V 52. Cherson. Invocation of builders, V–VIth centuries C.E.





Porous limestone. 

Dimensions (cm)

H. 80.0, W. 73.0, Th. 14.0.

Additional description

On the front is an image of a forked cross, carved in very low relief. Fully preserved. 

Place of Origin


Find place

Sevastopol (Chersonesos). 

Find context

Curtain wall I, moat, Burial vault 4. 

Find circumstances

1968, excavations of I.A. Antonova. 

Modern location

Sevastopol, Crimea. 

Institution and inventory

National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, 45/36504. 


May 1999, August 2001, September 2002, September 2003, September 2004, September 2005, September 2006, September 2007. 

Epigraphic field


On either side of the top arm of the cross. 


Lapidary. Letters accentuated with serifs. Kappa with elongated vertical; nu with reversed diagonal, pi with extended horizontal. Ligature: tau-omicron. 

Letterheights (cm)




Invocative inscription. 


V–VIth centuries C.E. 

Dating criteria



L1. Yaylenko 1987, 168; 1.1. SEG 39.693; 1.2. Yaylenko 2008, 563-564. 


+ Μ<νή>στιθι Κ(ύρι)ε,
το͂ν δούλον,
το͂ν ποησά̣-
τον τὸ ἔρ-
γο(ν) τὸ εὖ.

1: orig. ΜΗΝΣΤΙΘΙ



1: orig. ΜΗΝΣΤΙΘΙ

EpiDoc (XML)

<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc">
      <div type="textpart" subtype="column">
      <lb n="1"/><g ref="#stauros"/> Μ<choice><corr>νή</corr><sic>ην</sic></choice><hi rend="superscript">σ</hi>τι<hi rend="subscript">θι</hi>
      <lb n="2"/>το͂ν δούλον,
      <lb n="3"/><space quantity="1" unit="line"/>
      <lb n="4"/>Βοήθι.
   <div type="textpart" subtype="column">
      <lb n="1"/>το͂ν ποησ<unclear>ά</unclear><lb n="2" break="no"/>τον τὸ <expan><abbr>ἔρ<lb n="3" break="no"/>γο</abbr><ex>ν</ex></expan> τὸ εὖ.
Apparatus criticus

1: Κ(ύρι)ε<ν>, τ(ῆ) κ(ο)ῖ{ε}τον πο(ι)ῆσηι τὸν δοῦλο[ν] τὸν τ(οῦ) θε(οῦ) Γότον Yaylenko


O Lord, remember the servant who has done a good deed. Help!



The inscription was part of the exhibition 'Byzantine Chersonesos' (Chichurov 1991, 30, № 15).

The reading proposed by the first editor, Yaylenko, contains so many implausibilities that it cannot be considered satisfactory: he reads a non-existent kappa in the first word (see also the sixth letter in the same line), ignores superscript sigma, rejects nu and changes it to epsilon (without indicating this with sigla) in an impossible position (abbreviation); then, in the second word, he adds eta; in the third, he interjects iota and changes eta to epsilon; in the fourth, he adds an ending (again without using sigla); in the eighth, he introduces an abbreviation, which is not indicated on the monument; in the ninth, he reads a non-existent theta without a crossbar and an erroneous abbreviation (see commentary to V 207) and then ignores the last letter; in the last word, he reads epsilon as omicron and restores a non-existent name (firstly, Γότος cannot be a singular form of the plural Γόθοι; secondly, the former is not attested in Greek either as a name or as an ethnic, while the latter occurs once - the normal form is Γότθοι).

1. The letter carver was not of the highest qualification as is clear from both lettershapes and mistakes (e.g., И-shaped nu). It is therefore not surprising that having left out the last two letters of the first word (homophonous with those preceding) he then added them below the writing line. The formula does not occur in Northern Black Sea region (cf. V 331), but is widely attested in Christian epigraphy elsewhere. The form μνήστηθι instead of μνήσθητι is recorded in Ševčenko 1966, 264, № 13–14 (the form μνήστητι — is attested seven more times, according to PHI7 Database).

3. On the dropping of nu in participial forms, see Introduction IV.5.A.

4. Yaylenko did not notice that the letters in the bottom left of the inscription straggle outside the field. This can only be explained as a subsequent addendum: another carver seeing letters θι below the top writing line, added three more letters to form the word Βοήθι (a second hand is betrayed here by a different shape of theta - diamond-shaped). On the formula, see Introduction IV.3.E.a.

The stone was used to cover the entrance to a burial vault. The word ἔργον in Byzantium was used to mean 'building' (LSJ, s.v., III; Lampe, s.v., B.5), but never 'burial vault.' We should therefore assume that a 'good deed' of the inscription either does not refer to the tomb itself, but to the labour involved in its construction, or refers to another structure of the curtain wall I. In Byzantine inscriptions, the word ἔργον is found in compounds with εὐ- (e.g., TAM V, 561; Grégoire 1929, № 336). The burials in the vault did not contain grave goods. Sorochan (2005, 958–960) associates the vault with a hospital of the church of St. Leontius, but he has little ground for that. E.I. Solomonik dated the inscription to the VIIth century.



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