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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world

Greek inscription labelling a metaton (probably a hostel for pilgrims) of a church dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found in Miletos (Caria, western Asia Minor), probably late antique (5th/8th c.).

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

+ μετᾶτον
τῆς ἁγίας Μα-
̣̣ας τῆς Θεο-
vacat τ[όκου] +

'+ Hostel (of the church) of Mary the Theot[okos] +'

Milet VI/2, no. 962.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Places Named after Saint

Hospital and other charitable institutions


Grey marble block, in the local museum of Miletos (Caria, western Asia Minor). H. 0.24 m; W. 0.35 m; Th. 0.19 m. Letter height 0.03-0.04 m.


The inscription labels a μητᾶτον owned by a Milesian sanctuary of *Mary (Mother of Christ). The Greek word μετᾶτον is a rendering of the Latin metatum / habitaculum which means garrison or hostel. Several Syrian inscriptions attest to metata called after saints, which are usually considered as garrisons, see E01834 and Key Fowden 1999, 4, 113-114. In our case, in demilitarised western Asia Minor, it is, however, more likely that we are dealing with quarters for pilgrims visiting the mentioned sanctuary, for this meaning of metatum see Kramer 2011, 34-37; cf. E01632; E01834.

As Mary is called Θεοτόκος the inscription almost certainly postdates the council of Ephesos 431.


Herrmann, P. (ed.), Milet. Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen und Untersuchungen seit dem Jahre 1899, vol. 6: Die Inschriften von Milet, part 2 (Berlin – New York 1998), no. 962.

Inscriptiones Christianae Graecae database, no. 1720:

Reference works:
L'Année épigraphique (1998), 1360.

Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine
, 304.

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum
48, 1411.

For the meaning of the term metatum, see:
Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: St. Sergius between Rome and Iran (Transformation of the classical heritage 28, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 4, 113-114.

Kramer, J.,
Von der Papyrologie zur Romanistik (Archiv für Papyrusforschung. Beiheft 30, Berlin – New York: De Gruyter, 2011), 34-37.

Record Created By

Pawel Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΜαρίαCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Pawel Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E00807 -