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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 commemorating the construction of a martyr shrine (martyrion) dedicated to *George (soldier and martyr, S00259). Found at Mûmsiyye/el-Ghassâniyye near Quneitra and Paneas/Caesarea Philippi, in the Golan Heights, to the north-east of the Sea of Galilee (Roman province of Phoenicia Paralias). Dated: 472, 486/487, or 532.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

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

[ὑπὲρ] σωτηρίας Ἰωάννου καὶ Θωμᾶ υἱ-
[ῶν - - -]μανου ἰδίων αὐτῶν ἔκτισαν τὼ μ-
[αρτύριο]ν τοῦ ἁγίου Γεοργίου· ἐγράφη μην(ὶ)
[Δεκεμβ?]ρίου, χρόνων ἰνδικ(τιῶνος) ι΄, ἔτους δλφ΄ καὶ ε[- -]΄

[2. Σαλα(?)]μάνου Gregg & Urman || 4. καὶ ε[λφ΄] (?) Gregg & Urman, καὶ εʹ Isaac]

'[As a vow for] the salvation of Ioannes and Thomas, sons of [- - -]. (They built?) at their own expense the [martyr shrine (
martyrion)] of Saint George. Written in the month of [December?], in the time of the 11th indiction, in the year 534 and 5 (?) [- - -].'

Text: Gregg & Urman 1996, no. 174, including remarks of other scholars (as presented in the
SEG 46, 1969). Translation: R. Gregg & D. Urman, modified.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)
Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Non Liturgical Activity

Construction of cult buildings
Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


Stone block broken and lost at the left-hand end. Dimensions not specified. The inscription is within a rectangular frame. Fine lettering. Lining between each line of letters.

Found during surveys organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority after 1967 at Mûmsiyye/el-Ghassâniyye, a Circassian village sited c. 5km to the south of Quneitra. First published by Robert Gregg and Dan Urman in 1996. When recorded, the stone was reused in a modern building.


The inscription commemorates the construction of a martyr shrine of Saint George. Although the term designating the sanctuary is almost entirely lost, its restoration is highly plausible, given the extant first and last letter.
There have been three different attempts to identify the date given in line 4 (the year 534). Gregg and Urman very implausibly supposed that it was a year of the era of Antioch, and that the lacuna at the end of line 4 also accommodated the next year (535), as the construction could have taken two consecutive years. If so, the date would correspond to AD 486-487. However, they also considered one of the Pompeian eras used in the region, which allowed them alternatively to convert the date as AD 472. In his comments in the
Bulletin épigraphique, Denis Feissel opted for the Pompeian era (i.e. the dating to AD 472). Benjamin Isaac suggests a third possibility: that the inscription was dated by the era of the nearby city of Caesareia Paneas, and that the last line mentions also the 5th year of the reign of Justinian (= AD 532). This is not impossible, although dating by regnal year became compulsory in official documents and widespread elsewhere only in AD 537. If so, it is very probable that the building was constructed under the influence of, or even by, Ghassanid/Jafnid Arabs, as in the 6th c. this region was the heartland of their settlement.


Gregg, R., Urman, D., Jews, Pagans, and Christians in the Golan Heights: Greek and Other Inscriptions of the Roman and Byzantine Eras (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1996), no. 174.

Further reading:
Isaac, B., "Inscriptions and religious identity on the Golan", in: J.H. Humphrey (ed.), The Roman and Byzantine Near East, vol. 2: Some Recent Archaeological Research (JRA Suppl. 31; Portsmouth, R.I.: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 1999), 183-184.

Urman, D., Dar, S., Hartal, M., Ayalon, E.,
Rafid on the Golan. A Profile of a Late Roman and Byzantine Village (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2006), 288.

Reference works:
Bulletin épigraphique (1997), 648.

Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 771.

Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1911, 1969; 56, 1874.


From: Gregg & Urman 1996, 213.

Record Created By

Paweł Nowakowski

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00259George, soldier and martyr, and CompanionsΓεόργιοςCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Paweł Nowakowski, Cult of Saints, E04416 -