Saint NameUnnamed ascetics (or name lost) : S00117
Image Caption 1Photograph. From: Puech 1988, Pl. 9.
Image Caption 2Drawing. From: Puech 1988, Pl. 10.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before492
Evidence not after493
Activity not before492
Activity not after493
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcEdessa
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Edessa
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceFramed panel from a floor-mosaic, decorated with two leaves in the upper left-hand corner. Dimensions not specified. Black and red tesserae.
The inscription emerged, together with three other mosaic panels inscribed in Syriac, in the antiquities market of New York. First published by Émile Puech in 1988, from a photograph, with the permission of a private collector of antiquities.
Based on the use of the Seleucid era and the shape of letters, Puech suggests that the inscription may have come from the territory of Edessa.
DiscussionThe inscription was partly restored, and the reading and interpretation of several passages is, therefore, problematic. Émile Puech, the editor, presents it as commemorating the construction of a building. The structure is apparently named in line 3, where Puech reads ܡܘ[ܫ]ܠܐ which he understands as a transcription of Greek μαυσώλειον and translates as a 'funerary structure'. This is, however, an unparalleled expression, and the line may actually refer to the paving of a building with floor-mosaics, as ܡܽܘܫܶܐ is a Syriac term for 'mosaic'.
The lower parts of the panel, which are especially important to us, give a dating formula. Puech argues that in addition to the regular date expressed in the Seleucid era (804 = AD 492/493), the author of the inscription referred to the 'times of a holy miracle worker, ascetic, and priest'. Tentatively, Puech tries to connect this person (and the present inscription), with a tomb or shrine built in honour of Thaddaeus/Addai of Edessa or his disciple Aggai. This is, however, not convincing, although the inscription, if read correctly, may refer to a local holy man or bishop. Perhaps the inscription continued on a different panel where the name of the holy man was specified.
BibliographyPuech, É., "Une inscription syriaque sur mosaïque", Liber Annuus 38 (1988), 267-270.