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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 invoking the help of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Mektebeh, to the southeast of Chalkis and Beroia/Aleppo (north Syria). Probably 6th c.

Evidence ID

E01793

Type of Evidence

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

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements

ἁγία Μαρ[ία βο(ήθι) Β]-
άσσου (?) (καὶ) Δαμια-
νοῦ (καὶ) Ἰωάννου (καὶ)
Μηκιμα (καὶ) Ἁσσουβου.

1. βο(ήθι) Mouterde, μν(ήσθητι) Prentice

'Holy Mary, [help] Bassos (?), and Damianos, and Ioannes, and Mekimas, and Hassoubos!'

Text:
IGLS 2, no. 340. Translation: W. Prentice, lightly adapted.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Prayer/supplication/invocation
Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people

Source

A stone panel from a balustrade (a chancel screen?) or a parapet. Dimensions of the panel: H. 0.80 m; W. 1.05 m. The inscription is in low-relief, on carved bands. H. 0.60 m; W. 0.86 m. H. of the first band: 0.11 m.

Found, standing upright, in the ruins of Mektebeh by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900. Copied by William Prentice. First published by Prentice in 1908. Republished by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939.


Discussion

The inscription invokes the help of Mary for four men, probably donors of the chancel screen on which the inscription was displayed (if the purpose of the plaque was correctly identified). For another invocation of Mary from Mektebeh, see: E01792. The character of these inscriptions (fine architectural elements) suggests that a church dedicated to Mary was constructed here.

Prentice commented that the name Μηκιμας/Mekimas was probably a Greek rendering of the Palmyrene-Nabataean name מקימה, which is also spellt מקם in Safaïtic. The last name, Ἁσσουβος, is the Greek transcription of the Arabic name Ḥassūb.


Prentice believed that this inscription should be interpreted together with bi- and trilingual texts, found in this area of Syria (in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic), and noted that the presence of Arabic-speaking people was epigraphically attested in the region already in AD 512. We must remember, however, that no justified conclusions concerning the ethnic identity of the mentioned people can be drawn, based only on the names they bore.

Dating: based on the forms of the letters, Prentice dated the inscription to the 6th c.


Bibliography

Edition:
Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 340.

Prentice, W.K. (ed.),
Greek and Latin inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900 3, New York: Century 1908), 249, no. 314.

Images



Majuscule edition. From: Prentice 1908, 249.
























Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified

24/10/2017

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:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01793 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E01793