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E02866: Greek graffito with an invocation of God on behalf of one Prokopia, wrongly identified as 'the sole testimony of an otherwise unknown martyr of Caesarea'. Found at the governor's palace/praetorium at Caesarea Maritima (Roman province of Palaestina I). Probably late 5th-7th c.

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posted on 2017-05-31, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
In 2002 Joseph Patrich published an essay with an overview of early Christian traditions on the martyrs of Caesarea, in particular Eusebius' Martyrs of Palestine, as seen through the lens of recent archaeological research in the city. Among the unpublished inscriptions, he mentions an invocation of God by one Prokopia, written reportedly in mud on the wall of a cistern beneath a courtyard of the governor's palace. The cistern was supposedly converted to a prison.

Κύριε, βοήθι Προκοπίᾳ/'O Lord, help Prokopia!'

In 2008 the inscription was interpreted by Hagith Sivan as possibly 'the sole testimony of an otherwise unknown martyr of Caesarea.' Sivan concludes that 'she may have died in the oval stadium attached to the palace where, in late 306, an Agapius (S00188) found his death as part of the public spectacles honouring the emperor's birthday' (Sivan 2008, 306; cf. E00376). According to Sivan the graffito was a genuine prayer of the martyr, invoking God's aid soon before her imminent martyrdom.

Walter Ameling rightly dismisses this interpretation, saying that the graffito is a very common request for God's help, and was almost certainly authored by a regular Christian or a pilgrim visiting Caesarea in late antiquity. Ameling adds that Patrich's transcription need not be complete, and we still await the proper first edition of that graffito.


Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti

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 - Places

Place associated with saint's life

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



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. 1178. Further reading: Sivan, H., Palestine in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 306. Patrich, J., "The martyrs of Caesarea. The urban context", Liber Annuus 52 (2002), 332.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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