V 327. Phanagoreia. Epitaph (?) of Theodotos, second half of IVth - Vth century C.E.
H. 50.0, W. 27.0, Th. unknown.
On the front - carved Latin cross with T-shaped arms' ends. The bottom left part of the front (?) is cut away.
Place of Origin
1971, excavations of M.M. Kobylina.
Institution and inventory
On both sides of the cross and under.
Lapidary, rectangular letters. Elongated beta, delta with projecting right diagonal, epsilon’s middle stroke does not reach the vertical, theta with shortened crossbar. Abbreviation mark.
Second half of IVth - Vth century C.E.
Palaeography, appearance of the monument.
1.1. Vinogradov, Chkhaidze 2012, 152-153.
<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc"> <ab> <lb n="1"/><roleName><expan><abbr>Κύ</abbr><ex>ριε</ex></expan></roleName>, βο<lb n="2" break="no"/>ήθι <lb n="3"/>Θεο<lb n="4" break="no"/>δότο<lb n="5" break="no"/>ς. </ab> </div>
Lord, help Theodotos.
1–2. In Late Bosporan epigraphy, there are no certain examples of inscriptions with the formula "Lord, save" (see Introduction IV.3.E.a), although we cannot rule out that V 325 might be of that date. In Early Byzantine Cherson, this formula occurs only once, in V 49, which might be Bosporan in origin.
The unusual abbreviation Κύ(ριε) instead of the normal Κ(ύρι)ε sometimes occurs in Christian epigraphy, including this formula, among others (I.Iasos, № 422; Σωτηρίου 1952, № 233.).
2–5. The letter-cutter placed the final sigma over the end of line 4. The nominative of the name can be understood either as a sort of personal signature, or, more likely, as a mix-up of grammatical cases, typical for invocations with this formula (cf., e.g., V 53) — a nominative dependent on βοήθει is attested in a text from Gerdek-Kaya in Phrygia (Haspels 1971, № 24.).
The name Theodotos in unknown in Early Byzantine period both in Bosporus and in rest of the Northern Black Sea region. According to PHI7 Database, it is attested 24 times in Christian epigraphy. It was also popular among Jews (12 examples). Considering the large number of Jews and proselytes in the kingdom of Bosporus (Danshin 1992, 194–211), we cannot rule out the possibility that our Theodotos also belonged to that group. At the same time, we should note that names compound with Θεο- are well known among early Bosporan Christians: Theodoros (V 275, V 291, V 292), Theodora (V 276), Theodosis (V 274).
In design, the stele resembles a certain type of Bosporan tombstones that carry a large cross, with T-shaped arms' ends, carved in the centre. Among close parallels are: V 268, V 273, V 280, V 286, V 300 и V 310. It would seem that the invocative nature of the formula would prevent the analogy with tombstones, however, there are examples of epitaphs using invocative formulae, e.g., in the inscription of 562 C.E. from Amisos on the Black Sea (Studia Pontica 12). So, while we cannot establish the funerary nature of our inscription beyond all reasonable doubt, still it is easier to imagine its use as tombstone rathen than dedication, which typically do not take this form.
On the archaeological and historical context, see Vinogradov, Chkhaidze 2012.