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Adam Łajtar

Archangel Raphael in inscriptions

from the Upper Church at Banganarti*

Built in the second half of the 11th century and languages of the Banganarti wall inscriptions,
used probably until the 15th, the Upper Church see Łajtar 2010). There are also two inscrip-
at Banganarti is exceptional in many respects. tions in Arabic (one written with Arabic script
One of these is the enormous quantity of and one with Greek letters [cf. Łajtar 2008c: 398
inscriptions found on its walls. The documen- with drawing on p. 399]), as well as one in Cop-
tation work carried out by the present author tic, and one in Provencal (cf. Łajtar, Płócien­
between 2002 and 2006 revealed as many as 969 nik 2011). From the formal point of view, the
items.1 The large majority of the inscriptions inscriptions left by visitors can be divided into
are visitors’ graffiti scratched with a sharp tool six categories:
in the plaster covering the walls of the church 1) names of visitors standing alone;
(for a preliminary presentation of the material, 2) inscriptions composed according to the pat-
see Łajtar 2003c; 2008b). Only a few inscrip- tern: “I + name of a visitor”;
tions were executed in paint. The last category 3) inscriptions composed according to the pat-
essentially includes texts connected with the tern: “I, NN, wrote this”;2
decoration of the church (painting dedications, 4) holy names standing alone or in groups;
legends to paintings, prayers), but also some inscriptions of this category may actually be
visitors’ mementos. The inscriptions occur considered to be simple invocations;
mainly on undecorated parts of walls (pillars 5) acclamations, invocations and prayers;
at the entrance to the chapels, central supports 6) varia.
together with blockages abutting them, undec- One should observe that inscriptions fre-
orated walls in the chapels of the western rοw), quently combine elements belonging to differ-
but they sometimes also cross over the border ent categories. Thus, invocations and prayers
of painted decoration. The inscriptions are writ- (categories 4 and 5) frequently contain informa-
ten either in Greek or in Nubian or in a par- tion about the writer or the commissioner of the
ticular mixture of these two languages (for the inscription (categories 1, 2, and 3).
Visitors’ inscriptions in the Upper Church at
Banganarti can be dated to the last period of
* I would like to thank Tomasz Płóciennik and Grzegorz church use. The oldest might have come into
Ochała for reading through an earlier version of this paper
existence in the first half of the 13th century, while
and commenting upon it.
 It should be observed that the number of inscriptions the majority can be dated to the last quarter
that came into existence as a result of visits paid to the of the 13th and the first half of the 14th centuries.
Upper Church at Banganarti must originally have been The most solid chronological repair is yielded
much higher than the 969 items recorded by me. Numerous
inscriptions were lost as a result of the destruction of the
architectonic substance following the abandonment of the 2
 One has to observe that the statement “I wrote” is
church. Some inscriptions ceased to exist already during almost regularly expressed with γράψον. This should be
the use of the church as they were covered by new layers considered the first person singular of aorist active with
of whitewash. the historical ending and the augment omitted.
262 Adam Łajtar

by the mention of King Siti, who most probably Makuria at the beginning of the 11th century. The
should be identified with his namesake ruling name of the Archangel standing alone should
Dotawo (= Makuria) in the 1330s (for inscrip- probably be regarded as a kind of invocation of
tions in the Upper Church in Banganarti men- the patron of the church.
tioning King Siti, see Łajtar 2003c: 149; 2008b: The name of Raphael can sometimes be
328-329; generally for Siti, see Ochała 2011). repeated several times (up to three). I have
The inscriptions from the Upper Church already published one such inscription, situated
at Banganarti contain numerous references to on the southwestern face of the southeastern
Archangel Raphael. He is the most frequently support and containing the name of Raphael
mentioned holy figure, outrivalling by far God repeated three times (Łajtar 2003b: 157, no. 21).4
the Father, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Here I present another one (no. 2), found on the
even Archangel Michael, who played a promi- western wall of room 11, in which the name
nent role in the popular piety of Christian Nubi- of Raphael is repeated two times. The name of
ans. The popularity of Raphael at Banganarti Raphael can also be coupled with the names
inclines one to think that the Upper Church was of other archangels to form a list (on Nubian
dedicated to him, as is the case most probably lists of archangels, see Łajtar 2009: 115-119).
with the Lower Church. Bogdan Żurawski sup- One such list, written on the eastern wall of
poses that Raphael was venerated in Banganarti the corridor leading from room (chapel) 6 to
as a healer (2012: passim, especially 365-385), an elongated room behind it and further to the
a supposition that seems to find corroboration prothesis of the church (room 26), has the names
in the epigraphic material. of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three arch-
The name of Raphael can be recorded in angels most popular in Christian Nubia (Łajtar
one of four ways in the Banganarti inscrip- 2003c: 157, no. 22, fig. 20 on pl. XIII).5 The same
tions: (1) in scriptio plena; (2) as an abbreviation, names occurred most probably in an inscription
either through suspension or contraction; (3) as on the northern face of the entrance to room 5
a numerical cryptogram ⲭⲙ = 640 (ⲣ = 100 + ⲁ (here no. 3), however, the name of Michael that
= 1 + ⲫ = 500 + ⲁ = 1 + ⲏ = 8 + ⲗ = 30) (see nos. probably stood in line 1 was almost entirely lost.
6, 8, 9, 20, 21); (4) as a monogram (see no. 4). An interesting element of this inscription is that
The first of these ways is the most common, it shows a reversed order of the archangels in
although numerical cryptograms are also not the second and the third positions: Raphael –
rare. Interestingly, the name of Raphael writ- Gabriel against Gabriel – Raphael in the textus
ten in full is sometimes provided with iconic receptus of the Nubian lists of archangels. Note
elements alluding to his figure. They include also that only the name of Raphael is preceded
a pair of eyes placed within the round element by a cross. It is possible that we are dealing with
of ⲫ, each on one side of the vertical hasta, and an iconic representation of the triad of the most
a wing or a pair of wings attached to the same important archangels with Raphael in the mid-
letter (see nos. 1 and 11). dle, Michael on his right and Gabriel on his left.
References to Archangel Raphael may assume This particular arrangement is undoubtedly
various forms. The simplest is the name of the connected with the central position Archangel
Archangel standing alone, optionally preceded Raphael had in the church at Banganarti.
by the cross.3 There are some 20 inscriptions Several inscriptions have the name of Raphael
reading like that, of which I present here the connected with information about particular vis-
one located in the corridor leading from room itors. The order of the two elements is fiable. The
(chapel) 6 to an alongated room behind it (no. 1). Archangel’s name may both open the inscrip-
One wonders if some of these inscriptions do tion and close it, as in the text on the southeast-
not refer to particulars with the name Raph- ern face of the northeastern support (no. 4). Also
ael rather than to the Archangel. The answer is the form of the visitors’ self-presentations is not
probably negative. The name of Raphael was
very rare in the onomastics of Christian Nubia,
actually being attested only once for a  king of
 Note that the position of the inscription is incorrectly
indicated in the cited article.
 A similar list is found on the eastern wall of the
 One should observe that there are only two inscrip- southern pastophorium of the Lower Church at Banganarti
tions with the name of Archangel Michael standing alone. (unpublished; my reading from the wall).
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 263

stable; both proper names standing alone and son (Tobit 12.15): ἐγὼ εἰμὶ Ῥαφαήλ, εἷς τῶν ἑπτὰ
more elaborate statements may occur. The name ἀγγέλων, οἳ παρεστήκασιν καὶ εἰσπορεύονται ἐνώ-
of the Archangel attached to the visitor’s pre- πιον τῆς δόξης κυρίου, “I am Raphael, one of the
sentation should most probably be interpreted seven angels who stand ready and enter before
as an invocation, similarly as the same name the glory of the Lord”.7 It is impossible to state
standing alone. when and where this original self-presentation
There are three inscriptions with the reading: of Raphael from the Book of Tobit was remod-
ἐγὼ Ῥαφαήλ, “I, Raphael”. Here I present the eled to give the statement occurring in the Ban-
one situated on the western side of the entrance ganarti inscriptions. One can only observe that
to room 11 (no. 5). The formula used in these the statement under consideration has been
inscriptions is typical of visitors’ mementos, attested only in Banganarti so far.
which suggests that Raphael is the name of The Old Testament Book of Tobit offered
a  visitor rather than the Archangel; however, the Banganarti inscriptions not only the textual
this is hardly probable for the reasons given model for the self-presentation of Raphael dis-
above. It must be Archangel Raphael who is cussed in the previous paragraph, but was also
speaking here in the first person singular. It the source for motifs illustrating the Archangel’s
is possible that we are dealing with a longer prerogatives and spheres of activity. Thus, six
self-presentation of the Archangel abbreviated to inscriptions have an invocation of God reading:
only its initial words. Such is the situation with ὁ τὸν Ῥαφαὴλ εἰς Μηδίαν ἀπέστειλεν (= ἀποστεί-
the phrase: ἐγὼ εἰμὶ Ῥαφαήλ, “I am Raphael”, λας) τὸ ὄμμα (or τὰ ὄμματα) τοῦ Τωβὶτ ἀναβλέψῃ,
occurring in 3 inscriptions. The phrase under “You who have sent Raphael to Media in order
consideration undoubtedly is an abbreviation of that the eyes of Tobit would have see again”.8
the statement: ἐγὼ εἰμὶ Ῥαφαὴλ ὁ παρεστάμενος Six further items contain the same invocation
ἐνώπιον κυρίου, “I am Raphael who is standing abbreviated to only its initial words, either ὁ τὸν
in front of the Lord”. This statement is found in Ῥαφαὴλ or ὁ τὸν Ῥαφαὴλ εἰς Μηδίαν. Of these
14 inscriptions; the one presented here (no.  6) twelve inscriptions in total, the one located
is found on the outer face of the sandstone on the northern side of the entrance to room
portal connecting the northern portico with (chapel) 4 has already been published by me
room  11. Two interesting graphic phenomena (Łajtar 2003c: 152, no. 12, fig. 13 on pl. VIII);
can be observed in these inscriptions in the part here I present another item, situated on the
containing Raphael’s self-presentation; in them, northern side of the entrance to room (chapel)
the word εἰμί is always recorded as ⲉⲓⲙⲓⲛ and 5 (no. 7). In one inscription, standing on the
παρεστάμενος as ⲡⲁⲣⲉⲥⲧⲁⲙⲉⲛⲟⲛ.6 The regularity northern side of the entrance to room (chapel) 4,
of these phenomena shows that the statement we come across the prayer: ἀρχάγγελε Ῥαφαήλ,
ἐγὼ εἰμὶ Ῥαφαὴλ ὁ παρεστάμενος ἐνώπιον κυρίου ὁ τὸν Ἀσμοδαῖον ἔδησας καὶ Σάρα ἠλευθέρωσας,
was known in the Banganarti church in a fos- Χριστὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἱκέτευε, “Archangel Raph-
silized form, incorrect from the point of view ael, You who have bound Asmodaeus and have
of the normative grammar of Greek, possibly set Sara free, beseech Christ for us” (cf. Łajtar
under the influence of a source. This could 2003c: 153-154, no. 13, fig. 5 on pl. IV). Three
have been, for example, a liturgical codex kept events from the story of Tobias are alluded to
in the church and used in cultic celebrations of in these inscriptions: Tobias the son’s trip in the
the Archangel. From the formal point of view,
and also from the point of view of its contents,
the statement ἐγὼ εἰμὶ Ῥαφαὴλ ὁ παρεστάμενος 7
 The idea of Raphael being one of angels who stand
ἐνώπιον κυρίου depends on the words Raphael in front of the Lord passed over from the Book of Tobit to
later Jewish and Christian tradition; see e.g. Testamentum
says while revealing himself to Tobias and his Solomonis V 9 (McCown 1922: 23*): “φοβήθητι, Ἀσμοδαῖε,
τὸν θεὸν καὶ εἰπέ μοι ἐν ποίῳ ἀγγέλῳ καταργῆσαι”. ὁ δαίμων
λέγει· “Ῥαφαὴλ ὁ παρεστὼς ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ· διώκει
 Both phenomena are rooted in the pronounciation of με καὶ ἧπαρ μετὰ χολῆς ἰχθύος ἐπὶ κροκίνων ἀνθράκων
Post-Classic Greek: the appearance of the non-etymological καπνιζόμενον”.
/n/ at the end of a syllable, and the exchanging of /n/ for /s/ 8
 In only two cases is this invocation followed by
in the final position. For these phenomena, see generally a  request, which allows designating the entire text as
Gignac 1976: 131-132; for their occurence in Nubian Greek, a prayer. In the four remaining cases, the invocation stands
see e.g. Łajtar 2003b: 257 (index). alone.
264 Adam Łajtar

