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E04524: Scarcely legible Greek inscription on a lintel, with a building inscription probably mentioning *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), and possibly a martyrion. Found at Ramsâniyye, 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.

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posted on 2017-12-23, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The inscription is scarcely legible. Below we present the text in majuscules, as published by Robert Gregg and Dan Urman, and their interpretation and (rather implausible) translation.


Gregg and Urman's interpretation:

Χ(ριστ)ὸ(ς) ̣υ(ἱ)ὸ(ς) θ(εο)ῦ ὀρομόν̣ιον (?) ᾠκοδ-
όμησα [- -] Μαρία +
ὀντου (?)
μ<α>ρτ<υ>ρίου σου

'Christ, Son of God! I built the oromonion (?mountain monastery), Mary, it is (?) your church (martyrion).'

Text: Gregg and Urman 1996, no. 156. Translation: R. Gregg.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

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

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Philippi Paneas Ramsâniyye Quneitra

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

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

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings


The inscription is carved on a stone lintel, probably complete. Dimensions not specified. Found during surveys organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority at Ramsâniyye during surveys organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority after 1967. First published with a photograph by Robert Gregg and Dan Urman in 1996. The precise find-spot is not described.


The editors, Robert Gregg and Dan Urman, based on the presence of carved crosses and peculiar words, identified the text as Christian, and arranged the order of lines, giving a more or less understandable text. They supposed, very plausibly, that the lintel came from a church or a martyr shrine. Gregg and Urman note that line 3 probably contains a corrupted form of the word 'martyrion' (martyr shrine). In line 4 they read the name Maria, which they presumed, referred to Mary, Mother of Christ. They also suggested that the text from line 2 continues in line 4, and there we find the verb ᾠκοδόμησα/'I built'. If so, the inscription would commemorate the construction of a building, possibly termed a martyrion, of Mary (cf. E01627). In addition, Gregg and Urman used a sequence of letters from line 2, ΟΡΟΜΟΝΙΟΝ, to argue that this sanctuary was a 'mountain monastery' (ὀρομόνιον). To support this supposition, they cite a passage from a 9th c. Life of St. Stephen the Younger (PG 100, col. 1113C), where monks living in mountain caves are named ὀρεόμονες ('mountain-monks') and σπηλοδίαιτοι ('cave-dwellers'). The editors were, however, aware of the fact that the above explanations were highly hypothetical, if not entirely implausible. The inscription should probably be interpreted differently. For example, they themselves suggested an alternative meaning of ΟΡΟΜΟΝΙΟΝ. This could be a Greek transcription of a Semitic name normally spelled Ορομανη (Oromane, וֹרמן).


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), no. 156. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1989.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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