V 254. Sougdaia. Epitaph of an unknown, VIIIth century C.E.
H. 63.0, W. 93.0.
Foliate cross and Christogram. The surface is chipped.
Place of Origin
Fortress, Curtain wall XV, Burial vault 2.
1987, excavations of I.A. Baranov.
Institution and inventory
In situ, no inventory number.
September 2003, September 2009.
On the front.
Lapidary. Alpha with pointy loop.
VIIIth century C.E.
L1. Vinogradov, Dzhanov 2004, 414–416, № 8.
<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc"> <ab> <lb n="1"/>Ἀμήν. <expan><abbr>Ἀνάπαυσ</abbr><ex>ο</ex><abbr>ν</abbr></expan>, <supplied reason="lost"><expan><abbr>κ</abbr><ex>ύρι</ex><abbr>ε</abbr></expan></supplied> <lb n="2"/><gap reason="lost" quantity="2" unit="character"/> <seg part="M">ον</seg><gap reason="lost" extent="unknown" unit="character"/> <lb n="3"/><orig><unclear>Μ</unclear></orig><gap reason="illegible" quantity="2" unit="character"/><orig><unclear>Ν</unclear></orig><gap reason="lost" extent="unknown" unit="character"/> </ab> </div>
Amen. Rest, [o Lord]...
This is the only inscription in the region of the Northern Black Sea, which is found on the wall of a burial vault, but outside Bosporus and Cherson. Despite the fragmentary preservation of the painted text, its formula can be easily restored. The use of "amen" not in its typical position at the end, but in the middle or even at the beginning of an inscription is particularly typical of graffiti.
On the formula, see Introduction IV.3.F.b. There is not enough space in the lost part of the inscription to speculate such formula as "servant of God," therefore it was most likely just the name of the deceased - masculine, judging by the ending.
The structure in which the inscription was found is an Early or Middle Byzantine funerary structure typical for the Balkan area of Byzantium and the Black Sea region (cf. Chera, Lungu 1992, pl. 10; Pillinger 1992, pl. 14–15 ). At Sudak, seven tombs of this type are attested. A rectangular burial vault, 2.21m x 3m, is built from blocks of kapsel sandstone fixed with lime mortar; it is oriented north-south and covered with barrel-vault. The entrance on the south side (0.61х0.61m) was approached by a dromos with step, covered in antiquity with stone slabs. An iron hook in the ceiling was used for hanging a lamp. Archaeological investigations have shown that no less than 20 individuals were buried there. The earliest burial, oriented west, is associated with the construction of the burial vault and belonged to a male, 30-40 years of age, whose skull showed a wound caused by a sharp object and sustained during his lifetime. Grave goods included two golden buttons, a silver earring, and an iron pectoral cross. Such explicit characteristics of Christian burial practice do not support an earlier hypothesis about the attribituion of burial vaults located along Curtain wall XIV to Khazar nobility who had adopted Judaism (Baranov 1991, 145).
The monument should be dated on the basis of archaeological context, however, a number of details (Christogram, Early Byzantine formula, lettershapes) ensure the choice of the earliest possible date, in the VIIIth century.