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E04396: Floor-mosaic with a Syriac inscription apparently mentioning an unnamed holy man (a miracle-worker, ascetic and priest) in the dating formula. Provenance unknown, possibly the territory of Edessa (northeast Syria/Osrhoene). Dated 492/493.

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posted on 2017-11-21, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
ܗܢܐ ܒܫܢܬ
ܒܝܪܚ ܢܝܣܢ
ܒܝ̈ܘܡܝ ܩܕܝܫܐ
ܥܒ]ܕܐ ܚܝ̈ܠܐ]
ܘܢܙ]ܝܪܐ ܘܩܫܐ]

'The foundations of this mausoleum were laid (or: 'These floor-mosaics were laid', see the comments) in the year eight hundred and four, in the month of Nisan, in the days of the holy miracle worker, ascetic and priest.'

Text and translation: Puech 1988, 267.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Unnamed ascetics (or name lost) : S00117

Image Caption 1

Photograph. From: Puech 1988, Pl. 9.

Image Caption 2

Drawing. From: Puech 1988, Pl. 10.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Edessa Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



Framed 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.


The 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.


Puech, É., "Une inscription syriaque sur mosaïque", Liber Annuus 38 (1988), 267-270.

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