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E04280: Greek epitaph for two men, father and son, described as life-long devoted servants of an unnamed martyr. Found at Elousa in the Negev desert (Roman province of Palaestina III). Dated 544/545.

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posted on 2017-11-06, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
+ Στέφ(ανος) μ(ηνὶ) Πα̣ν̣έ(μου) η΄, ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ζ΄, Πα̣τ̣ρ[.....] ι̣θ΄ ἰν̣δ(ικτῶνος) η΄ ἔτου{υ}̣ς υλ̣θ΄

+ ὁ τάφο<ς> πατέρα καὶ ̣π[αῖδ]α συ-
λλαβὼν ἔχει, Στέφανο-
ς ὁ παῖς, Πατρίκιος ὁ πάτηρ
τοὔνομα. διακον̣ήσα̣ντ-
ες ἐπιμελῶς τῷ μαρ̣τύρι
ὅσονπερ ἔζων καὶ δρα̣μόντες ε{ς}-
ἰς θεὸν πτωχοὺς κατελ̣ειπιν
κληρονόμ{μ}ους τῆς οὐσίας +

'+ Stephanos, on the 8th (day of the month) of Panemos, 7th indiction. Patrikios, on the 19th (day) [- - -], 8th indiction. The year 439. + The grave has taken father and son, Stephanos the son, Patrikios the father by name. They served the martyr devotedly while they lived, and when they sped to God, they made heirs of their goods, the poor.'

Text: Kirk & Gignoux 1996, no. 33. Translation: Ph. Gignoux, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060 George, soldier and martyr of Diospolis/Lydda : S00259 Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480 Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions


  • 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)

Elousa Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Consecrating a child, or oneself, to a saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Children


Rectangular limestone stele. H. 0.57 m; W. 0.29 m; Th. 0.06 m. Letter height 0.015-0.025 m. The editor notes that line 1 breaks the left margin and runs down the right margin. First recorded by George Kirk during his and T.J. Colin Baly's survey of Elousa in 1937/1938, carried out on behalf of the Colt Archaeological Expedition to nearby Nessana/'Auja Hafir. First published by Philippe Gignoux in 1996, with the permission of Kirk, after Kirk's transcription kept in the archives of the Israel Antiquities Authority. As far as we are aware, there is no published image of this inscription.


The inscription is the grave marker of a tomb shared by one Patrikios and his son Stephanos. The two are described as devoted servants of a martyr whose name is not specified. As the inscription was found in Elousa, this could be *George (soldier and martyr, S00259), whose cult is attested in the region by the Piacenza Pilgrim (E00507) and a couple of graffiti (E02006). Alternatively, the author of the epitaph could refer to *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), venerated in nearby Oboda (E04160; E04162; E04163; E04164), or even to Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030), whose cult also spread in the Negev desert, as one of the deceased could have been named after this saint. Dating: Line 1 contains a date: 8 Panemos in the 439th year of the era of the province of Arabia/7th indiction. This corresponds to 27 June AD 544 and is the date of death of Stephanos. His father, Patrikios, is said to have died in the 8th indiction year, that is between 1 September 544 and 31 August 545. The dates coincide with the so-called 'plague of Justinian' in the East, and the two men may well have been victims of the disease.


Edition: Kirk, G.E., Gignoux, Ph., "Greek funerary inscriptions and ostraca from Elusa", 'Atiqot 28 (1996), no. 33. Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 805. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1850.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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