company of Raphael from Nineveh to Media possibility, the Greek version is unproblematic;
and back, healing Tobias the father’s eyesight one would only expect the reversed order of
with the help of the entrails of a big fish caught elements: θεέ Ῥαφαήλ instead of Ῥαφαὴλ θεέ.
in the Tigris River during the trip, and freeing What causes problems is the Old Nubian ver-
the Virgin Sara from the Demon Asmodaios.9 sion, which should read ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲛ︥ ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ. Accept-
They illustrate Raphael’s basic qualities as the ing the translation “O God of Raphael”, one
one who was sent by God to help men in any has to assume that the genitival -(ⲓ)ⲛ has been
difficult situation, especially with health prob- omitted as is sometimes the case in Old Nubian,
lems and dramatic encounters with demonic especially in informal texts such as visitors’
powers. In this context, it is important to observe inscriptions (Browne, G.M. 2002: 34, § 3.6.2.c.).
that several Banganarti inscriptions ask Raphael With the second possibility, it is the Old Nubian
to free men from the traps of the enemy (= the version that is correct. It is explicable by the fact
devil), and several others pray for his assistance of the Old Nubian ⲧⲗ︥ⲗ-, “God”, being used also
in recovering one’s health. Another observation, in relation to archangels and saints (Browne,
this time of a textual nature, should be made G.M. 1996a: 171–172, s.v. ⲧⲗ︥ⲗ-). The Greek ver-
here. The two invocations discussed in this par- sion should probably be regarded as a calque of
agraph – ὁ τὸν Ῥαφαὴλ εἰς Μηδίαν ἀπέστειλεν the Old Nubian version, both with respect to the
τὸ ὄμμα (or τὰ ὄμματα) τοῦ Τωβὶτ ἀναβλέψῃ and word semantics and the syntax; in Old Nubian,
ὁ τὸν Ἀσμοδαῖον ἔδησας καὶ Σάρα ἠλευθέρωσας, the attribute always follows its noun (Browne,
Χριστὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἱκέτευε – have a very simi- G.M. 2002: 91-92, § 4.9.1), whereas the order is
lar construction and rhytm. Originally, perhaps inversed in Greek. For the purpose of the pres-
together with the statement ἐγὼ εἰμὶ Ῥαφαὴλ ent paper, I accept the second possibility. One
ὁ παρεστάμενος ἐνώπιον κυρίου and some other has to remember that prayers, even if directed
phrases, they could have been part of a hymn to to Raphael, have God as the ultimate addressee
Archangel Raphael, otherwise unknown to us, and the Archangel is only an intercessor. As
that was sung in the Banganarti Church during Detlef Müller (1959: 48) put it: “Der Erzengel ist
liturgical celebrations in his honour. Diener und Werkzeug Gottes (...). Gott wirkt durch
With the last paragraph, we have already ihn. Wer also Raphael anruft (oder jemand anders),
entered the category of prayers. A typical muß Gott durch ihn anrufen. Der Erzengel allein
prayer consists of two elements: an invocation kann niemals die Erfüllung einer Bitte verheißen.
or an address and a request. The prayers are Das tut vielmehr Gott – und zwar in enger Gemein-
mostly addressed to Archangel Raphael alone, schaft mit dem Erzengel, auf seine Fürsprache hin”.
and in one case, Jesus Christ and Raphael are In this light, establishing the exact translation
combined in this capacity (see no. 10).10 There of the invocation Ῥαφαὴλ θεέ/ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ is
is also a series of invocations expressed in such of secondary importance as both “O God of
a way that it is difficult to say with certainty Raphael” and “O Saint Raphael” have more or
who the actual addressee is. The invocations in less the same meaning.
question occur in two language versions: Greek In addition to “Saint” (θεός, ⲧⲗ︥ⲗ-), Raphael
and Old Nubian. The former reads Ῥαφαὴλ θεέ is provided with some other designations. Old
(see no. 11), the latter ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ (see nos. Nubian texts frequently call him “Lord” (ⳟⲟⲇⲇ-).
13, 15). There are two possibilities of under- Interestingly, this designation, typical of Jesus
standing these invocations, namely “O God of Christ and, to a lesser degree, God the Father,
Raphael” and “O Saint Raphael”. With the first never occurs for Raphael in Greek texts from
Banganarti. The latter occasionally use the term
“Archangel” (ἀρχάγγελος) to address him, which
 The last event is mentioned in a prayer to Archangel
Raphael inscribed on the southwestern face of the south-
in turn is never found in Old Nubian inscriptions
eastern support (see below, no. 16). It is found also in from the site. The same holds true for the epithet
a prayer to Raphael contained in a wall inscription in the “my ambassador” (πρεσβευτής μου), alluding to
Faras Cathedral; for the edition of the inscription, see Raphael’s quality as the helper of men and their
Kubińska 1974: 172-173, no. 125, fig. 111; an improved intercessor at the throne of the Lord (see nos. 8
reading is found in Łajtar 2009a: 111-115.
and 9). Raphael is designated expressis verbis
 There are also rare examples of prayers addressed
alone to God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity, as the “messenger” of man in the encomium
Michael, and the Virgin Mary. on him attributed to Saint John Chrysostom as
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 265

contained in BM Ms Oriental, No. 7022 (Budge which are discussed below. One prayer in Old
1915: 531 [Coptic text], 1039 [English transla- Nubian invokes Raphael as “Ruler of saints”
tion]).11 In one inscription, Raphael is apparently (ⳟⲥ︥ⲥⲓⲅⲟⲩⲛⲁ ⲡⲁⲟⲩⲟⲩ) (no. 12), a unique and unex-
called “the one who has life in him, the ani- pected designation, possibly explicable through
mated one” (ἐμψυχός).12 Interestingly enough, the fact that we are in his cult place. Three
this epithet is ascribed to him twice in Dongola, inscriptions have Greek prayers with an elab-
once in the legend to the mural on the eastern orate invocation reading: “O my boast and my
wall of room 3 of the Southwestern Annex to the glory, and my saviour, Raphael” (ἡ ἐμοῦ καύ-
monastery on Kom H, showing Raphael fight- χημα καὶ ἡ δόξα μου καὶ ῥύστης μου, Ῥαφαήλ),
ing against a rhinoceros demon (for this paint- which in yet another case is abbreviated to the
ing, see Martens-Czarnecka 2012: 197-199 with initial “O my boast” (ἡ ἐμοῦ καύχημα). Of these
fig. 98; the legend to the painting is discussed altogether four inscriptions, I present here the
in Łajtar forthcoming a), and once in the legend one located on the eastern side of the entrance
to the painting of Jesus Christ with Archangels to room (chapel) 21 (no. 9) in addition to an
Michael and Raphael protecting a Makurian item already published before (Łajtar 2003c:
church dignitary located on the northern wall of 155, no. 15, fig. 15 on pl. X).15 The repeated use
the prothesis of Church BV (Łajtar forthcoming- of the invocation “O my boast and my glory,
b).13 In an inscription on the northern wall of the and my saviour, Raphael” in visitors’ inscrip-
main chapel of the church, Raphael apparently tions in the Banganarti church seems to indicate
bears the epithet “Chief intellect” (ἀρχινοῦς). As that it is of a literary, perhaps liturgical, origin.
far as I am aware, the word ἀρχινοῦς has not Like the invocations of the Archangel playing
been attested elsewhere. As an epithet of Raph- on the motifs from the Book of Tobit, it may
ael, it probably alludes to his being the most have belonged to a hymn that was performed
learned among the archangels, especially in the during solemn celebrations in his honour. The
fields of medicine and magic. Significantly, this author of one inscription apparently calls Raph-
epithet is connected with a word from the root ael ἡ κοίμησις μου, “my sleep” (no. 9). Here
παιδαγωγ-,”train, educate”, being either another probably eternal sleep is meant. If so, one has
epithet of Raphael (παιδάγωγος) or a request to assume that Christian Nubians considered
addressed to him to educate the believer (παι- Raphael as being connected with death and the
δαγώγησον). The intellectual aspect of Raphael’s afterlife. This connection is otherwise attested
personality seems to have played an important in his case in Coptic sources from Egypt (cf.
role in the Banganarti church as suggested by e.g. Aranda Pérez 1991: 2053). According to
such expressions as: “Raphael instructs me the Apocalypse of Ezra 6.1, Raphael is said to be
through the day and night” (Ῥαφαὴλ μὲ σοφίζει present at the end of men’s lives. The Apocalypse
διὰ τὴν ἡμέραν καὶ νύκτα)14, “I, pupil of Raphael” of Moses 40 shows him participating, together
(μοὶ Ῥαφαὴλ μαθητής), “O Saint Raphael, teach with other angels, in the burial of Abel next
me the book” (ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ ϣⲟⲕⲕⲁ ⲕⲟⲩⲗⲓⲣⲉⲥⲱ) to Adam. In the Coptic encomium on ­Raphael
(no. 15), and some other Old Nubian prayers, contained in BM Ms. Oriental 7022, ­Raphael
appears to the alleged author, Saint John
Chrystostom, and declares that he shall take
 A.E.W Budge gives the following translation: “He
(i.e. Raphael) is a messenger, for he made supplication to him to the King, the Christ, on the day of his
the Treasury of Compassion, the Christ, on behalf of Tobit demise (Budge 1915: 532 [Coptic text], and 1040
and Tobias his son, and Sarra” (1915: 1039). In another [English translation]).
place in the same text, Raphael is said to have taken the Requests in Greek prayers are usually very
prayers of Sarra “to the Seventh Heaven, to God Almighty” simple and consist of a verb in aorist impera-
(1915: 1038).
 The word ἐμψυχός is incompletely preserved but the
tive, either occurring alone or in a combination.
reading seems to be secure. The requested favours are of a general nature.
 It is important to observe that Church BV situated in Raphael is asked to guard a believer (φύλα-
the royal quarter of the citadel of Dongola most probably ξον, διαφύλαξον), help him (βοήθησον, βοήθεια
had Raphael as its patron; see below. γενοῦ), bless (εὐλόγησον), protect (σκέπασον),
 As the verb has been recorded in an abbreviated
form, the exact meaning of the inscription is not entirely
certain, anyway the indicative form seems more reasonable 15
 Note that the word γόνος is incorrectly interpreted
here than the imperative. in the cited article.
266 Adam Łajtar

