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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 possibly referring to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Burdj Sbinneh/Borg Sbinne near Chalkis and Beroia/Aleppo (north Syria). Probably late antique.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements



IGLS 2, no. 342.

Cult Places


Non Liturgical Activity



A basalt block. Moulded at the top and bottom of all sides, resembling a statue base or an altar. H. c. '3 feet'; W. c. '1.5 foot'; Th. c. '1.5 foot'. The inscription is engraved on one of the faces. H. 0.11 m; W. 0.40 m. Fine lettering. There is no published image.

Found by the American Archaeological Expedition to Syria 1899-1900 at Burdj Sbinneh/Borg Sbinne. First published by William Prentice in 1908, from his own copy. Republished by René Mouterde and Louis Jalabert in 1939.


Prentice believed that the inscription contained the name Μαρία/'Mary', possibly referring to Mary, Mother of Christ, or a homonymous supplicant. He was, however, unsure about the meaning of the sign inserted in the middle of the word, which he printed as 'S' and described as possibly a cross or the Greek letter rho (perhaps a christogram).

Dating: there is no reliable way to date this inscription. If it really refers to the Virgin Mary, it probably dates to the later 5th or the 6th c. as her cult became popular only after the council of Ephesos 431.


Mouterde, R., Jalabert, L., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 2: Chalcidique et Antiochène: nos 257-698 (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), no. 342.

Prentice, W.K. (ed.),
Greek and Latin inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900 3, New York: Century 1908), 251, no. 316.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΜηρίαUncertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01795 -