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E05913: A ruined church sited at the village of Ehneş/Gümüşgün, to the north of Zeugma, on the west bank of the Euphrates, is sometimes presented as possibly dedicated to *Sergios (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023). This judgement is based on the modern, early 20th c. dedication of the church, and it is not clear if it can be extrapolated to the ancient phases of the existence of this shrine. A historical Syriac inscription was recorded on the walls of the church, which may indicate that it was built only in the 9th c.

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posted on 2018-07-04, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The site and the church:

The ruins of the church lie in the modern village of Ehneş/Gümüşgün, situated approximately 15 km to the north of Zeugma, and sometimes tentatively identified as ancient Arulis. Three churches have so far been identified in this village, one of them, near the road to Burnus, was first explored by Jean-Baptiste Chabot on 10 May 1897, then by Henri Pognon, during one of his exploratory journeys while French consul in Aleppo and Baghdad, and subsequently by Franz Cumont, during his journey across north Syria in 1907. The surveyors note that the village was then inhabited by an Armenian community, and, specifically Cumont, that the church was dedicated to Saint Sergios. The structure was ruined, but on its walls a long Syriac inscription was preserved, which was identified by Chabot and Pognon as fragments of a 7th or 8th c. chronicle recording the dates of birth and death of Jesus, the Arab invasion, subsequent historical facts from Muslim-Christian relations, natural disasters in the region, etc. The inscription bears no reference to Saint Sergios.

The church appears in a very concise entry on the list of sites surveyed by the Tigris-Euphrates Archaeological Reconnaissance Project conducted in 1989 by Guillermo Algaze, Ray Breuninger, and James Knudstad, on behalf of the Department of Monuments and Museum of the Turkish Republic, the Center for Salvage and Investigation of Historical and Archaeological Finds (the Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara), and of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC (for this entry, see Algaze, Breuninger, & Knudstad 1994, 28, Site 3: sadly, the church was outside the planned survey area, so it was not subject to a detailed exploration). The site was also visited during their surveys by Jörg Wagner and Hansgerd Hellenkemper.

In 1990 the church is mentioned in the report of a survey by T. A. Sinclair, who notes that by the time of his visit the church was called 'Hıdır İlyas'. He speculated that the church was 'built perhaps in the 9th century, it was dedicated to Sergius, but later re-dedicated by Armenians to St. George'. These suppositions are somewhat puzzling. Although a date in the 9th c. is plausible because of the contents of the Syriac inscription, the reports of early travellers say that the Armenian community named the building a chapel of Sergios, not George.

More attention was given to the site by Anthony Comfort and Rifat Ergeç, working on behalf of the Franco-Turkish Mission to Zeugma between 1996 and 1999. The surveyors noticed the presence of spolia, probably from an earlier church or a pagan shrine, reused in the present-day building.

New work on the Syriac inscriptions:

The inscription with the chronicle was revisited and carefully examined by Andrew Palmer in 1990. For his new, now reference, edition of this text, see Palmer 1993. Another Syriac inscription was recorded in the area in 1998, and its publication was commissioned to Alain Desreumaux (see Comfort & Ergeç 2001, 34).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa : S00023

Type of Evidence

Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Syriac

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Mesopotamia Mesopotamia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Zeugma Ehneş

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

Zeugma Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa Ehneş Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



We are grateful to Łukasz Sokołowski (Warsaw University, Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre) for drawing our attention to this site.


Algaze, G., Breuninger, R., Knudstad, J., "The Tigris-Euphrates Archaeological Reconnaissance Project: Final report of the Birecik and Carchemish Dam survey areas", Anatolica 20, 28, Site 3. Aylward, W., "The rescue excavations at Zeugma in 2000", in: W. Aylward (ed.), Excavations at Zeugma, Conducted by Oxford University (Los Altos, California: The Packard Humanities Institute, 2013), 28. See Comfort, A., Ergeç, R., "Following the Euphrates in Antiquity: North-South Routes around Zeugma", Anatolian Studies 51 (2001), 34. Cumont, F., Études syriennes (Paris: A. Picard, 1917), 152. Sinclair, T. A., Eastern Turkey: An Architectural and Archaeological Survey, vol. 4 (London: Pindar, 1990), 176. For the Syriac inscription, see: Palmer, A. "The Messiah and the Mahdi - history presented as the writing on the wall", in: H. Hokwerda, E. R. Smits, M. M. Woesthuis (eds), Polyphonia Byzantina, Studies in honour of Willem J. Aerts (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1993), 45-84. Palmer, A., Brock, S., Hoyland, R., The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles (TTH 15, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1993), 71-74. Pogon, M., Inscriptions sémitiques de la Syrie et de la Mésopotamie et de la région du Mosul (Paris : Imprimerie nationale, 1907), 148-151, no. 84. Chabot, J. B., "Inscriptions de Ἑnéš", Journal Asiatique 16 (1900), 283-288.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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