guide (ὁδήγησον), have pity on him (οἰκτείρ- with the mention of the object of the action.
σον), or else to deliver or ward (ῥῦσαι) him.16 The believers ask Raphael: “guard me” (ⲁⲓⲕⲁ
The request for guarding is sometimes accom- ⲉⲣ︥ⳡⲉⲥⲱ), probably a counterpart of the Greek
panied by an adverb specifying its character: (δια)φύλαξον (no. 18), “blow, lay, give this spirit
“always guard” (ἀεὶ φύλαξον), “surely guard” to me” (ⲁⲓⲕⲁ ⲉⲛ︥ ⲥⲉⲩⲁⲣⲧⲓⲕⲁ ⲟⲩⲫⲫⲁ ⲟⲩⲧⲣⲁ̇ ⲇⲓⲛⲉⲥⲟ)
(λίην φύλαξον), “guard day and night” (ἡμέρας (no. 12), “give mercy to my son” (ⲕⲉⲓⲥⲕⲉⲗⲓⲗⲉ ⲁⲛ
καὶ νυκτὸς φύλαξον). Also “deliver/ward” may ⲧⲟⲧⲧⲁ ⳟⲁⲉⲓⲁ ⲇⲓⲛⲉⲥⲟ) (no. 13), “open the eyes
be described more properly: “ward off the traps [ - - - ]” (ⲙⲁⳡⲁ̣ⲛⲁⲕⲁ ⲡⲓⲕⲕⲁ ̣ⲅ̣ⲣⲉⲥⲱ) (no. 14), “tell
of the enemy”(= devil) (ῥῦσαι ἐκ παγίδος τοῦ me [ - - - ]” (̣ⲇⲁ ̣ ⲉⲓⲅⲣⲉⲥⲱ). Some of these requests,
ἐχθροῦ) or “deliver me from every evil thing” especially the one asking for mercy to the visi-
([ἐκ] πᾶσας πονηρίας ῥῦσαι με). Note that the tor’s son, may allude to real life situations. This
last request must have been modeled on the last unnamed son could have been seriously sick
phrase of the Pater Noster prayer. One prayer and bedridden which prompted his father to
asks Raphael “to beseech Christ for us” (Χριστὸν make a pilgrimage to Raphael’s cult place in
ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἱκέτευε), another, if my reconstruc- Banganarti in order to ask the Archangel to heal
tion of the text is correct, “not to be indifferent him, but other scenarios are possible as well.
to our supplications”.17 Two inscriptions have On the other hand, the request “open the eyes”
prayers with the request: “your (= Raphael’s) probably has nothing to do with healing but
grace shall stay with me forever” (ἔσται μετ’ has a more general meaning connected with
ἐμοῦ ἡ χάρις σου ἀεί) (see no. 9). This request knowledge. Such an interpretation is suggested
makes the impression of being an emulation by the lack of a possessive pronoun. The writer
of a  literary model, however, I am unable to does not ask the Archangel to open (= heal) his
identify it; possibly we are dealing again with or someone’s eyes, but to improve the percep-
a  borrowing from a hymn in honour of the tive faculty of men. A similar meaning is most
Archangel. Interestingly, the grace (χάρις) of an probably hidden behind the last of the requests
archangel, most probably Raphael, is mentioned listed above. The partly preserved word preced-
in an inscription on the western wall of room 11, ing “tell me” could have been “the truth”, “the
the author of which was Paper, king of the city mystery”, or something of the sort. Interest-
of Toungoul (= Dongola): ὅτι ἀρχάγγελε χάριν ingly, the most frequently encountered request
δωθῆναι ἡμῆν ἡ σ(ωτη)ρ(ί)α ⟨εἰς⟩ τὰς ψυκὰς ἡμῶν in Old Nubian prayers also alludes to Raphael’s
(cf. Łajtar 2008b: 329-330).18 The exact meaning teaching qualities. As many as six prayers ask
of the above phrase is not entirely clear because the Archangel “teach (me) the book” (ϣⲟⲕⲕⲁ
of its very entangled syntax; it should probably ⲕⲟⲩⲗⲗⲓⲣⲉⲥⲱ), one requests him “write (me) the
be translated as: “that grace should be given book” (ϣⲟⲕⲕⲁ ⲡⲁⲓ̈ⲥⲱ), and one “teach (me and)
to us by the Archangel, the salvation to our write (me) the book” (ϣⲟⲕⲕⲁ ⲕⲟⲩⲗⲗⲓⲣⲉⲥⲱ ⲡⲁⲓ̈ⲥⲱ).
souls”. The phrase is probably a prayer with Below I present one of these inscriptions located
the verb for praying replaced by ὅτι, on which on the northern wall of room (chapel) 16 (no.
the accusative with the infinitive χάριν δωθῆναι 15). As far as I am aware, the request “teach me
(= δoθῆναι) depends. the book” occurs three times outside the Ban-
Requests in Old Nubian prayers are similar ganarti inscriptions. In all three cases it is found
to the Greek ones from the formal point of view; in prayers inscribed on the walls of cult places
however, the grace they desire from Raphael and has Archangel Michael as the addressee.
differs slightly and is more specific than that The occurrences come from the Northwestern
mentioned in the counterparts. The essential ele- Annex to the monastery on Kom H at Dongola
ment of the requests is a verb in the second per- (Łajtar forthcoming c), the so-called bishops’
son singular imperative, as a rule supplemented room of the Faras Cathedral (unpublished; my
reading from the transcript kept in the inven-
 All requests, except for the last one, are standard ele- tory of finds made by the Polish Mission), and
ments of Nubian dedications of paintings, which, as a rule, a church in Medik south of Abu Simbel (Grif-
are composed as prayers for interecession for the donor. fith 1913: 58–59, no. 2, lines 3-4). One wonders
 The prayer was preserved without the verb of
what the word “book” mentioned in these
request: ταῖς ἱκεσίαις ἐκτὸς [ - - - ].
  Note that the translation of the inscription given in prayers refers to. The requests “write (me) the
the cited article is probably incorrect. book” and “teach (me and) write (me) the book”
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 267

