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E03850: Wall painting of *Kosmas and Damianos (brothers, physicians martyrs of Syria, S00385) from a site 2 km north of Wadi Sarga (Upper Egypt), depicting also their three brothers, and fellow martyrs, *Anthimos, Leontios and Euprepios (S01544) on a smaller scale. This group of saints is accompanied by a representation of the Three Children in the Furnace, and a Coptic inscription mentioning the *Sixty Martyrs of Samalut (Middle Egypt) (S01515); datable to the 6th/7th century.

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posted on 2017-09-04, 00:00 authored by gschenke, Bryan
EA73139:

The wall painting shows the physicians Kosmas and Damianos dressed in tunics and overcoat, carrying their medical bags, both with their own captions:

ⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲕⲟⲥⲙⲁ and ⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲇⲁⲙⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ.

Standing between them are their three younger brothers Anthimos, Leontios and Euprepios:

ⲁⲛⲑⲏⲙⲟⲥ ⲗⲉⲟⲛⲧⲓⲟⲥ ⲉⲩⲡⲣⲉⲡⲓⲟⲥ
ⲛⲉⲩⲥⲛⲏⲩ

'Anthimos, Leontios, Euprepios,
their brothers.'

They are depicted on a much smaller scale. Above them is a panel showing the scene of the Three Children in the Furnace. Below that scene follows a Coptic inscription which reads:

KSB 1 321:

ⲡϣⲙⲛⲧϫⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⟨ⲛ⟩ⲙⲁⲣⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲥⲛⲟⲩⲗⲟⲧ
ⲡⲉⲩϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲡⲉ ⲥⲟⲩ ⲙⲛⲧⲥⲛⲟⲟⲩⲥ ⲛⲏⲙϣⲩⲣ
ⲉⲥⲩⲣⲕⲉⲛⲉ ⲕⲟⲩⲓ ⲡⲁⲥⲟⲛ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ ⲕⲟⲩⲓ ⲓⲥ ⲭⲥ

‘The Sixty martyrs of Samalut.
Their (commemoration) day is day 12 of Mecheir (6 February).
Young Esurkene, Pason, (and) young Mena. Jesus Christ’

(Trans. G. Schenke)

Three small busts are depicted to the right of the inscription which may well be the images of Esurkene, Pason and Mena mentioned here.

For an image of the entire composition see:

www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=146894&partId=1 (accessed, 25/07/2019)

History

Evidence ID

E03850

Saint Name

Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, ob. 285/287 : S00385 Sixty martyrs of Samalut (Middle Egypt) : S01515 Anthimos, Leontios and Euprepios (martyrs, brothers/companions of Kosmas and Damianos) : S01544

Saint Name in Source

Κοσμα ⲡϣⲙⲛⲧϫⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⟨ⲛ⟩ⲙⲁⲣⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲥⲛⲟⲩⲗⲟⲧ ⲗⲉⲟⲛⲧⲓⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

699

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

699

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Wadi Sarga Lykopolis

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

Wadi Sarga Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Lykopolis Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Source

The wall painting measures 86 x 144.5 cm and is in the British Museum in London. For further details see: www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=146894&partId=1

Discussion

In the Coptic Martyrdom of Kosmas and Damianos (E03560) it is mentioned that the two of them stood trial in Antioch, together with their three younger brothers Anthimos, Leontios and Euprepios, accompanied by their mother Theodote. Note that the wall-painting is not from Wadi Sarga (as in Papaconstantinou 2001, 225, etc), but from a site 2 km north, called by the excavator ‘the Daniel villa’ (information provided by Elisabeth O'Connell). The name of the site most likely derived from the image of the Three Children in the Furnace (Daniel 3:19–30), but in view of the saints depicted and the inscription, it might well have been a healing sanctuary or martyr shrine dedicated to martyr groups. These groups include protomartyrs, famous healing saints, and local Egyptian martyrs, possibly all connected by their youth. Whether the three names, Esurkene, Pason, and Mena, occuring at the end of the inscription are the names of the donors visualised by the three busts, or whether they are to be seen as three representatives of the 3x20 martyrs of Samalut, remains unclear. If the latter, their explicit youth might indicate a young age for most, if not all the martyrs of Samalut. In this case, their names could have been intended as an invocation. For images of donors with busts, on the other hand, see e.g. E03137. Donors with full images occur in E02367. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=146894&partId=1

Bibliography

Badawy, A., Coptic Art and Archaeology (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1978), 4.46, p.268 (detail). Fluck, C., Helmecke, G., and O'Connell, E.R. (eds.), Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs (London: BMP, 2015), 172–173. Strudwick, N., Masterpieces of Ancient Egypt (London: BMP, 2006), 324–325.

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