V 219. Eski-Kermen. Building inscription of an unknown, 2nd half of XIIIth century C.E.
Tempera on plaster.
H. 9.0, W. 320.0.
Inscribed horizontal band painted on a cornice. The band is marked off by a single red line above and a wide decorative band with zigzag pattern, in red and black paint, below. The right half is damaged.
Place of Origin
Church of "Three horsemen," northern wall, below the three figures of St. George.
1793-1794 or 1807-1826, survey of F.K. Marschall von Bieberstein.
Institution and inventory
In situ, no inventory number.
Above the decorative band with zigzag pattern, within the area marked off by single framing lines, painted in red.
Lapidary, dipinto. Mu with Y-shaped middle, tau with serifs. Ligatures, abbreviation marks.
2nd half of XIIIth century C.E.
Date of painting.
L1. Grigorovich 1874, 16; 2. Latyshev 1896, 47–48, № 43; 2.1. Millet 1900, № 43; 3. Vinogradov 2002, 57.
<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc"> <ab> <lb n="1"/><g ref="#stauros"/> <expan><abbr>Ἐλαθομ</abbr><ex>ήθησαν</ex></expan> <expan><abbr>κ</abbr><ex>αὶ</ex></expan> <expan><abbr>ἀνιστορήθ</abbr><ex>η</ex><abbr>σαν</abbr></expan> ἡ ἅγιοι τοῦ <expan><abbr>Χ</abbr><ex>ριστο</ex><abbr>ῦ</abbr></expan> <expan><abbr>τ</abbr><ex>οῦτοι</ex></expan> ὑπὲρ <expan><abbr>ψυχηκ</abbr><ex>ῆς</ex></expan> <unclear>σο</unclear><supplied reason="lost">τηρ</supplied><unclear>ή</unclear>ας <expan><abbr>κ</abbr><ex>αὶ</ex></expan> ἀφέσεος ἁμαρτ<supplied reason="lost">ιῶν</supplied> <supplied reason="lost">τοῦ δούλου τοῦ <roleName><expan><abbr>θ</abbr><ex>εο</ex><abbr>ῦ</abbr></expan></roleName> τοῦ δεῖνος</supplied><gap reason="lost" extent="unknown" unit="character"/><date><supplied reason="lost">, ἔτους</supplied> <num value="67">ςψ<gap reason="lost" quantity="2" unit="character"/></num></date>. </ab> </div>
Ἐλατομήθη καὶ ἀνιστρωρήθη (sic!) ὁ πάνσεπτος οἶκος Grigorovich; οἱ ἁγία τοῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ ἡμῶν Millet; om. Latyshev
These saints of Christ were carved and painted, for spiri[tual salvation and forgiveness of sins of ...] in the year 67..
The inscription from the "Church of Three Horsemen" is a typical example of a mural dedication. The closest parallels can be found at Inkerman (V 149). This type of dedication seems to have become widely popular in Mountainous Crimea in the XIIIth century, that is, during the period of flourishing at Eski-Kermen. Only Grigorovich read a date on this monument, by 1896 it had already been lost (on the inscription, see also Latyshev 1897, 152; Dombrovsky 1966, 39). Regrettably, its discoverer, Marschall von Bieberstein, also did not record it (inscribed to the right of the large lacuna), although he had copied the rest of the text (St. Petersburg Branch, Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences f. 65, op. 1, d. 44, l. 17).
The traditional explanation for this dedication has been to envision the construction of the church in a section of a limestone rock that had split from a cliff, interpreting the words "carved and painted" as referring to a church of three saints-horsemen: the term ἀνιστωρέω in the sense "to paint" is characteristic of inscriptions dating to the XIII–XVth centuries: see, e.g., Feissel, Philippidis-Braat 1985, № 56, 62, 64 (for abbreviated -θ(η)σαν, see V 151). At the same time, recent observations made by N.E. Gaydukov have shown that in preparation for the mural, the northern wall and the ceiling were recut (which is particularly clear on the post of the northwestern door). Thus, the words "carved and painted" refer not to the original construction of the church, dating to an earlier period (see Vinogradov, Gaydukov, Zheltov 2005, 75), but to its rebuilding associated with the construction of a tomb in its northern part.
In my opinion, the three horsemen were convincingly interpreted as three images of St. George: George the Warrior, George the Dragon Slayer, and George the Saviour (Ovchinnikova 1976, 230–232), who apparently were understood as three saints (we may compare a popular cult of two Theodoroi, e.g., in the nearby Cherkes-Kermen). This is indicated by the word Η ΑΓΙΟΙ “saints”, which is clear both in the transcription of Bertye-Delagard and in the transcription of Marschall von Bieberstein (another transcription was made by Strukov in 1870s (Manuscript Archive, Institute for History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences Р–I, № 339. Л. 109)), but omitted by Latyshev (for some reason, Mogarichev attributes to Latyshev a reading "saint martyrs"). I am inclined to interpret the following tau with overline as an abbreviation of τοῦτοι, the Late Byzantine form of the classical οὗτοι (cf. V 176). The name of the dedicant is not preserved, but the size of the lacuna suggests that it contained not only the standard epithet "servant of God," but also the person's social status, which was, judging by the quality of works, rather high.