V 20. Cherson. Dedication of Malchos, late VI–VIIth centuries C.E.
H. 17.5, W. 69.0.
The inscription is formed from black tesserae against the background of white tesserae (all quadrangular). Fully preserved.
Place of Origin
Church 23 ('Uvarov basilica'), middle room of the south annex of the church, floor.
1853, excavations of A.S. Uvarov (?).
Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Institution and inventory
State Hermitage, no inventory number.
On the front.
Lapidary. Due to the nature of material, rounded shapes are absent. Alpha with broken and with straight (line 3) crossbar; small omicron.
Late VI–VIIth centuries C.E.
Palaeography, archaeological context.
L1. Latyshev 1896, 26–27, № 13; 1.1. Latyshev 1897, 150; 2. Vinogradov 2007, 265, № 18.
<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc"> <ab> <lb n="1"/><g ref="#stauros"/> Ὑπὲρ εὐχῆς Μάλχο<lb n="2" break="no"/>υ καὶ πάντων τῶν δι<lb n="3" break="no"/>αφερόντων αὐτοῦ <g ref="#stauros"/>. </ab> </div>
For the prayer of Malchos and of all his near and dear.
Upon discovery, the inscription was transported to Pavlovsk, and thence to the Hermitage, the "Hall of Athena."
1. Concerning the formula, see IV.3.B.b.
1-2. The Syrian name Malchos is rarely found outside the Syro-Palestinian region, and in epigraphy is attested only in Italy (IG XIV 2328; ICUR 1861, 2636). Malchos was, without a doubt, the commissioner of the room where the inscription had been found, or at least of its interior decoration. It is unlikely that he would have been the commissioner of the entire interior decoration for the church, which was the city's cathedral. Unfortunately, the function of the structure has not been determined. The presence of a Syrian ktitor's name in the structure next to the main church of Cherson certainly testifies to the important position of Syrians in the religious life of the city (cf. Sorochan 2005, 771).
In line 2, omega is cut in a truncated form, but it is definitely not an omicron, which would have been diamond-shaped. With regard to palaeography, the inscription displays one unique feature: co-existence of alphas with broken and straight crossbars. At the same time, we might write off the single example of a straight crossbar as a slip on the part of the artist rather than as evidence of influence of the Vth-century tradition.
The structure where the inscription was placed had been built at the same time as the naos of the basilica. Although different dates for the Uvarov Basilica are proposed in scholarly literature, it is very unlikely that it would have been erected prior to 582 C.E. (Romanchuk 2000, 64), and therefore the south annex to the church (incidentally, typical for Syria (see Sodini 2006)) also could not date before the end of the VIth century.