University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E04160: Greek painted inscriptions (dipinti) from a hermit cell in the Ein Avdat ravine near Avdat/Oboda in the central Negev desert (Roman province of Palaestina III), one of which invokes the help of *Theodore (probably the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480). Probably 6th-7th c.

online resource
posted on 2017-10-16, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Graffito 1:

+ ἅγ(ιε)
+ Χ(ριστ)έ, β̣οήθη
+ καὶ ̣Κ̣Λ[- - -]

2. βοήθη(σον) SEG 41, 1542 || 3. Κ̣Α[- - -] SEG 41, 1542

'O Holy Christ, help and [- - -]!'

Graffito 2:

+ ἅγ(ιε) Θεώδορε, βο(ήθει)

βο(ήθησον) SEG 41, 1542

'O Saint Theodore, help! Saint (?).'

Graffito 3:

Κύρ(ιε), βοήθησον
τὸν δοῦλόν σου

'O Lord, help your servant Zacharias!'

Text: SEG 45, 1974.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti


  • 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)

Avdat/Oboda Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


The inscriptions are painted in red. They were found in Cave no. 2 in the Ein Avdat ravine, located to the north of the city of Avdat/Oboda, one of very few hermitages recorded in the Negev desert. Cave no. 2 was certainly a hermit cell (one of four examined in the ravine). Its internal dimensions are: c. 5.30 m x 5.60 m. A bench was carved in the rock-face on the outer wall of the cave, close to the entrance. The inscriptions were first published by Yoram Tsafrir and Ze'ev Meshel in 1977 in a hardly accessible volume. Their existence was communicated to the editors of the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum by Leah Di Segni, and the text was reprinted in the SEG 41, 1542. In 1995 Pau Figueras published a drawing, based on which the editors of the SEG offered an improved edition in the SEG 45, 1974.


Only Graffito 2 contains an invocation of Saint Theodore. Graffito 3 invokes God as the Lord, and Graffito 1, if it was read correctly, probably Christ (although its phrasing is unusual). Tsafrir, one of the first editors, suggested, on the basis of the invocation of Theodore, that the cells of 'Ein 'Avdat could be associated with a monastery (coenobium) in Oboda, where Theodore was venerated. He also argued that the Zacharias, mentioned in our Graffito 3, might be the person buried in the South Church in Oboda, dedicated to Theodore (see E04162). This supposition is, however, implausible. Theodore certainly was venerated in nearby Oboda (E04162; E04163; E04164), further to the south, at 'Aila (E02617), and possibly at Abasan el-Kabir in the northwest Negev (E03170).


Edition: Figueras, P., "Monks and monasteries in the Negev desert", Liber Annuus 45 (1995), 412-413. Meshel, Z., Tsafrir, Y., Seqer archeologi be - 'En Ἀvdat (Midrashat Sede Boquer, 1977), 11-13. Further reading: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 41, 1542; 45, 1974.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager