V 11. Cherson. Building inscription of Isaac I Komnenos, 1059 C.E.






Dimensions (cm)


Additional description

Cornice of crude workmanship, with a dowel hole on the underside; in secondary use; inscription appears on the underside. Fully preserved. 

Place of Origin


Find place

Sevastopol (Chersonesos). 

Find context

City walls, area of the Quarantine Bay, in front of Tower XXI, external face. 

Find circumstances

1895, excavations of K.K. Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich. 

Modern location


Institution and inventory



Non vidi. 

Epigraphic field


On the underside. 


Lapidary. Narrow letters. Alpha with slanting crossbar; the loops of beta are vertically spaced without touching each other; gamma and rho are sometimes embellished with an upward curling tail; theta with extended horizontal; the middle hastae of mu are angled to meet at the centre where they form a short vertical; upsilon is sometimes embellished with a short horizontal across the middle. Ligatures: nu-eta, tau-eta, omicron-upsilon, sigma-tau, pi-rho. 

Letterheights (cm)




Building inscription. 


1059 C.E. 

Dating criteria

Explicit date. 


L1. Latyshev 1895, 83–86; 1.2. Latyshev 1895a; 1.3. Latyshev 1896, 15–19, № 8; 1.3.1. Kulakovsky 1895a, 30. 


+ Ἐγένωντω αἱ πόρται τοῦ πραιτορίου
σιδηραῖ, ἐνεκενίσθησαν καὶ
αἱ λοιπαὶ τοῦ κάστρου ἐπὶ Ἰσακίου
μεγάλου βασιλέ(ως) καὶ αὐτωκράτωρο(ς) Ῥωμέ(ων)
5τοῦ Κομνηνοῦ κ(αὶ) Αἰκατερίνης τῆς εὐσεβεστάτης
Αὐγούστης διὰ Λέοντ(ος) π(ατ)ρικίου καὶ στρατηγοῦ Χερ-
σ̣ῶνο(ς) κ(αὶ) Σουγδ(αίας) τοῦ Ἀλιάτ(ου), μη(νὸς) Ἀπρ(ιλίου) ι´, ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ιβ´, ἔτ(ους) ͵ςφξζ´.



EpiDoc (XML)

<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc">
      <lb n="1"/><g ref="#stauros"/> Ἐγένωντω αἱ 
      πόρται τοῦ πραιτορίου
      <lb n="2"/>σιδηραῖ, ἐνεκενίσθησαν
      <lb n="3"/>αἱ λοιπαὶ τοῦ 
      κάστρου ἐπὶ
      <lb n="4"/>μεγάλου
      <expan><abbr>βασιλέ</abbr><ex>ως</ex></expan> καὶ
      <lb n="5"/>τοῦ Κομνηνοῦ 
      <lb n="6"/><rs type="month" ref="aug">Αὐγούστης</rs>
      καὶ στρατηγοῦ
      <expan><abbr>Χερ<lb n="7" break="no"/><unclear>σ</unclear>ῶνο</abbr><ex>ς</ex></expan>
      <rs type="month" ref="apr"><expan><abbr>Ἀπρ</abbr><ex>ιλίου</ex></expan></rs> <num value="10">ι</num>, 
      <expan><abbr>ἰνδ</abbr><ex>ικτιῶνος</ex></expan> <num value="12">ιβ</num>, 
      <num value="6567">ςφξζ</num></date>.
Apparatus criticus

7: ι´: om. Latyshev, Kulakovsky


The iron gates of the Praetorium were built. Also renovated were the other gates of the fortress, in the reign of Isaac Komnenos, the Great Basileus and Autokrator of the Romans, and of Aikaterine, the most pious Augusta, by Leon Aliates, patrikios and strategos of Cherson and Sougdaia. April 10, in the 12th indiction, in the year 6567.



For the circumstances of discovery, see Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich (1897a, 88–89).

1. The formula with ἐγένετο is widely attested in building inscriptions for the Middle Byzantine period (e.g., MAMA VI 340; Le LBW 991C; see also V 174, 1224–1225 C.E.).

1–2. It is not entirely clear which gates of Chersonesos this inscription refers to. According to the information collected by Arkas, apparently from the locals, there used to be iron-plated gates in the wall facing the coast (Arkas 1848; см. Tunkina 2002, 520, note 216) - quite possibly these are the gates between towers XXVI and XXVII. In that case, we could speculate that the placement of the inscription by the inner wall of the "fortress," that is, facing the city, could have aimed at making it more visible to the residents. The opinion of Sorochan (2005, 1001) that the word πόρται means "a door" rather than "gates" is not well founded (Lampe, s.v.; Sophocles, s.v.), and is particularly unlikely due to the formal and honourific character of the inscription, meant for public display; the rest of his reconstructions are therefore also unconvincing (Sorochan 2005, 997–1002). On the historical context of the inscription, see also Latyshev 1896, 15-19, №8.

2. Regarding the term "renovation," see commentary to V 176. In our case, the term probably also implies a ceremonial inauguration of the fortress gates.

3–6. The present inscription is the only known epigraphic monument of Isaac Komnenos, as well as of his wife. On the elements of titulature, see Rösch 1978, 39–40, 42, and Schreiner 1971a.

6–7. Strategos Leon Aliates (without theme) is known from two seals: one in the collection of Zacos, and another at the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos (N. and V. Seibt 1995, 94, as was kindly pointed to me by N.A. Alekseyenko). It is quite likely that Leon Aliates was a descendant of Anthios Aliates who became prominent in the 970s, during the revolt of Bardas Skleros (Joannes Scylitzes. Synopsis historiarum, Bas. II, 2–3), and a relative of Theodore Aliates who participated in the events of 1071 CE (Scylitzes Continuatus. Continuatio Scylitzae, p. 153). The personal name Aliates occurs twice in Bulgarian inscriptions (Beševliev 1964, № 213 (XIII–XIVth century, Philippopolis) and 254 (after 972 CE, Preslav)), and in the later case is accompanied by the title of strategos. It is possible that Leon Aliates was also a native of Bulgaria. Such a connection with Bulgaria might not be accidental: in 1059 C.E., Isaac Komnenos conducted a military campaign against the Pechenegs in Bulgaria and might have reasonably feared an attack by the Pechenegs' allies (e.g., the Torks) upon Cherson (see Knyazky 2003, 49–51). In addition, it is possible that in the second half of the XIth century, Cherson also suffered from a devastating earthquake (see Knyazky 2003, 49–51).

7. On the correspondence of dates "since the creation" and Anno Domini in the Middle Byzantine period, see Introduction IV.4.D. The 10th of April 1059 C.E. was Saturday of the Bright Week and therefore a day well suited for a ceremonial inauguration of the structure. It is also a day in memory of Zeno the Martyr, who was the patron of emperor Zeno, responsible for the renovation of the Chersonian walls, whose building inscription was located nearby (V 6); it was probably still visible in the XIth century.



(cc) © 2015 Andrey Vinogradov (edition), Irene Polinskaya (translation)
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