occurring in the Banganarti inscriptions rather Church of Jesus in Dang( ), Thegna of the town
exclude the Bible and incline one to think that of the Island of Michael and Lord of Elders, on
the word “book” is used metaphorically in the the southern face of the southeastern support
meaning “book of life”. This view is confirmed (no. 16). The understanding of the prayer’s
by the Dongola inscription mentioned above, text is seriously impeded by the extremely cor-
which reads as follows: ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗⲛ︥ ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ [ⲁⲓ̈ⲟⲩ] rupted Greek; what is presented here should
ⲙⲏⲛⲁⲕⲟⲩⲇⲁ ϣ{ⲉ}ⲟⲗ ⲁⳡⲉ̣ⲛⲕⲁ ⲕⲟⲩⲗⲗⲉⲥⲟ ⲁⲓ̈ⲕ̣ⲁ̣, “God be taken as a proposal. In the invocation of
of Michael (or: Saint Michael), I Menakouda, the prayer, Raphael is called “helper of the
teach me the book of life”. Providing the above whole of mankind”, the one who “administers
reasoning is correct, the prayers under consid- all men”. Interestingly, the word for “helper”
eration request Raphael to show humans the is ἰούτωρ, undoubtedly a shortened version of
proper way of living, to instruct them how to ἀδιούτωρ, a Greek transliteration of the Latin
live. This is in agreement with the view of Raph- adiutor, “assistant”.21 In the supplicatory part of
ael as a guide of men, clearly expressed in his the prayer, Raphael is requested to save believ-
encomium in Coptic contained in London BM ers from a danger (or dangers), to throw out
Ms Oriental 7022 (Budge 1915: 529 [Coptic text], every enemy which is upon them in the war,
and 1037 [English translation]).19 and to keep sudden death away from them.
Two prayers, one in Old Nubian and one in One wonders what all these requests refer to.
Greek, stand out by virtue of their length and Do they allude to historical events befalling the
their interesting contents. The Nubian prayer inhabitants of Makuria or, rather, to the eternal
is inscribed with violet paint across the eastern war men wage against the devil? I am inclined
wall of room (chapel) 21 (published in Browne, to think that it is the second possibility which
G.M. 2004). The technique of the execution of is correct. It is strongly supported by frequent
the inscription and the lack of any information references in the Banganarti epigraphic mate-
about the visitor indicate that we are dealing rial to Raphael as conqueror of evil forces, in
with an element of the original decoration of this particular inscription substantiated by the
the church. The text bears a strong literary story of freeing the Virgin Sara from the Demon
overtone; it is possible that we are dealing with Asmodaios as told in the Book of Tobit.
a rare piece of the genuine literary production of Among the wall graffiti in the Upper Church
Christian Nubians. The prayer is addressed to at Banganarti, one finds rare examples of nar-
God designated as “Leader of souls” (ⲙⲟⲩⲇⲟⲩⲁ̇ ratives of visits paid to the church constructed
ⲁ̇ⲉⲗ︥ⲅⲟⲩⲛⲁ), who “set up Raphael as the helper either in the first or the third person singular.
of every man who has a heart that is sick” They are arranged under the heading “varia”
(ⲁⲕⲇⲁⲣⲁ ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲕⲁ ⳝⲁⲗⲗⲏⲕⲁⲧⲧⲁ ⲁ̇ⲉⲗ︥ⲟⲇⲕⲕ̣︥ ⲕⲟⲉⲓⲛⲏⲛ together with some other hardly classifiable
ⲉⲧ︥ⲕⲛ︥ ⲇⲟⲩⲣⲧⲓⲧ̣ⲁ)20, and asks Him for the gift of inscriptions. The most interesting of these
living in a land “that does not have harshness inscribed narratives is probably the one left by
of the evil one” (ⲁ̇ⳡ̣ⲁ̣ⲣ̣ⲉ̣ⲅ̣ⲣ̣ⲉ̣ⲥⲟ ⲥ︤ⲕⲧⲉⲛ︥ ⲡⲉⲇⲕⲓ ⲕⲟⲥⲛ︥ a certain David, son of Basileios, on the east-
ⲕⲟⲕⲕⳡ︥ⲓⲗⲁ). The Greek prayer is part of a visi- ern side of the entrance to room (chapel) 22
tor’s graffito left by a certain Papa, deacon of the (no. 17). Highly corrupted Greek makes this
inscription difficult to understand. The author
 The English translation by Budge reads: “The mean- apparently reports that he paid homage to
ing of [the name] Raphael is ‘God Who guideth men’” God who is designated as the one “who have
(1915: 1037). In another place of the same work Raphael sent Raphael as His main gift to us being full
appears to the alleged author, Saint John Chrysostom, and (of trembling?)” (ὁ ἀποστείλας Ῥαφαὴλ τὸν
declares: “I walked with thee and I prepared the path ἀρχιέδνα εἰς ἡμᾶς (τρόμῳ) γέμοντας). The term
whereon thou wast to travel, and I prepared for thee the
instruction which was peculiarly suitable for thy mind
for “main gift” – ἀρχιέδνα – is addendum lexicis,
and heart” (cf. Budge 1915: 532-533 [Coptic text], and 1040
[English translation]). 21
 The word ἀδιούτωρ (ἀιούτωρ) is well attested in
 Gerald Michael Browne observed that “Raphael” Greek sources, both literary and documentary, originat-
probably refers to both the Archangel and his church, most ing mainly from Late Antiquity. It normally refers to an
probbaly the Upper Church at Banganarti. Note that the officer of a lower grade, either in the army or in civil
term for “helper” occurring here (ⳝⲁⲗⲗⲏⲕⲁⲧⲧ-) is other- administration, who was an attendant to higher grades
wise known as an Old Nubian counterpart of the Greek (Gr. βοηθός). For a collection of evidence and a discussion,
λειτουργός. see Cervenka-Ehrenstrasser 1996: 50-51, s.v. ἀδιούτωρ.
268 Adam Łajtar

although we know ἕδνα (pl.), meaning “bride 2013: 69-70).23 Three inscriptions in Banganarti
price, wedding gifts”. From the semantic point specify that their authors were attached to the
of view, the designation of God occurring in Raphael Church of Dongola and this could have
this inscription transmits the very well-known been precisely Church BV.24 In the case of other
idea of Raphael as helper of mankind. From the inscriptions, it is impossible to decide whether
formal point of view, it resembles the phrases the men mentioned in them officiated in Church
ὁ τὸν Ῥαφαὴλ εἰς Μηδίαν ἀπέστειλεν τὸ ὄμμα (or BV or in the Upper Church at Banganarti or per-
τὰ ὄμματα) τοῦ Τωβὶτ ἀναβλέψῃ and ὁ τὸν Ἀσμο- haps yet another unidentifiable church. Inter-
δαῖον ἔδησας καὶ Σάρα ἠλευθέρωσας, Χριστὸν estingly, the names of churches as contained in
ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἱκέτευε studied above. Like these, it visitors’ presentations yield yet another epithet
could have originally been part of a hymn hav- for Raphael, not attested in the prayers. In three
ing Raphael as its subject. An inscription on the inscriptions, the name of a church reads ⲥⲟⳟⲟⳝ
eastern wall of room 11 (no. 17) also probably ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ (see no. 20). ⲥⲟⳟⲟⳝ- is the generic term
belongs among the category of narratives. The for the “eparch of Nobadia” (cf. Browne, G.M.
text seems to say that a certain Ogijjinga came 1996a: 160, s.v. ⲥⲟⳟⲟⳝ-).25 It was also used as an
to the Church of Raphael (⟨ἐ⟩γὼ ἧκε Ῥαφαὴλ epithet for Archangel Michael in his quality
ⲟⲅⲓⳝⳝⲓⳟⲁ). Providing my interpretation of the as the leader of Heavenly forces, perhaps as
inscription is correct,22 we have direct proof that a counterpart to the Greek ἀρχιστράτηγος, “com-
the Upper Church at Banganarti was dedicated mander-in-chief”. The Banganarti inscriptions
to this very Saint. attest for the first time its use also in relation
The inscription of Ogijjinga discussed in the to Raphael. This may be due to Raphael being
previous paragraph directs our attention to the regarded as a bellicose figure, attested in Coptic
question of the names of churches as occurring sources from Egypt. According to the Apocalypse
in the Banganarti inscriptions. As a rule, they are of Ezra 1.4, Raphael became commander-in-chief
found as an element of personal presentations of the angels after Michael had departed; other
of the authors or commissioners of the inscrip- sources present him as presiding over one of the
tions and qualify them as members of the clerus four cohorts of angels surrounding the throne of
of a given church. With nearly 150 attestations, God (cf. e.g. Aranda Pérez 1991: 2053). Raphael
the most frequently encountered church is the is called expressis verbis “commander-in-chief”
(Great) Church of Jesus. It should probably be in his encomium in Coptic preserved in BM Ms.
identified with the so-called Cruciform Church Oriental, No. 7022 (Budge 1915: 531 [Coptic text]
at Dongola, which, according to a hypothesis by and 1039 [English translation]).26
Włodzimierz Godlewski, was dedicated to Jesus
and played the role of the Dongolese cathedral 23
 Establishing the invocation of the church was possi-
in the 13th-14th centuries (Godlewski 1990a: ble thanks to representations, on the walls of the prothe-
sis room, of donors, who are identified by inscriptions as
136). Next in line to the Jesus Church comes
priests of the Church of Raphael.
the Church of Raphael, which is mentioned in 24
 Two of these three inscriptions, one located on the
ca. thirty inscriptions (such an example is no. eastern face of the northeastern support, another on the
19). Other churches, altogether over 20 in num- southern face of the entrance to room (chapel) 5, were left
ber, are known through only single attestations. by the same man, a certain Ogijeno who presents himself
as being attached to the Church of Raphael at the town
The question arises if Raphael Church occur- of Dongola (ⲧⲟⲩⲅⲅⲓⲗⲗⲛ︥ ⲇⲓⲡⲡⲛ︥ ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ); for the inscription
ring in visitors’ presentations can be identified on the northeastern support, see Łajtar 2003c: 150, no. 6;
with a  structure known archaeologically. We note that the location of the inscription is incorrectly indi-
already know that the church at Banganarti had cated there. The author of the third inscription, standing
Raphael as its patron. In all probability, also the on the southern face of the entrance to room (chapel) 4,
was Theophorou, “great priest of (the Church of) Jesus
Church BV situated in the royal quarter of the and also priest of (the Church) of Raphael of Timikleos
citadel of Dongola, to the south of the palace (= Dongola)”. For identification of Timikleos with Dongola,
building, was dedicated to him (cf. Godlewski see below, commentary to inscription no. 11.
 Browne explains the term as a compound of ⲥⲁ-,
“lord” and ⳟⲟⳝ(ⳝ)-, “mountain”, hence “lord of the moun-
 What prevents me from accepting this interpretation tain”, but this explanation is not selfevident.
without having any doubts is that the personal pronoun 26
 The English translation by Budge is as follows: “He
of the first person singular (ἐγὼ) does not agree with the is a ‘Commander-in-Chief’ , for he bound Asmodeus in
third person singular of the verb (ἧκε). fetters” (1915: 1039).
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 269

Raphael is also well represented in the It is interesting to observe that the “Raphael” as
anthroponomastics. For reasons given above, it part of proper names is sometimes recorded in
is hardly possible that common people bore the an abbreviated form or as the numerical crypto-
name of the Archangel without any modifica- gram (ⲣⲫ︦ⲗⲕⲟⲩⲇⲁ, ⲭⲙ︥ⲕⲟⲩⲇⲁ). This is undoubtedly
tion as their proper names. There is, however, due to the force of tradition in recording the
a group of compound names with the name name of the Archangel and may have an addi-
of Raphael as one of the constitutive elements. tional aesthetic valour.
Three such names are attested, namely: Rapha- To sum up, visitors’ inscriptions at the Upper
elkouda (ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲕⲟⲩⲇⲁ) with the variant Rapha- Church at Banganarti present Raphael as a cen-
kouda (ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲕⲟⲩⲇⲁ) (see no. 21), Raphaelphorou tral holy figure. This is irrefutable proof to the
(ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲫⲟⲣⲟⲩ), and Raphaelki (ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲕⲓ). The effect that the Upper Church and most probably
first of these names has nine attestations, some already the Lower one were dedicated to him.
of them probably referring to the same individ- The inscriptions show a good knowledge of the
uals, the remaining two – one attestation each. personality of the Archangel. They lay stress on
The name Raphaelkouda/Raphakouda belongs his being the helper of men in every problematic
to a large group of Nubian names constructed situation and their intercessor with the Lord.
with the element -ⲕⲟⲩⲇⲁ, “servant” (cf. Satz- They also present him as the leader of men on
inger 1992), and may be translated as “servant the paths of life, the one who shows the way and
of Raphael”. The name Raphaelphorou is of teaches how to cope with difficulties. To illus-
Greek origin but is provided with the Nubian trate the qualities and prerogatives of Raphael,
nominal formant -ⲟⲩ. It characterizes the per- the inscriptions make frequent use of motifs
son with such a name as the “bearer of Rapha- known from the Book of Tobit. These motifs
el”.27 The name Raphaelki is a slightly puzzling. appear as ready formulae, the direct source of
Nubian names frequently end with -ⲓ added to which could have been a liturgical text on the
the stem, however, as far as this case is con- Archangel, possibly a hymn in his honour. The
cerned, one would expect ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲓ not ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲕⲓ. inscriptions frequently mention a  church or
Perhaps ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲕⲓ is a variant or a corruption churches of Raphael, while his name is also well
of the name ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲕⲟ. Even if not attested this represented in the onomastics. All this testifies
name might have existed for we know the par- to the fact that Archangel Raphael was a promi-
allel formations ⲓⲏⲥⲟⲩⲥⲓⲕⲟ, ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁⲕⲟ, ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗⲕⲟ, nent figure of popular piety to the inhabitants of
ⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥⲕⲟ, etc., in which the name of a holy fig- Dongola and its immediate hinterland. It seems
ure is provided with the formant -ⲕⲟ, “having”. as if in Dongola he claimed the second position
Providing the above reasoning is correct, the among the archangels, after Michael and before
name ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗⲕⲓ would mean “having Raphael”. Gabriel, who is rather scarcely represented both
in iconographic and written sources. This con-
trasts with the situation in Egypt where Raphael
 The Banganari epigraphic material presents paral-
lel constructions ⲁⲅⲅⲓⲙⲟⲩⲫⲟⲣⲟⲩ (perhaps a corruption of comes as the third archangel, in terms of signif-
ⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲫⲟⲣⲟⲩ), ⲓⲉⲥⲟⲩ(ⲥ)ⲫⲟⲣⲟⲩ, ⲅⲁⲃⲣⲓⲏⲗⲟⲫⲟⲣⲟⲩ, ⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲫⲟⲣⲟⲩ icance, following Michael and Gabriel (Müller
and ⲑⲉⲟⲩⲫⲟⲣⲟⲩ. 1959: 48-53).
270 Adam Łajtar

