V 245. Sougdaia. Building inscription of an unknown, XVth century C.E.
Tempera on plaster.
H. 17.0, W. 12.0, Th. 17.0.
Painting on a wall block with a decorated frame. Broken on all sides, except the right; chipped on the top and front.
Place of Origin
Monastery on the Mount Perchem slope.
1993, excavations of I.A. Baranov and V.V. Mayko.
Institution and inventory
Museum "Sudak Fortress", no inventory number.
September 2003, September 2009.
Within the frame.
Dipinto; elongated ornate letters. Ligatures. Style of inscription: a double yellow line is inserted between lines of text.
XVth century C.E.
L1. Vinogradov, Dzhanov 2004, 402–405, № 1.
<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc"> <ab> <lb n="1"/><gap reason="lost" quantity="1" unit="line"/> <lb n="2"/><gap reason="lost" extent="unknown" unit="character"/> <supplied reason="lost">ἀνηγέρθη <note>e.g.</note></supplied> <supplied reason="lost">ἀπ᾿</supplied> <unclear>ἐ</unclear><unclear>δ</unclear>ά<supplied reason="lost">φ</supplied> <lb n="3" break="no"/><supplied reason="lost">ους</supplied> <supplied reason="lost">ὁ ναὸς τοῦ ἁγίου μεγαλομάρτυρος καὶ</supplied> <supplied reason="lost">ἀναρ</supplied>γύρου <lb n="4"/><supplied reason="lost">Παντελεήμονος <note>e.g.</note> διὰ κόπου τοῦ δεινὸς <note>e.g.</note></supplied> <gap reason="lost" extent="unknown" unit="character"/>. </ab> </div>
[...erected from the] foundations, [the church of the saint martyr and anar]gyros [Panteleimon, by the efforts of...]
Building inscriptions on frescoes are typical of the Late Byzantine period in general, and of Crimea (e.g., V 219, V 239) and Sudak in particular (see V 246). Their characteristic use of ruled guiding lines allows us to classify our inscription in this category, especially because multi-line inscription of this type is not common for image-related inscriptions on frescoes. Only a fragment of the inscription has survived, however, its preserved right half shows that the border of the epigraphic field coincided with the right edge of the block, whose right side also bore a fresco, i.e., the text was placed left of some aperture, probably a doorway. It should be noted in this context that the monument was found near the entrance to the church.
The monument shows traces of two lines of text, of which the top one misses the upper half. Lines of text are divided by a double yellow line, and judging by its character, there were letters below line 2 also. The same conclusion is reached when we attempt to restore the text.
Four letters are legible: ΓΥΡȣ, and it is almost certainly the end of a word, coinciding with the end of a line (in painted inscriptions, in contrast to those carved in stone, there is always a greater opportunity for fitting words into lines neatly). Reverse lexicon of Greek language (Kretschmer, Locker 1944, 478) indicates only two possibilities for such an ending: compounds with γῦρος or with ἄργυρος. Out of those, in the context of building inscription and dedication of a church, the most likely one is the epithet ἀνάργυρος «silver-less», that is penniless, usually applied to saints-doctors who treated the ailing for free.
In Byzantine tradition, veneration of penniless saints typically focuses on two at a time (e.g., three pairs of Kosmas and Damianos), and it is often the case that a doctor-saint is given a companion (e.g., St. Kyros (doctor) and and John (warrior)). Only the Great Martyr Panteleimon is venerated as a solitary figure: his companion, presbyter Yermolay, is usually added in prayers and in visual programmes of frescoes, but in cult Panteleimon usually figured on his own, and it was widely attested throughout the empire: in Constantinople alone, we know of 9 churches, but none of them are for a pair of Panteleimon and Yermolay (Janin 1969, 386–388). If the word we are trying to restore was indeed "penniless," then it would have most likely referred to the dedicatee of a church (and monastery).
We cannot entirely exclude the possibility of other restorations, however, e.g., as part of a surname Argyros, attested from the Xth century onwards, but the traces of letters in line 1 (ΕΔΑ), of which bottom parts survive, suggest a possibility (however tentative) of restoring here a terminus technicus ἀπ᾿ ἐδάφους, referring to construction (or renovation) of a church "from the foundation." Since archaeological excavations did not reveal an earlier phase of the church's existence, I am inclined to think that our inscription refers to the construction of a church (and possibly, a monastery) dedicated to the Great Martyr, penniless Panteleimon in the XVth century. The few surviving letters are similar in script to other monumental inscriptions on frescoes in Crimea, especially V 246.
On the archaeological context, see Vinogradov and Dzhanov 2004.