University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E04169: Greek inscription on a capital, invoking the help of the God of the martyr *Stephen (certainly the First Martyr, S00030). Found at Shivta (ancient Sobata) in the Negev desert (Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably 6th c.

online resource
posted on 2017-10-18, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
ὦ θεὸς τοῦ ἁγίου Στεφάν[ου]
μάρτυρος σῶσον τὸν δοῦλόν σου

'O God of Saint Stephen the martyr, save your servant!'

I. Negev, no. 70.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements


  • 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)

Sobata Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


The inscription was carved on the abacus of a capital, found in an unknown location in the city of Shivta (ancient Sobata), just possibly in the 'Central Church', as suggested by Avraham Negev. The inscription was found by Harris Colt who surveyed Sobata in 1933-1935 on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Most of the written records of the Colt Expedition, were, however, lost in a fire, and the archive of the mission, which is now in the Department of Antiquities and Museums in Jerusalem, is lacunose. Avraham Negev found a transcription of the present text in the archive, but the file did not provide any detailed description of the find-spot or photograph. Negev published the inscription in 1981, with the permission of the DAM and the BSA.


The inscription is a common invocation on behalf of an unnamed donor, of which we find many in the region. It is very probable that the man offered the column, which bore this capital, to one of the churches in Sobata. The church could well have been dedicated to Stephen, whose cult was popular in the Negev. Dating: There is no reliable way to date the inscription. This kind of invocation is usually placed in the 6th c.


Edition: Negev, A., The Greek Inscriptions from the Negev (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1981), no. 70. Further reading: Figueras, P., "Monks and monasteries in the Negev desert", Liber Annuus 45 (1995), 440. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 31, 1448.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity