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E02856: Fragments of a labelled wall-painting, probably of *Philemon (martyr of Antinoopolis, Egypt, S00386) and just possibly *Thomas (the Apostle, S00199). Found in Caesarea Maritima (Roman province of Palaestina I), at the 'chapel of St. Paul'. Probably 6th-7th c.

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posted on 2017-05-28, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Three fragments of plaster with painted letters and the upper parts of saints' nimbi. Found in Warehouse III in Area KK 9, loci 39 and 45, baskets 58 and 74. The fragments were recorded by the Joint Expedition to Caesarea and first published in 2000 in drawings, with virtually no transcription, by Leah Di Segni. The text and the following interpretation were suggested by Walter Ameling in the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae in 2012, based on the published drawings.

Fragment A: two letters in red (H. c. 0.10 m), followed by a cross.

[- - -]ΔΗ +

Fragment B: upper part of a nimbus surmounted by a cross. Two letters in red to the right of the nimbus (H. c. 0.04 m). A thicker cross below the letters

ΜΑ[- - -] = [Θω]- μα[ς] (?)/'Thomas (?)'

Fragment C: upper part of a nimbus surmounted by a very small cross. Letters in red (H. c. 0.04 m), to the right of the nimbus.

ΛΗΜ[- - -] = [Φι]- λήμ[ων] (?)/'Philemon (?)'

Text: CIIP 2, no. 1158.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Philēmōn, Apollōnios and companions, martyrs in Antinoopolis, ob. 303-305 : S00386 Thomas, the Apostle : S00199

Image Caption 1

Fragment A. From: Di Segni 2000, 394.

Image Caption 2

Fragment B. From: Di Segni 2000, 394.

Image Caption 3

Fragment C. From: Di Segni 2000, 394.

Image Caption 4

Plan of the site. From: CIIP 2, 78.

Image Caption 5

Another fragment from the same room (?), published by Di Segni with now description (2000, 394).

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics


  • 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

Caesarea Maritima

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

Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image


From the themes of other paintings in the area, we can suppose that the present fragments belonged to depictions of Apostles or martyrs, and that the inscriptions were conventional labels, usually containing saints' names. The nature of the inscription from Fragment A is very unclear and there is little to say about it. Ameling's identification of the name Thomas, possibly the Apostle, on Fragment B is plausible. As for Fragment C, Ameling considers two possibilities. He suggests that the label could refer to Philemon, martyr of Antinoopolis in Egypt in 305 (S00386), and a companion of *Apollonios. Alternatively, he considers the restoration of the name as Clemens, Clementius, Clematius, or (Pant)eleemon (see S00596), as an early Christian novel tells a (fictional) story of the meeting of Clemens, a Roman man of importance, with *Peter the Apostle in Caesarea (see Patrich 2011, 82, note 49). We find the identification of the saint as Philemon much more plausible. The martyr was venerated in the region, as documented by a mosaic dedication from Riḥāb near Bostra and Jerash in Jordan dated 663 (E02653). Also, a 5th/6th c. mosaic from the Rotunda of Thessalonike shows the same Philemon (E00597), and records his feast in the month of March, as do the Coptic and the Roman Martyrologies, while the Synaxarium of Constantinople places it on 14 December. In the Georgian version of the Lectionary of Jerusalem, Philemon's feast appears on 10 May (E03147), and 3 November (E03418) with *Akakios. Interestingly 14 December is recorded in the 'Georgian calendar of Jerusalem' published by Garitte (1958), as also the feast of *Ares, Promos, and Elias (Egyptians martyred in Askalon, S00196), who may have been depicted in another room in our complex (E02853). Garitte notes that in the Sinai manuscript, which is the basis for his edition of the calendar, the feast of Philemon and Apollonios was probably added later to that day's entry, in red letters. The association of two feasts is an important argument for the identification of the saint, shown in our painting, as Philemon. Given the identification of the find-spot as a shrine Paul the Apostle, one can also wonder whether our Philemon was the addressee of one of Pauline letters. This possibility is, however, much less plausible.


Edition: Ameling, W., Cotton, H.M., Eck, W., and others, Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 2: Caesarea and the Middle Coast 1121-2160 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2011), no. 1158. Di Segni, L., "A Chapel of St. Paul at Caesarea Maritima? The Inscriptions", Liber Annuus 50 (2000), 395, no. 9. Further reading: Patrich, J., Studies in the Archaeology and History of Caesarea Maritima: Caput Judaeae, Metropolis Palaestinae (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 82, note 49. For the Georgian calendar of Jerusalem, see Garitte, G. (ed.), Le calendrier palestino-géorgien du Sinaiticus 34 (Xe siècle) (Subsidia hagiographica, 30, Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1958. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 1469-1473 (introduction); 61, 1423.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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