V 315. Bosporus.Epitaph of Helen and Tamgan, 819 C.E.





Proconnesian marble. 

Dimensions (cm)

H.149.0, Diam.ca. 45.0.

Additional description

Broken at the top, the surface is weathered. 

Place of Origin


Find place


Find context

Main mosque, gallery. 

Find circumstances

1799, survey of P.I. Sumarokov. 

Modern location


Institution and inventory

Feodosia Museum of Antiquities, А–31 Л–311. 


September 2006. 

Epigraphic field


On the front. 


Lapidary. Alpha with slanting crossbar; titla. 

Letterheights (cm)






819 C.E. 

Dating criteria

Explicit date. 


L1. Waxel1803, 11, № 22; 1.1. Clarke1815, 457; 1.2. CIG, IV.9286; 2. Murzakevich1837, 672–673, № 3; 3. Köppen1837, 70–7, 2; 4. Latyshev1896, 82–84, № 75; 5. Vinogradov2008a. 


Ἐνθάδε κατάκη-
τε ἡ δούλη τοῦ θ(εο)ῦ
Ἑλένη μοναχή. Ἐτε-
λιώθη μηνὴ Μαΐου
5ια´, ἡμέρᾳ δ´, ὥρᾳ α´.
Ἐτελειώθη ὁ δοῦλος
τοῦ θ(εο)ῦ Ταμγαν μηνὴ
Μαΐου ιγ´, ἡμέρᾳ παρασ-
κευῇ, ὥρᾳ ς´, ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ
ἔτους ͵ςτκζ´.



EpiDoc (XML)

<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc">
      <lb n="1"/>Ἐνθάδε κατάκη
      <lb n="2" break="no"/>τε ἡ δούλη τοῦ <roleName><expan><abbr>θ</abbr><ex>εο</ex><abbr>ῦ</abbr></expan></roleName>
      <lb n="3"/>Ἑλένη μοναχή.  Ἐτε
      <lb n="4" break="no"/>λιώθη <date>μηνὴ <rs type="month" ref="mai">Μαΐου</rs>
      <lb n="5"/><num value="11">ια</num>, ἡμέρᾳ <num value="4">δ</num>, ὥρᾳ <num value="1">α</num></date>.
      <lb n="6"/>Ἐτελειώθη ὁ δοῦλος
      <lb n="7"/>τοῦ <roleName><expan><abbr>θ</abbr><ex>εο</ex><abbr>ῦ</abbr></expan></roleName> Ταμγαν <date>μηνὴ
      <lb n="8"/><rs type="month" ref="mai">Μαΐου</rs> <num value="13">ιγ</num>, ἡμέρᾳ παρασ<lb n="9" break="no"/>κευῇ, ὥρᾳ <num value="5">ς</num>, ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ
      <lb n="9"/>ἔτους <num value="6327">ςτκζ</num></date>.
Apparatus criticus

7: ΤαγμανWaxel,Clarke,Kirchhof


Here lies a servant of God, Helen, a nun; she died on the 11th of May, Wednesday, in the 1st hour. Died: a servant of God, Tamgan, on the 13th of May, Friday, in the 5th hour, in the year 6327 since Adam.



Among the first to mention the inscription were Leon Waxel in 1797-1798 and P.P. Sumarokov in 1799: they observed it at the entrance of the Theodosian mosque (Sumarokov 1800, 62). The mosque had been dismantled in 1833, and the inscription was taken to a museum (Tunkina 2002, 214, n. 133). For the early history of study and old drawings of the inscription, see Tunkina 2011, 34–35 (figs. 44–48), 99–100.

Two circumstances make us doubt the origin of this monument in Theodosia. Firstly, Waxel unambiguously states that it had come from Anatolia, although such statements should be approached with caution: we may recall E.M. Cousinerie's assertion that he had allegedly seen the famous inscription of Zeno from Cherson in the basement of a mosque in Thessaloniki (see Latyshev 1896, № 7). Secondly, according to Epiphanios the Monk who visited Theodosia some time between 815 and 820 C.E., there was "not a human trace" in the city (Vinogradov 2005с), which observation is fully supported by archaeologists (Petrova 2000, 133). For more details, see Vinogradov 2008.

1–2. On the formula, see Introduction IV.3.F.d.

3. The name Helen is not otherwise attested in the epigraphy of the Northern Black Sea region. It is unclear to which nunnery this Helen belonged.

3–7. On the formula, see Introduction IV.3.F.f.

4–5. May 11 indeed fell on a Wednesday of the year 819 (indicated below in lines 8-9) (on the correspondance of years "since Creation" and "since the Birth of Christ" in the Middle Byzantine period, see Introduction IV. 4. D).

8–9. The inscription is dated by a rare formula "since Adam" (characteristic of the Bosporan tradition of the late VIII - early Xth centuries (see Introduction IV.4.C). This is a very rare dating formula, which elsewhere is not attested before the end of the XIIth century (Stylianou 1960, 98,2 a 2). It is close to V 316 both in formula and in palaeography, with the exception of alpha with slanting crossbar. Since, as has been noted above, such a high-quality tombstone could not have been produced at Theodosia in the 810s, we might ask: could it have originated not in Asia Minor, but in Kerch? We know that columns of the Church of John the Precursor come from an Early Byzantine basilica (see commentary to V 316), and two of them bear epitaphs. A column found in Theodosia, made from Proconnesian marble and of the same diameter, apparently comes from the same basilica, but at the time of the construction of the Church of John the Precursor it must have been built into another structure, or simply left to stand, while during the Ottoman period it could have been transported to Theodosia. For more details, see Vinogradov 2008.


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