Samples of inscriptions
Note: Numbers in round brackets refer to the entries in Łajtar, forthcoming d.

1 (249). Corridor leading from Chapel 6 to an alongated room behind it, 54.5 cm away from the
southwestern edge of the corridor, 75 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 24 x 17 cm; h. of letters:
3.9 cm (ⲗ) – 17 cm (ⲫ). Note that the letter ⲫ has two eyes inside the round element, one at each side
of the vertical stroke (cf. 11, which also has ⲫ with eyes in the name Ῥαφαήλ). They undoubtedly
refer to the Archangel Raphael’s constant keeping watch over mankind. To the right of the inscrip-
tion, oblique and vertical scratching resembling letters and a cross are visible.


2 (72). Western wall of room 11, 24 cm away from the southwestern corner, 32 cm above the
floor. Dimensions: 18.5 x 11 cm; h. of letters: 2.7 cm (ⲏ) – 5.5 cm (ⲣ). The letter ⲁ has three different
shapes: round as in Old Nubian majuscules (line 1), square (second letter of line 2), a triangle in an
upside down position (fourth letter in line 2). The script rises to the right.

To the right of the inscription, there are drawings showing animals (a zebu? and gazelle).


3 (303). Northern side of the entrance passage to room (chapel) 5, 23 cm away from the western
edge of the passage (counting to the cross), 40 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 22.1 x 12.5 cm; h. of
letters: 3.4 cm (ⲁ in line 2) – 7.6 cm (ⲓ). The script slopes downwards in line 3.
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 271

† Ῥα[φαήλ]
Γαβριήλ . . [ - - - ]

3. Traces of letters to the right of the name of Gabriel may not belong to this inscription.

4 (237). Entrance to room (chapel) 7, eastern side, portion of the wall to the south of the pillar,
28 cm away from the pillar, 154 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 23.5 x 8.5 cm; h. of letters: 1.8 cm
(ⲗ) – 4.6 cm (ⲓ̈). The name of Raphael is written in the form of a monogram. A similar monogram
of Raphael standing alone occurs immediately above the present inscription.

† Ῥαφαήλ. κλ(ισία) Ἰὼβ πρε(σβύτερος).

read ἐκκλησία

O Raphael. (I), priest of (the Church of) Iob.

The name Raphael written in the form of a monogram must refer to the Archangel and not a par-
ticular person. It probably is a kind of invocation, not connected syntactically with the rest of the text.
The author of the inscription indicated his church affiliation but not his personal name. He
undoubtedly did this as a sign of his modesty in front of the Lord, who knows the names of all
men (for the expression of modesty in Greek Christian inscriptions, see Roueché 2007). A  priest
of a Church of Iob, also not indicating his name, left an inscription on the southern wall of room
(chapel) 5. The similarity of these two inscriptions strongly suggests that they have a common
272 Adam Łajtar

The reading κλι(σία) ⟨Ἰ⟩ώβ or κλ⟨ι⟩(σία) Ἰώβ is also possible, assuming that we are dealing with
a  haplography. The Church of Iob may be on record in yet another inscription from Banganarti.
The localization of this church (these churches) is completely unknown. The biblical Iob was a fami-
lar person to the Copts, commemorated in the Coptic liturgical calendar (see O’Leary 1937: 164).
Inscriptions from Banganarti yield the first attestation of his cult in Nubia.

5 (56). Western side of the entrance to room 11, 19 cm from the south edge of the entrance, 79 cm
above the floor. Dimensions: 20.5 x 9.8 cm; h. of letters: 2.6 cm (second ⲁ) – 8.2 cm (ⲣ).

ἐγὼ Ῥαφαή(λ).

I, Raphael.

6 (10). Sandstone portal connecting the northern portico with the interior of the church, outer
face, arch, inner row of blocks, first block to the left of the keystone. Dimensions: 13 x 12 cm; the
average height of the letters: 1.2 – 1.4 cm; the enormously elongated ⲣ in line 2 is 5.2 cm high.
Cf. Żurawski 2003: 150, fig. 20 (photo showing the arch of the portal with this and neighbouring
inscriptions) and 21 (photo showing this inscription only). For a photo, see also above, p. 225, fig. 3.

† {μ} ἐγὼ εἰμὶν

ⲭⲙ︥ (= Ῥαφαὴλ) ὁ παρεστάμ-
ενον ἐνόπιον
4 κ(υρίο)υ· μὲ ⲡⲁⲡⲓⲁ̇ Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς
κλι(ρικὸς) γράψ(ον)· ⲭⲙ︥ (= Ῥαφαήλ), διαφύλ(αξον).

1. read εἰμὶ || 2-3. read παρεστάμενος ἐνώπιον || 5. read κληρικὸς

I am Raphael who is standing in front of the Lord. I, Papia, cleric of (the Church of) Jesus, wrote (this).
Raphael guard (me).

1. The person who carved this inscription probably wanted to start with μέ at first, but then
abandoned the idea and continued with ἐγώ, which is expected here from the point of view of the
normative grammar of Greek.
4. Papia, deacon of the Church of Jesus, at the same time designated also as levites, occurs in
another inscription in the Bagnanarti church, located on the western face of the pillar between
rooms (chapels) 3 and 4 (perhaps the same man). One notes a dot over ⲁ in the final position (the
same notation in another of Papia’s inscription). It probably indicates the word accent. Another
phenomenon worthy of note is the use of μὲ for “I”. This is due to the fall of the Greek declension
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 273

system in Nubian Greek of the late period (13th-14th centuries), which led to the disappearance of
the distinction between nominative and oblique cases.

7 (293). Northern side of the entrance to room (chapel) 5, 30 cm away from the western edge
of the entrance, 156 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 71.2 x 6.5 cm; h. of letters: 1 cm (ⲓ at the end)
– 3.2 cm (ⲫ). The writer could not fit the last word of line 1 into the space at his disposal and was
forced to continue up along the edge of the pillar.

† ὁ τὸν Ῥαφαὴλ εἰς Μυρίαν ἀπέστηλεν τὼ ⟨ὄ⟩μα τὼν το⟨ῦ⟩ Τοβὶτ ἀνεβλ(έψῃ).
ἐμοῦ ⲛⲁⲗⲥⲩ διάκ(ονος).

1. read Μηδίαν ἀπέστειλεν (= ἀποστείλας) τὸ ὄμμα τὸ τοῦ Τωβὶτ ἀναβλέψῃ

You who have sent Raphael to Media in order that the eyes of Tobit would have seen again. I, Nalsi, deacon.

1. Originally the sentence must have read: ὁ τὸν Ῥαφαὴλ εἰς Μηδίαν ἀποστείλας τὸ ὄμμα τὸ τοῦ
Τωβὶτ ἀναβλέψῃ. At some point, the participle ἀποστείλας was changed to the indicative ἀπέστειλεν,
which is found in all Banganarti inscriptions containing the sentence in question. The modified
sentence ὁ τὸν Ῥαφαὴλ εἰς Μηδίαν ἀπέστειλεν τὸ ὄμμα τὸ τοῦ Τωβὶτ ἀναβλέψῃ underwent further
changes, mainly resulting from the pronunciation of Post-Classic Greek: the loss of /n/ in the final
position and, in reversed order, its appearance in non-etymological contexts, the loss of the length
distinction in the /o/ vowel leading to the change of ⲟ for ⲱ and inversely. Additionally, ⲣ has been
substituted for ⲇ in the word Μηδίαν. This latter phenomenon is explicable through the influence
of Old Nubian in which ⲣ and ⲇ are regularly exchanged between each other in inlaut (cf. Browne,
G.M. 2002: 18).
The personal name ⲛⲁⲗⲥⲏ also occurs in another inscription in the Banganarti church, located
on the northern face of the pillar between rooms 20 and 19. It is paralleled by ⲛⲁⲗⲥⲩ on record in
three further inscriptions from Banganarti. Both ⲛⲁⲗⲥⲏ and ⲛⲁⲗⲥⲩ are probably just variant spellings
of the same name, which was pronounced /nalsi/. The personal name Nalsi (ⲛⲁⲗⲥⲏ, ⲛⲁⲗⲥⲩ) has not
been attested outside Banganarti inscriptions. Its etymology is unknown to me.

8 (84). Northern wall of room 11, 21 cm away from the northwestern corner, 160 cm above the
floor. Dimensions: 22 x 12.5 cm; h. of letters: 2.2 cm (ⲅ) – 4 cm (ⲭ).
274 Adam Łajtar

† [π]ρ[εσ]βευτά μου
ⲭⲙ︥ (= Ῥαφαὴλ) θεέ, βοήθεια
γενοῦ δι .

O my ambassador, Saint Raphael, be my help [ - - - ].

3. What follows γενοῦ may be read διὰ̣ (τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός) as in two other inscriptions from
Banganarti. Another possibility is to put a coma after γενοῦ and to read δια̣(φύλαξον), “guard”.

