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E02938: Limestone reliquary with a Greek inscription recording the presence of relics of *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023) and naming donors, including a marble-mason. Unknown provenance, probably Syria/Phoenicia or Palestine. Probably 6th-7th c.

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posted on 2017-06-06, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Limestone reliquary shaped as a small sarcophagus with a basin for collecting effluents, probably holy oil. Unknown provenance. First published by Leah Di Segni in 2007, in the catalogue of an exhibition at the Bible Land Museum in Jerusalem.

Inscription A (on the front wide face of the chest):

+ θήκη τοῦ ἁγίου Σεργί[ου]·
ὑπὲρ σωτηρίας Ἀνύσωνος
τοῦ φιλοχρίστου τοῦ ποι<ή>σαντος

'+ Sarcophagus (theke) of Saint Sergios. As a vow for the salvation of Anyson, the Christ-loving, who made it.'

Inscription B (to the right of inscription A, on the narrow face):

[μνήσθητι Κ(ύρι)ε (?) Μαρί]ας κ(αὶ) Δανιὴλ
[κ(αὶ) - - - κ(αὶ) Ἀθα]νασίας κ(αὶ) Σεργίου
κ(αὶ) Πέτρου τοῦ μαρμαραρίου ̣κ(αὶ) Ἀναί[α]

3. Ἀναί[α] or Ἀνά̣ν[ου] Di Segni

'[Remember, O Lord,] Maria, and Daniel, [and - - - and] Athanasia, and Sergios, and Petros the marble-mason (marmararios), and Anaias (?)!'

Text: Di Segni 2007, no. 75.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures Inscriptions - Inscribed objects


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Syria with Phoenicia

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

Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Other lay individuals/ people Merchants and artisans

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - oil Making contact relics Reliquary – institutionally owned


Inscription A states that the casket contained relics of Saint Sergios and designates the reliquary itself a θήκη (theke) which is a normal term for a sarcophagus or tomb. For reliquaries one would expect rather the term λάρναξ (see E01440). After the name of the saint, there follow the names of donors and supplicants. Di Segni assumes that the fragmentary Inscription B could have begun with an invocation of God as the Lord or, alternatively, contained just an extended list of donors' names. Which is remarkable, Remarkably the inscription records one Petros, the marble-mason (marmaraios), which can mean that he made the present reliquary or that he was a local entrepreneur, who contributed to the offering. Although the precise provenance of the reliquary is not known, it is very likely that it comes from Syria/Phoenicia or Palestine, where this type of reliquary was very common. Di Segni plausibly dates the object to the 6th or 7th c., based on similar finds.


Edition: Di Segni, L., "", in: J. Goodnick Westenholz (ed.), Three Faces of Monotheism (Jerusalem, 2007), 132-133, no. 75. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 57, 1860.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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