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E04470: Greek inscriptions commemorating the construction of a martyr shrine (martyrion) by Flavios Balbion, probably a former soldier. Found at Jueîzeh, near Quneitra and Paneas/Caesarea Philippi, in the Golan Heights, to the northeast of the Sea of Galilee (Roman province of Phoenicia Paralias). Probably 6th c., once wrongly dated 472/473.

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posted on 18.12.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:
Stone lintel. Dimensions not specified. The inscription is carved below a decorated band, on both sides of a circle in relief. The right-hand end is lightly damaged.

+ Φλ(άβιος) Βαλβίον υἱὸς Κόνονος λαμ̣π(ρότατος)
καὶ τη̣λικ(οῦτος) γινό(μενος) ἐξ ἰδίον ἔκτισεν τὸ μα̣ρτύ(ριον)

1. Φλ(άβιος) Feissel, φλγ΄ = the year 533 of a Pompeian era = AD 471/472 Gregg & Urman

'+ Flavios Balbion, son of Konon, (who was) of clarissimus rank and came to such great age, built (this) martyr shrine (martyrion) at his own expense.'

Inscription 2:
Complete stone lintel. Dimensions not specified. The inscription is carved on both sides of a sunk circle with a cross in relief.

Κ(ύρι)ε, β(οήθ)ι Βα̣λβ-
ίω̣νι υἱὸς Κόνον

'O Lord, help Balbion, son of Konon!'

Text: SEG 46, 1959 (3-4). Translation R. Gregg, D. Urman, adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E04470

Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. From: Gregg & Urman 1996, 200.

Image Caption 2

Inscription 2. From: Gregg & Urman 1996, 199.

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Paneas Caesarea Philippi Jueîzeh Quneitra

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

Paneas Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Caesarea Philippi Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Jueîzeh Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Quneitra Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers

Source

Both inscriptions were recorded at Jueîzeh, a Circassian village sited 10 km to the south of Quneiṭra, during surveys organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority after 1967. They were first published with photographs by Robert Gregg and Dan Urman in 1996. As the inscriptions were found reused in modern buildings, we cannot be sure that they come from the same ancient structure. This is, however, very likely.

Discussion

Inscription 1 refers to the foundation of a martyr shrine (martyrion) to an unspecified saint, probably as an act of thanksgiving of the founder, Flavios Balbion, son of Konon, for his long life. The same Flavios Balbion was probably also the builder of another martyrion, located in nearby Ramsâniyye (E04523), where the structure is termed a 'holy place'/hagios topos. Balbion could have been a former soldier bestowed with the honorific title of clarissimus /lamprotatos (see the comments in E04474). Inscription 2 contains an invocation of God on behalf of Flavios Balbion. Dating: Gregg and Urman interpreted the first signs in Inscription 1 as a date computed according to a Pompeian era (the year 533 = AD 471/472). However, Denis Feissel rightly observed that this was an abbreviated gentile name of the founder, Flavios. Therefore, we cannot precisely date either of the two texts. An early 6th c. date is, however, possible. The building could have been constructed under the influence of, or even by, Ghassanid/Jafnid Arabs, as in the 6th c. this region was the heartland of their settlement.

Bibliography

Edition: Gregg, R., Urman, D., Jews, Pagans, and Christians in the Golan Heights: Greek and Other Inscriptions of the Roman and Byzantine Eras (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1996), nos. 163-164. Further reading: Urman, D., Dar, S., Hartal, M., Ayalon, E., Rafid on the Golan. A Profile of a Late Roman and Byzantine Village (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2006), 288. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1997), 648. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 771. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1959.

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