9 (647). Eastern side of the entrance to room (chapel) 21, 13.5 cm away from the northern edge
of the entrance, 194.5 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 51 x 24; h. of letters: 1.9 cm (ⲟ) – 6 cm (ⲫ).

† ἔσται μετ’ ἐμοῦ ἡ χάρις σου ἀεὶ ἡ ἐμοῦ καύ-

[χημ]α καὶ ἡ δόξα μου καὶ ῥύσθης μου Ῥα-
φαήλ, πρεσβευτά μου Ῥαφαὴλ ⲭⲙ︥ (= Ῥαφαὴλ)
4 [ - - - ]νους (καὶ) τὸ δ( ) μου (καὶ) ἡ χοίμησις (καὶ) ⲗⲁⲥⲙⲉ
- - - - μὲ ⲓⲱ(ⲁⲛⲛⲟ)ⲩ ἀρχ(ι)νοτ(άριος) ἰστι : —

2. read ῥύστης || 4. read κοίμησις

The grace of Yours shall stay with me forever, (You) are my boast and (my) glory and (my) seviour,
o Raphael, my ambassador, Raphael, Raphael [ - - - ] and my [ - - - ] and (my) sleep and [ - - - ]. I, Ioannou,
being archinotarios.

1. The prayer ἔσται μετ’ ἐμοῦ ἡ χάρις σου is found also in an inscription situated on the opposite,
western side of the entrance to room (chapel) 21. Perhaps these two inscriptions are related to each
4. One is tempted to read [ἀρχι]νοῦς as in the inscription on the northern wall of the main chapel
of the church discussed in the main text.
κοίμησις most probably designates eternal sleep here.
5. The reading ἀρχ(ι)νοτ(άριος) is not entirely certain. If correct, it would be only the second
attestation of the office of ἀρχινοτάριος, “chief notary”, in Christian Nubia. The other attestation is
the epitaph of Marianou, Bishop of Qasr Ibrim, died in AD 1132, who among other offices also held
the office of archinotarios of the eparch (most probably of Nobadia) (Łajtar, van der Vliet 2009:
no. 21, lines 11-12). ἀρχινοτάριος must have been the head of a local bureau of notarii (this was the
case of Marianou, the future bishop of Qasr Ibrim) or the head of notarii within an administrative
unit – a province or even the country. Another possibility, basing on the classical usage of the prefix
ἀρχι-, is that ἀρχινοτάριος was the head of the professional corporation of notarii. The fact that we
know nothing about the existence of professional corporations in Christian Nubia is an argument
against this supposition.

10 (717). Eastern wall of room 19, southern part of the wall, which is recessed in comparison with the
northern part, 12.5 cm away from the northern edge of the recess, 210 cm above the last floor. Dimen-
sions: 35 x 10 cm; h. of letters: 2.8 cm (ⲗ) – 6 cm (ⲣ). The inscription belongs to the earlier layer of plaster.

κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ, Ῥ(α)φ(αή)λ, φύλ(αξον)

εὐλ(όγησον), βοήθ(ησον).

Lord Jesus Christ, Raphael, guard, bless, help.

It is possible that the inscription had one or more lines above the present line 1 containing, among
other things, the personal data of the visitor.
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 275

1. The correct reading should be κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστ)έ. Χ(ριστο)ῦ was substituted for Χ(ριστ)έ
possibly under the influence of Ἰ(ησο)ῦ. An additional factor might have been that -ⲟⲩ is a very
effective nominal ending in Old Nubian. κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ is found at least two more times
in the Banganarti inscriptions, which testifies to some consistency in its use.

11 (953). Second support counting from the south of the western portico, western face, 14.5 cm
away from the northern edge of the pillar, 221 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 38.5 x 19.5 cm; h. of
letters: 2 cm (ⲟ in ⲙⲁⲣⲛ︥ⲕⲟⲩⲇⲁ) – 10.5 cm (ⲫ in Ῥαφαήλ). The letters shifted to mark abbreviations
are smaller. The letters in line 1, especially in the name Ῥαφαήλ, are bigger than in the rest of the
inscription. Two wings are attached to the round element of ⲫ in Ῥαφαήλ, one at each side. They
undoubtedly refer to Raphael being an archangel. ⲫ in φύλ(αξον) has the round element filled in with
scratchings on both sides. ⲉ in ἐγὼ in line 2 is provided with a small circle above it (normally a dot).

† Ῥαφαὴλ θ(ε)έ, φύλ(αξον) τὸν δ(οῦλόν σου)·

ἐγὼ ⲙⲁⲣⲛ︥ⲕⲟⲩⲇ(ⲁ) Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς μέγ(ας) ⲧⲓⲙⲓⲕ(ⲗⲉⲟⲥ)
ⲕⲗⲏⲣⲓⲕⲟⲩ, ἐγὼ γράψον.

Saint Raphael, guard (Your) servant. I, Marin­kouda, cleric of the Great (Church of) Jesus of Timikleos,
I wrote (this).

2-3. The designation Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς μέγ(ας) ⲧⲓⲙⲓⲕ(ⲗⲉⲟⲥ) ⲕⲗⲏⲣⲓⲕⲟⲩ is found also in an inscription left by
a certain Adelphos on the western face of the fifth support counting from the south of the western
portico (for this inscription, see Łajtar 2008c: 399-400 [English translation and short commentary],
with fig. 2 on p. 400 [drawing]). Perhaps these two inscriptions are closely related to each other.
ⲧⲓⲙⲓⲕⲗⲉⲟⲥ, attested several times also outside the Banganarti inscriptions, is an alternative name or
an epithet of Dongola (Nubian ⲧⲟⲩⲅⲅⲟⲩⲗ). The identification of Timikleos with Dongola was made
possible thanks to a recent discovery by Robin Seignobos (forthcoming). The French scholar was able
to identify several Copto-Arabic scalae of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, in which Nubian bishoprics
are also mentioned. In one of these scalae, Dongola is called Dunqula in Arabic and Temkli in Coptic.
The scalae are dated to the late 18th-first half of the 19th century, but they surely are based on much
earlier, most probably still medieval material.

12 (676). Eastern wall of room (chapel) 21, 52 cm away from the northern corner, 136 cm above
the floor. Dimensions: 75 x 5 cm; h. of letters: 1 cm (ⳟ) – 4 cm (ⲣ). ⲓ in ⳟⲥ︥ⲥⲓⲅⲟⲩⲛⲁ was squeezed in
between the neighbouring letters.

Ϯ ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ ⳟⲥ︥ⲥⲓⲅⲟⲩⲛⲁ ⲡⲁ̣ⲩⲟⲩⲧⲁ ⲁⲓⲉⲓ ⲧⲩⲣⲁⲧⲓ ⲁ̣ⲓ̣ⲕⲁ ⲉⲛ︥ ⲥⲉⲩⲁⲣⲧⲓⲕⲁ ⲟⲩⲫⲫⲁ ⲟⲩⲧⲣⲁ̇ ⲇⲓⲛⲉⲥⲟ.

Raphael, ruler od saints, I, Tyrati, blow, lay, give this spirit to me.
276 Adam Łajtar

The personal name ⲧⲩⲣⲁⲧⲓ occurs only here. It is probably of Nubian origin, but the exact ety-
mology is unknown to me.
ⲟⲩⲫⲫⲁ ⲟⲩⲧⲣⲁ̇ are desinenceless adjunctives coordinated by the imperative ⲇⲓⲛⲉⲥⲟ (for desinenceless
adjunctives, see Browne, G.M. 2002: § 3.9.19). For a similar construction (desinenceless adjunctive
+ imperative), see ⲕⲓⲡⲓⲛⲁ ⲟⲩⲅⲣⲉⲥⲟ occurring in the prayer to Raphael inscribed immediately above
the present inscription (Browne, G.M. 2004) and ⲡⲓⲕⲕⲁ ̣ⲅ̣ⲣⲉⲥⲱ (below, no. 13). The verb ⲟⲩⲫ(ⲫ)- has
been attested for the first time here. It is probably cognate with the Dongolawi uffe, “blow, puff,
hiss”, Nobiin ⲟⲩⲫ-, “blasen, hauchen, seufzen, schnaufen” (see Armbruster 1965: 207-208, s.v. uffe,
and Khalil 1996: [88], s.v. ⲟⲩⲫ-).

13 (309). Northern wall of room (chapel) 5, offset of the wall near its western end, eastern face
of the offset, 183.5 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.5 cm; h. of letters: 1.9 cm (ⲧ in line
4) – 5 cm (ⲓ in line 4).

Ϯ ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ
ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ ⲕ̣ⲉⲓⲥ-
ⲕⲉⲗⲓⲗⲉ ⲁⲛ
4 ⲧⲟⲧⲧⲁ ⳟⲁ-
ⲉⲓⲁ ⲇⲓⲛⲉⲥⲟ.

2-3. read ⲕⲉⲓⲥⲕⲉⲗ︥ⲓⲗⲉ

Saint Raphael, give mercy to my son.

4-5. ⳟⲁⲉⲓⲁ = ⳟⲁⲉⲓ(ⲣ)ⲁ. The meaning “salvation” is also possible.

14 (664). Eastern wall of room (chapel) 21, 35  cm away from the northern corner of the room,
182 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 63 x 9 cm; h. of letters: 1.9 cm (ⲗ) – 6.2 cm (ⲏ). There seems to
be a difference in the dynamic of the script and the height of the letters between the initial part of
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 277

the inscription consisting of the sequence † ἐγὼ ⲧⲣⲓⲥ, and the rest of the text, but the contents indicate
that we are most probably dealing with one item.

† ἐγὼ ⲧⲣⲓⲥⲫⲩ κλι(ρικὸς) γρά(ψον).

ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲗⲏ ⲧⲗⲗⲁ ⲙⲁⳡⲁ̣ⲛⲁⲕⲁ ⲡⲓⲕⲕⲁ ̣ⲅ̣ⲣⲉⲥⲱ.

1. read κληρικὸς || 2. read ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ

I, [ - - - ], cleric, wrote (this). Saint Raphael, open, [ - - - ] the eyes.

