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1922), no. 235. Germer-Durnad, J., "Un polycandilon byzantin découvert à Jérusalem", Échos d'Orient 12 (1909), 75-76.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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