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Geography of Journal Authors

Stratum Plus. 2000. № 6

Gh. Mănucu-Adameşteanu, I. Poll (Bucharest, Romania)

A Medallion with St. Cosma and St. Damian Found in Isaccea (Tulcea County, Romania)




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Pages: 285-289


 

Isaccea, the ancient Noviodunum, one of the large Byzantine centres in Dobrogea (Vicina?), is very attractive to the archaeologists. In 1996, in an extra muros settlement, archaeologists found a triangular medallion with the image of two saints (its dimensions: height – 63 mm, length – 53 mm, thickness – 11 mm). The object was found in an area where deposition of the first half of ?I c. was destroyed by a household pit dated by a few stamena by the first half of XIII c. Laboratory studies revealed its chemical and mineralogical composition (ceramic) and the manufacturing method (mould). The medallion depicts two figures of saints with beards, each of them holding a knife in his left hand and a scroll in his right hand. It seems that it is Manus Dei depicted above their heads. There are traces of a bronze holding ring on the top. Though there are no inscriptions, these two characters can be identified as holy doctors Cosma and Damian. Their cult, well-known in Cilicia, started spreading after the synod in Ephesus (431), and these two brothers-doctors became holy doctors – anargyroi. They were frequently depicted on ivory, steatite, precious metals till XII-XIII cc. For Dobrogea, and Romania as a whole, but also for Serbia and Bulgaria, the specimen found in Isaccea is unique. Of special interest are crosses-reliquaries (encolpia) from Kiev Russia, primarily spread in XII-XIII centuries. Of these, attention is caught by the type with the crucified Christ on the obverse, and the Mother of God full-length on the reverse. On the ends of the transverse crossbar on the reverse of medallions, when the inscriptions are readable, there are images of St. Cosma and Damian, with St.-Peter above and St. Basil below. A cross of this type was occasionally found not far from Isaccea, and another one in Cândesti (Moldova). The author doubts that these specimens were connected with the cult of holy anargyroi among the local population. Most likely, they were used just as simple crosses. One can affirm that the medallion with two saints was manufactured in Isaccea in the first half of XIII c.



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