1. ⲧⲣⲓⲥⲫⲩ is strange. It is most probably a Greek word on account of ⲧⲣⲓⲥ, i.e. Greek τρίς, “thrice”,
and the presence of ⲫ, which does not occur in Old Nubian. Morphologically, it makes the impres-
sion of being a compound adjective with τρίς as the first element, recorded in an abbreviated ver-
sion. One tentatively thinks of τρισφύ(λητος), i.e. τρισφίλητος, “thrice-beloved”. The question arises
what function this supposed adjective τρισφίλητος has in our inscription. Here, after the personal
pronoun ἐγώ, one expects the name of the visitor. The adjective τρισφίλητος has not been attested as
a personal name so far and it seems rather improbable that it was even used as such. It is possible
that it occurs here in its basic function of an epithet of a person: “I, thrice-beloved cleric”. With
this interpretation, the name of the visitor is lacking but this is not unparalleled in the Banganarti
inscriptions. Or perhaps one has to look for another explanation, possibly under the assumption
of a scribal mistake.
2. The particular form ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲗⲏ also occurs in another inscription on the same eastern wall of room
21. This seems to suggest that we are dealing with a legitimate variant rather than with a mistake.
It might have come into existence in order to avoid hiatus.
ⲙⲁⳡⲁ̣ⲛⲁⲕⲁ causes problems. Here we expect ⲙⲁⳡⲁⲛ ⲧⲣⲓⲕⲁ. It looks as if the formant of the irregular plural
ⲧⲣⲓ-, literally “pair”, has been omitted here, perhaps because the author of the inscription had in mind not
his own eyes or the eyes of a single human being but eyes in general (see also the next paragraph). Even if
this is true, I am unable to explain -ⲁ- between -ⲛ- and -ⲕ-. Perhaps it is a simple mistake, hence ⲙⲁⳡⲁ̣ⲛ{ⲁ}ⲕⲁ.
ⲡⲓⲕⲕⲁ is the adjunctive of ⲡⲓⲕⲕ-, “to awake, to open”, coordinated by the imperative ̣ⲅ̣ⲣⲉⲥⲱ
(for adjunctives, see Browne, G.M. 2002: § 3.9.19) For a similar construction: adjunctive + impera-
tive, see ⲕⲓⲡⲓⲛⲁ ⲟⲩⲅⲣⲉⲥⲟ (Browne, G.M. 1994) and ⲉⲛ︥ ⲥⲉⲩⲁⲣⲧⲓⲕⲁ ⲟⲩⲫⲫⲁ ⲟⲩⲧⲣⲁ̇ ⲇⲓⲛⲉⲥⲟ (above, no. 11).
ⲡⲓⲕⲕ-, and more precisely its derivative ⲡⲓⲕⲕⲓⲅⲁⲣ-, “to cause to open”, is otherwise attested in
connection with ⲙⲁⳡ-, “eye” (cf. Browne, Plumley 1988: I 4 ii 14: ⲙⲁⳡⲁⲛ ⲧⲣⲓⲕⲁ ⲡⲕ︥ⲕⲓⲅⲁⲣⲟⲗ, which
translates ὁ ἀνοίξας τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς [Jh. 11.37]). I do not know which verb is hidden behind
̣ⲅ̣ⲣⲉⲥⲱ; one is tempted to read ⲟ̣ⲩ̣ⲅⲣⲉⲥⲟ, “hear”, but the space seems to be big enough for only one
letter. ⲡⲓⲕⲕⲓⲅⲁⲣⲉⲥⲱ, “cause (the eyes) to be open”, cannot be read unless we assume a mistake made
by the writer.

15 (750). Northern wall of room (chapel) 16, offset of the wall near the northeastern corner, 2.5 cm
away from the western edge of the offset, 111 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 60 x 37 cm; h. of
letters: 3.5 cm (ⲟ) – 12 cm (ϣ).

† ἐγὼ ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥⲛⲟⲩⲕⲧ︥ⲧⲁ
ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ ⲧⲗ︥ⲗⲁ ϣⲟⲕⲕⲁ
ⲕⲟⲩⲗⲓⲣⲉⲥⲱ ⲧⲉⳝⲁ ⲧⲟⲧ.

I, Iesousnoukitta, son of Teja. Saint Raphael, teach (me) the book.

The author of this inscription is probably identical to the author of a graffito on the western wall
of room 7. There he is called ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥⲛⲟⲩⲕⲧ︥ ⲧⲉⳝⲁ.
278 Adam Łajtar

16 (578). Southwestern support, column to the south of the pillar, southwestern and southern
face. Dimensions: 88 x 52 cm; h. of letters: 1.9 cm (ⲡ in πάντων in line 1) – 14.9 cm (Ⲝ in line 5).
Regular script rising considerably to the right in lines 1–4. Lines 6-7 and, to a smaller degree, 5 and
8-10 are much shorter than lines 1-4 and aligned with the right-hand margin. Ῥ(α)φα(ήλ) placed to
the left of line 10 most probably does not belong to this inscription. To the right of lines 5-8, there
is a drawing showing an oval with a vertical stroke at the bottom. It was probably executed by the
same person who wrote the inscription.

† Ῥαφαήλ, ἰούτορ πάντων ἀν(θρώπ)ων, σὺ τοὺς πάντ(ας) οἰκονόμεις,

κα(ὶ) νῦν περίσωσων ἐκ τῶν κυνδύνου καταβὰς τὴν Σάρραν
καὶ πολέμιον ἀντιβάλλου πάν{τ}τ(α) εἰς ἡμῶν πολεμόντον
4 καὶ νῦν ἀποσωβοῦ . Ι . . . ΤΟΥ τὸν θ(εό)ν σου αἰφνοίδιου
θάνατον (καὶ) ΕΞΕΝΟΝΟΜΟΥ
ὅπου ΔΑΝΤΑ
γληκήτατο ὄνο-
8 μά [σ]ου ἐ{πα}πικαλού`ν΄τον αὐτοῦ·
ἐμοῦ δὲ ⲡⲁⲡⲁ ⲇⲁⲛⲅ( ) Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς διάκ(ονος) καὶ Νῆσος
ⲭⲡ︦ⲑ (= Μιχαὴλ) πόλην ὁ καλ(ούμενος) ⲑⲉⲕ(ⲛⲁ) ⲅⲟⲣⲧ( )ⳟⲟⲇⲇ( ) ἰστι.

1. read ἰούτωρ || 2. read περίσωσον | read κινδύνου || 3. read πολεμόντων || 4. read ἀποσοβοῦ
| read αἰφνίδιου || 7. read γλυκύτατον || 10. read πόλιν

Raphael, helper of the whole of mankind, you administer all men, now save (us) alive from the danger(s)
(as you saved) Sarra after coming down (from Heaven) and throw out every enemy who is upon us fighting
[ - - - ] and now keep away (from us) sudden death [ - - - ] your God and [ - - - ] your sweetest name. I, Papa,
being a deacon of (the Church of) Jesus at Dang( ), and the one who is called Thegna of the town of the Island
of Michael, (and) Lord of Elders.

2. καὶ νῦν also occurs further in the text of the inscription: καὶ νῦν ἀποσωβοῦ. It looks like this
was a beloved stylistic endeavour for the author of the inscription.
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 279

The correct reading should be either ἐκ τῶν κινδύνων or ἐκ τοῦ κινδύνου. The article in the genitive
plural was mistakenly connected with the substantive in the genitive singular.
καταβὰς τὴν Σάρραν hardly fits the syntax of the inscription. Perhaps it was taken automatically
from a source, which had e.g.: ὁ καταβὰς τὴν Σάρραν σῶσαι, “You who came down (from Heaven)
in order to save Sara”.
3. The genitive ἡμῶν πολεμόντον (= πολεμόντων) is out of place here. It should be either εἰς ἡμᾶς
πολεμόντας or ἡμῖν πολεμόσιν. The Greek sytem of declension collapsed completely in late Christian
4-5. It should be ἀποσοβοῦ (ἀπ’ ἡμῶν vel sim.) τὸν αἰφνίδιον θάνατον. It is not clear to me how to
explain the mention of God between ἀποσοβοῦ and αἰφνίδιον θάνατον. Perhaps we should expect
something like ἀποσοβοῦ (ἀπ’ ἡμῶν) διὰ τοῦ θεοῦ σου τὸν αἰφνίδιον θάνατον, “keep away (from us)
through your God sudden death”.
6–8. Perhaps ὅπου δ’ ἄν τὰ (= τὸ) γληκήτατο ὄνομά [σ]ου, “where only your sweetest name”. τὸ
might have been exchanged for τὰ under the influence of ὄνομα.
9. ⲇⲁⲛⲅ( ) is perhaps to be expanded as ⲇⲁⲛⲅ(ⲟⲩⲗ). This could be a byform (or a corrupted nota-
tion) of the name of the capital of Makuria, as a rule spelled ⲧⲟⲩⲅⲅⲟⲩⲗ (= Tunggul) in Banganarti
inscriptions. But it also may refer to another place. One should observe that place names in Dang-
do occur in the Middle Nile Valley; see e.g. modern Dangeil in the Fifth Cataract area.
9–10. ⲑⲉⲕⲛⲁ or ⲑⲉⲅⲛⲁ, attested in Banganarti inscriptions and elsewhere, was an office or a function
in the territorial administration of the Kingdom of Makuria, possibly comparable to the modern
sheikh el-balad or omda. ⲑⲉⲕⲛⲁ/ⲑⲉⲅⲛⲁ apparently is of Greek origin (from τέκνον), its Old Nubian coun-
terpart could have been ⲧⲟⲧ, originally meaning “son” (cf. Łajtar 2006b: 94-101). Papa was thegna
of a town located on the “Island of Michael”. The “Island of Michael” is possibly on record in an
inscription on the eastern wall of room 11, also in connection with the word ⲑⲉⲅⲛⲁ. The toponym
“Island of Michael” (or “Islands of Michael”) is frequently mentioned in late Arabic sources describ-
ing the wars between Mamluk Egypt and Makuria, especially the Makurian war of succesion of
the 1270s/1280s. According to this material, the “Island of Michael” was situated at the head of the
Second Cataract of the Nile, at the southern border of the district governed by the Eparch of Nobadia.
Its strategic position allowed exercising control over the movements of people and goods down- and
upstream. The island boasted some villages and was seat of the officer of local administration. The
“Island of Michael” from Arabic sources is tentatively identified as modern Mei(l)narti, an island
with important Christian remains excavated by the American Mission under William Y. Adams in
the frame of the Nubian campaign (for the results of the excavations, see numerous publications
by W.Y. Adams, especially Adams 2003). It is impossible to decide if the “Island of Michael” in the
Second Cataract area is the same as the “Island of Michael” from this inscription.
In classical usage, the expression ὁ καλούμενος, “also called”, introduces the second name (nick-
name) of a person (cf. e.g. Calderini 1941). Here it probably has a slightly different meaning, close
to the English “so-called”.
ⲅⲟⲣⲧ( )ⳟⲟⲇ( ) [spelling varies] occurs several times in the Banganarti inscriptions as a designation
of different persons. It is also on record outside Banganarti, both in inscriptions and documents on
parchment and paper. ⲅⲟⲣⲧ( )ⳟⲟⲇ( ) is either a compound substantive or an attributive expression
in which the first element is rectus and the second regens. The second element of this composi-
tion surely is the word ⳟⲟⲇ(ⲇ)-, “lord” (for the meaning, see Browne, G.M. 1996a: 201, s.v.), and
the first is connected with the term ⲅⲟⲣⲧ- meaning “old” but also “Elder” (as a title or a name of
an office) (Browne, G.M.  1996a: 32, s.v.). This suggests the translation “Lord of Elders” for the
designation ⲅⲟⲣⲧ( )ⳟⲟⲇ( ), even if its exact reading remains uncertain. If ⲅⲟⲣⲧ( )ⳟⲟⲇ( ) truly means
“Lord of Elders”, a question arises who these “Elders” were and what the function of “Lord of
Elders” consisted in. In the Old Nubian translation of Ps.-Chrysostom, In venerabilem crucem sermo
15.16 (ed. Browne, G.M. 1984; for the Greek Vorlage, see Browne, G.M. 1996b), ⲅⲟⲣⲧ- renders the
Greek πρεσβύτερος. Old Nubian documents from Qasr Ibrim show “Elders” performing vari-
ous duties of an administrative and economic character, like the distribution of grain and wine
among different subjects. The word ⲅⲟⲣⲧ- has persisted as ⲅⲟ︥ⲣⲧⲓ- in modern Nobiin in the mean-
ing “Sheikh, Major, Elder” (see Khalil 1996: [31] s.v). All this suggests that persons designated
280 Adam Łajtar

