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E07064: Two clay bread stamps bearing an image and Greek inscription of *Phokas (martyr of Sinope, S00052) and mentioning a charity house (ptocheion) dedicated to him at Cherson (north Black Sea). Found during archaeological excavations at Chersonnesus/Cherson; 6th century.

online resource
posted on 2018-11-06, 00:00 authored by erizos
The stamps, which are different in detail but made to an identical design, depict the saint as a bearded (?) man with halo, wearing a short tunic with broad girdle, and a cloak hanging from one shoulder. The saint is raising his hands in the orant position. He stands on a boat with two oars, and next to him there is an anchor. The scene is surrounded by the following inscription, which is written in standard script, not mirror writing (as one would expect in a stamp):

+ Εὐλογία τοῦ ἁγίου Φωκᾶ τοῦ πτωχίου Χερσονος

'Blessing of Saint Phokas of the poorhouse of Cherson'

Diameter: 9.7, 9.8 cm


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Phokas, martyr of Sinope : S00052

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Lamps, ampullae and tokens


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Northern Black Sea

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Chersonesos in Tauris

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

Chersonesos in Tauris Chersonesos in Tauris Chersonesos Chersonesus Taurica Χερσόνησος Χερσών Chersonesos Cherson

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Production and selling of eulogiai, tokens

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Hospital and other charitable institutions

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Commissioning/producing an image


The pieces were found in 1896 and 1963, in the south-eastern area on Cherson, in front of the ‘Church with Arcosolia.’ They attest to the existence in the city of a charitable establishment (ptocheion) dedicated to the popular martyr of Pontus. This strongly suggests that the other stamps from Cherson (E07065, E07066) belonged to local shrines as well. These stamps preserve the only surviving images of Phokas from Late Antiquity. The saint is accompanied by attributes which identify him as a patron of sailors, which is well attested in his hagiography. His dress denotes him as a layman, possibly a sailor or labourer (he is defined as a gardener in his legend), and indicates that he was not identified as a bishop – unlike in some of his hagiography.


Yashaeva, T., The Legacy of Byzantine Cherson (Sevastopol-Austin, 2011), Cat. Nrs. 371-372.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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