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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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

Greek building inscription for a village tower, invoking the help of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Tamak, to the east of Apamea on the Orontes and Ḥamāh/Amathe (central Syria). Dated 540/541.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

Text 1:

+ ἔτους βνωʹ, [ἰν]δ(ικτιῶνος) + δʹ.

'In the year 852, + 4th indiction.'

Text 2:

+ ἁγία Μαρία βοήθι Σεργίου.

'+ Holy Mary, help Sergios!'

Text 3:

Ἰάνου (?) λιθοξοῦ τὸ ἔργον. φ(ύλα)ξ(ον) (?) [Κ(ύρι)ε (?)], Λ + Γ (?).

The work of the stone-mason Ioannes (?). [Lord (?)], help! Λ + Γ (= ΧΜΓ?)

Text 4:

Δ + Δ (= Α + Ω?)

IGLS 4, no. 1957.

Places Named after Saint

Towns, villages, districts and fortresses
Gates, bridges and roads

Non Liturgical Activity


Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people
Merchants and artisans


A stone (possibly a lintel), placed above the south doorway of a tower, situated at the gateway of the village of Tamak. There is no published description.

The inscription has a complex layout: see the enclosed image. The text is carved over four fields. Text 1 and Text 2 are divided by an inverted
tabula ansata (with ansae directed upwards and downwards, instead of to the right and to the left of the frame).

First published with a drawing in 1905 by Hans Lucas, from a squeeze by Max von Oppenheim. Republished by René Mouterde in 1955, based on the earlier edition.


The dating formula, which is given in the upper left-hand section of the inscription certainly commemorates the construction of our tower. The year 852 is computed according to the Seleucid era and corresponds to AD 540/541, which is coherent with the 4th indiction year, also mentioned in the text.

The left-hand side of the inscription is also occupied by an invocation of Mary on behalf of a certain Sergios, probably the founder of the tower. It is not the only case when the name of Mary is associated with towers and fortifications (cf. E01885; E01886; E01887; E01891; E01895). This interesting practice probably derives from the metaphorical description of Mary as the Tower of David and the Ivory Tower. The expressions were originally used in the
Song of Solomon and were known in our region, as evidenced, for example, by an inscription from Nawa (see: IGLS 4, no. 1948).

Text 3 names the stone-mason who constructed the tower or just executed our inscription.


Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, Cl., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 4: Laodicée, Apamène (BAH 61, Paris: Librairie orientalise Paul Geuthner, 1955), no. 1957.

Lucas, H., "Griechische und lateinische Inschriften aus Syrien, Mesopotamien und Kleinasien",
Byzantinische Zeitschrift 14 (1905), 29, no. 19 (from a copy by von Oppenheim).

Further reading:
Peña, I., Lieux de pèlerinage en Syrie (Milan: Franciscan Printing Press, 2000), 13.


Drawing. From: Lucas 1905, 29.

Record Created By

Paweł 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:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E01898 -