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E02820: Bronze medallion with a Greek inscription invoking the help of possibly *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at 'Ein Ya'el near Jerusalem. Probably 6th c. or later.

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posted on 2017-05-18, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Oval bronze medallion with two loops, possibly a pendant worn around the neck. H. 0.022 m; W. 0.014 m; weight 3.83 g. Letter height 0.002 m. Both faces and the edge are inscribed.

Found in the standing pit in a rock-hewn burial cave at 'Ein Ya'el, with 'Byzantine' clay lamps, fragments of pottery, and glass.

First published by Robert Kool in 2012 in the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae (2012). An extended edition by Kool followed the next year in Atiqot. Now kept by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Face A:

cruciform-type monogram: Ἀκρισίου or Ἀρσάκου

'(Property) of Akrisios' or '(Property) of Arsakes.'

In BE (2012), 475 Denis Feissel suggest that the name could be expanded also as Tarsikios, and that there are many more possibilities.

Face B:

engraved cross


ἁγία Μαρ(ία) ἡ μ(ή)τ(ηρ) Ἰ(η)σ(οῦ) β(οή)θ(ε)ι

'Holy Mary, Mother of Jesus, help!'

Denis Feissel is not convinced by this reading (BE (2012), 475). He suggest that the inscription should be read as: + ἁγία Ἀνάλημψις, β(οή)θι/'+ Holy Ascension, help!' and cites similar medallions from the Church of the Ascension.

Text: Kool 2013, 135-136.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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


  • 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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Robert Kool rightly notes that the pendant is of average quality and not a high-status object. The inscription on Face A certainly contains the name of the owner of the pendant. As it is written in the form of a monogram, we cannot be sure if it is Akrisios (a common name in Late Antiquity), Arsakes (a name of Armenian or Persian origin, but also commonly used by the Greeks), or a different name. The invocation on the edge is just 2 mm high. It was made by drilling tiny dots into the object, recognisable only under a microscope. Kool points out that the inscription is partially effaced, and one should treat his reading with caution. Dating: Kool notes that cruciform-type monograms appear under the emperor Justinian. Therefore, the object is likely to date to the 6th or a later century.


Edition: Kool, R., "A Byzantine period pendant from the burial cave at 'En'Ya'al, Jerusalem", Atiqot 76 (2013), 135-137. 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. 1085. Further reading: Abu Raya, R., Weissman, M., "A burial cave from the Roman and Byzantine periods at 'En Ya'al, Jerusalem", Atiqot 76 (2013), 11*-14* (in Hebrew); 217 (English summary). Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2012), 445, 475.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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