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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


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


Greek lintel inscription with an invocation of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), asked to help an architect. Found at the larger church at Šeiḥ Sleimān/Shekh Slēmân between Beroia/Aleppo and Antioch-on-the-Orontes (north Syria). Probably late 5th-early 7th c.

Evidence ID

E01799

Type of Evidence

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

Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)

+ ἁγί̣α Μαρία Θεωτόκη, βοήθι Σεργίῳ τήκτονει· ̣̣μ̣̣ν

'+ Holy Mary, the God-Bearer (
Theotokos), help the architect Sergios! Amen.'

Text:
IGLS 2, no. 402.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Prayer/supplication/invocation
Construction of cult buildings
Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Merchants and artisans

Source

A stone lintel. Broken into three conjoining fragments. Fragment A: H. 0.595 m; W. 0.89 m. Fragment B: H. 0.595 m; W. 1.38 m. Fragment C: H. 0.595 m; W. 0.97 m. The inscription is on a carved band. Letter height c. 0.07 m. It is possible that the middle section of the lintel was decorated with a monogram, engraved on a disk in low-relief, but it was scarcely legible when recorded.

Found at the north door of the larger church at Šeiḥ Sleimān/Shekh Slēmân, at a portico with two columns. The church is sited on a hill, to the southwest of the town. For a description of the site, see: Butler 1920, 340 and fig. 389.


Discussion

The inscription is a simple invocation of Mary as the God-Bearer, asked to help Sergios, probably the architect, who constructed or renovated the church. Based on this inscription the sanctuary was identified by the surveyors as dedicated to Mary.

Dating: Prentice did not comment on the possible date of this inscription, but as the cult of Mary became popular only after the council of Ephesos 431, it is unlikely to predate the later 5th c. The smaller of the churches at Šeiḥ Sleimān was built or restored in AD 602, as attested by the lintel inscription of its south doorway (see: Prentice 1922, 208, no. 1211 =
IGLS 2, no. 401). A date for our inscription between the later 5th and early 7th c is probable.

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. 402.

Prentice, W.K. (ed.),
Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 209, no. 1212.

Further reading:
For a description of the site, see:
Butler, H.C. (ed.), Syria, Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, division II: Ancient Architecture in Syria, part B: North Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1920), 340, fig. 389.

For photographs from the site, see:
Emma Loosley, “Sheikh Sulaiman C5th church,” Architecture and Asceticism, accessed August 12, 2016, http://architectureandasceticism.exeter.ac.uk/items/show/168

Emma Loosley, “Sheikh Sulaiman C6th church,” Architecture and Asceticism, accessed August 12, 2016, http://architectureandasceticism.exeter.ac.uk/items/show/167

Emma Loosley, “Sheikh Sulaiman church dated 602,” Architecture and Asceticism, accessed August 12, 2016, http://architectureandasceticism.exeter.ac.uk/items/show/166

Reference works:
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 1, 527.

Images



From: Prentice 1922, 209.
























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, E01799 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E01799