as ⲅⲟⲣⲧ-, “Elder”, were officers of the local administration within the Kingdom of Makuria with
a sphere of competence probably resembling that of modern sheikh el-balad or omda. The “Elders”
of a  given area apparently formed a corporate body with the “Lord of Elders” as its head. It
could have been also a body of “Elders” representing the entire Kingdom that assisted the king.

17 (621). Eastern side of the entrance to room (chapel) 22, 10 cm from the north edge of the
entrance, 158 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 60 x 20.5 cm; h. of letters: 2.1 cm (ⲁ) – 5 cm (ⲫ); Ⲝ in
line 3 is 11 cm high. Nice script arranged in even lines.

† † σὲ τὸν ἀπεστήλεντα Ῥαφαὴλ τὸν ἀρχ(ι)έδνα εἠ[ς]

ἡμῆν γέμοντα πυλειρόσσας ἐπροσ⟨κ⟩ύνηεισα·
μὲ Δα(υὶ)δ ⲉⲕⲝⲉ Βασίλειος ⲑⲉⲅⲛⲁ̇ Πδες γρά(ψον).

1. read ἀποστείλαντα | read εἰς || 2. read ἡμῖν | read πυλωρώσας | read ἐπροσκύνησα (for
πρσεκύνησα) || 3. read Παῖδες

After I had kept the gate I paid homage to You who have sent Raphael as a gift to us being full (of ?).
I David [ - - - ], son of Basileios, of (the Church of Three) Youths, wrote this.

1. ἀπεστήλεντα is strange. Here we expect the male participle in the accusative singular, either
ἀποστέλλοντα or, more probably, ἀποστείλαντα. The form ἀπεστήλεντα extant on the wall looks
like the third person indicative of aorist active of ἀποστέλλω (ἀπέστειλεν > ἀπέστηλεν), to which the
ending of the masculine accusative singular of the third declension was added artificially. Another
possibility is that ἀπεστήλεντα is a conflation of what originally were two expressions: σὲ τὸν ἀπο-
στείλαντα Ῥαφαὴλ κτλ. and ὅς ἀπέστειλεν Ῥαφαὴλ κτλ.
ἀρχ(ι)έδνα, if correctly read, is an addendum lexicis. ἕδνα (pl.) means “bride price, wedding gifts”.
Here it must refer to God’s gifts to mankind of which Archanel Raphael is the most important one.
1-2. εἠ[ς] ἡμῆν γέμοντα (= εἰς ἡμῖν γέμοντας) is strange. It should be either εἰς ἡμᾶς γέμοντας or
ἡμῖν γέμουσιν. Perhaps we are dealing with the conflation of two expressions: one with εἰς + accu-
sative, another one with ἡμῖν + dative. Regardless of the fact whether γέμοντα stands for γέμοντας or
γέμουσιν, it lacks an attribute. One expects something like: τρόμῳ γέμοντας, “being full of trembling”.
2. πυλειρόσσας = πυλωρώσας seems to suggest that the author of the inscription fulfilled a duty
consisting in keeping a gate. This was probably a door to the Banganarti church or a gate to the entire
­Banganarti enclosure. This is strange as the inscription’s author was not connected with the church at
Banganarti, which must have been dedicated to Archangel Raphael, but with another church called the
Church of (Three) Youths. It would be interesting to know why the duty of keeping the gate was practiced in
Banganarti. Was it connected with the steering of the mass of visitors or had it to do with some menace?
It is only here that the verb προσκυνέω, “pay homage”, occurs in the Banganarti inscriptions and
in the entire Nubian Christian epigraphy. This verb and its derivative τὸ προσκύνημα were essential
for the visitors’ inscriptions in Late Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (see Geraci 1971). It should be
noted that the augment is placed before the prefix and not between the prefix and the root (ἐπρο-
σκύνησα instead of προσεκύνησα) (for fluctuation of the place of the augment in compound verbs
in post-Classic Greek, see Gignac 1981: 223-225).
3. ⲑⲉⲅⲛⲁ̇ probably means “son” here; differently in 15, line 10, where it designates an office or
a function in the territorial administration of the Kingdom of Makuria.
Παῖδες stands for Τρεῖς Παῖδες. The designation Τρεῖς Παῖδες refers to the three Hebrews from
Babylon sentenced to death in a fiery furnace and saved miraculously through the appearance
of Archangel Michael. Their cult was widespread in Egypt and also left traces in Nubia (see van
Esbrock 1991; Papaconstantinou 2001: 198-200; Rassart-Debergh 1984). In addition to this inscrip-
tion, a church of (Three) Youths is mentioned in two further inscriptions from Banganarti. It is
impossible to state whether they all refer to the same church or to different cult places, not to men-
tion the difficulties connected to attempting to establish its (their) localization.
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 281

18 (35). Eastern wall of room 11, 297 cm away from the northeastern corner, 177 cm above the
floor, between the corpus and the wing of a great figure of an archangel. Dimensions: 25 x 33 cm;
h. of letters: 2 cm (ⲉ at the end of line 1) – 9.7 cm (ⳡ).

Ϯ ⲅⲱⲏ̣̇ⲕⲉ̇
ⲟⲅⲓⳝⳝⲓⳟⲁ ̀ⲛⲉ ́
4 ⲁ̣ ̣ ̣ⲗ̣ⲩⲧⲁ
ⲧⲟⲥ ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ
ⲁⲓⲕⲁ ⲉⲣ︥ⳡⲉ-

I, Ogijjinga, came (?) to (the Church of) Raphael [ - - - ]. O Raphael, guard me.

The reading of the inscription is uncertain. The translation is tentative.

1. At the beginning, we perhaps should read ⟨ἐ⟩γὼ (through apheresis). I do not know what to do
with the following ⲏ̣̇ⲕⲉ̇. Is this the third person singular of the imperfect active of the verb ἥκω, i.e.
ἧκε, “he came”? If it really is ⟨ἐ⟩γὼ ἧκε that should be read, the personal pronoun is in disagreement
with the verbal form. The formula “I (he) came” is unusual among the Nubian visitors’ graffiti,
which as a rule do not contain a verb denoting the visit. Parallels are to be found in Greek visitors’
inscriptions from Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (see Geraci 1971: 13 and 47).
3. The personal name ⲟⲅⲓⳝⳝⲓⳟⲁ has been attested only here so far. It belongs to the group of names
composed with the word ⲟⲅⲓⳝ- (ⲟⲅⳝ︥-), “man, husband”, including also ⲟⲅⲓⳝⲏⲛⲟ, ⲟⲅⲓⳝⲡⲁⲣ, ⲕⲁⳝⲟⲅⳝ︥, and
ⲅⲓⲣⲛ︥ⲟⲅⳝ︥, all of them on record in the Banganarti inscriptions.
4-5. What is contained in these lines is difficult to read. The sequence of letters ⲗⲩⲧⲁⲧⲟⲥ makes the
impression of being Greek rather than Old Nubian. Perhaps we are dealing with a Greek adjective
in the superlative, e.g. γλυ⟨κύ⟩τατος. If so, it could be an epithet of the Archangel Raphael; compare
(τὸ) γληκήτατο ὄνομά [σ]ου in 15, lines 8-9.
6-7. ⲉⲣ︥ⳡⲉⲥⲱ = ⲉⲇ︥ⳡⲉⲥⲱ (for the frequent change of ⲣ and ⲇ in Old Nubian, see Browne, G.M. 2002: 18).
282 Adam Łajtar

19 (71). Western wall of room 11, 13 cm away from the southwestern corner, 90 cm above the
floor. Dimensions: 88 x 11.5 cm; h. of completely preserved letters in line 1: ca. 10 cm. The bottom
of the letters in line 2 has been completely damaged by water, either due to an exceptionally high
Nile flood or rainfall that filled up the church after it was abandoned.

Ϯ ⲁⲓ̈ ἄγαπος
ⲣ̣ⲁ̣ⲫ̣ⲁ̣ⲏ̣ⲗ̣ ⲙ̣ⲉⲇⳝⲟⲩ ⲡⲁⲓⲥⲉ̣ⲗ̣ⲟ̣.

I, Agapos, servant of (the Church of) Raphael, wrote (this).

1. The personal name Ἄγαπος is attested four times more in the Banganarti inscriptions.
It is also on record in a graffito in the church of Sonqi Tino: † μὲ Ἄγαπος (Μιχαὴλ) Πτα[ . . . ]
διάκ(ονος) (Laisney 2012: 608, no. 7; see also Donadoni 1975: 36; note that Donadoni doubted
in the reading Ἄγαπος and amended the name to Ἀγαθός). Another instance of the name Ἄγαπος
occurs in an inscription from Semnah: † Ἄγαπος διάκ(ονος) (LD VI 99, no. 545). Ἄγαπος is
a purely Greek formation from the root ἀγαπάω, “to love”. Interestingly, it has not been
attested as a personal name in the Greek world outside Nubia, though we know of the similar
name Ἀγαπητός.
The author of the present inscription is most probably identical with a namesake occurring in
another inscription in the Banganarti church, standing on the southern side of the entrance to room
(chapel) 5. There he is called “deacon of (the Church of) Raphael”. It looks as if ