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E04388: Syriac graffito invoking *Symeon (the Elder, stylite of Qal‘at Sim‘ān, S00343). Found at Deir Semaan/Telanissos in north Syria, near Qal‘at Sim‘ān, c. 34 km to the northwest of Beroia/Aleppo. Probably late antique.

online resource
posted on 2017-11-20, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski

'O mār Symeon, the holy one!'

Text: Littmann 1934, no. 49. Translation: E. Littmann, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Symeon the Elder, stylite of Qalat Siman, ob. 459 : S00343

Saint Name in Source

ܡܪܝ ܫܡܥܘܢ

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Beroia Deir Seman Qal'at Sem'an

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

Beroia Thabbora Thabbora Deir Seman Thabbora Thabbora Qal'at Sem'an Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Graffito scratched on a stone on the outside east wall of the church in the so-called 'Southwest Convent' (also termed: 'South Monastery'). Dimensions of the inscribed field: H. 0.21 m; W. c. 0.37 m. Letter height 0.02-0.04 m. Fine lettering. First recorded by the Princeton Archaeological Expedition to Syria and published by Enno Littmann in 1934.


This is one of about a dozen Syriac graffiti recorded in the village (on different buildings) by Butler's expedition. It is very probable that they were made by pilgrims to Qalat Semaan, the famous sanctuary of Symeon the Elder (one of them, Littmann's no. 41, names the hometown of its author as Harran). The other published examples, however, do not invoke saints. Littmann suggests that the present graffito could be used to identify the church, on whose wall it was scratched, as dedicated to Symeon. This is, however, a very tentative hypothesis, and Littmann himself admits that another graffito from the same church invokes the Trinity, another possible patron of the sanctuary. In fact, both texts may be, actually, habitual invocations, which had nothing in common with the dedication of the church.


Edition: Littmann, E., Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-5 and 1909, division IV: Semitic Inscriptions, Section B: Syriac Inscriptions (Leiden: Brill, 1934), no. 49.

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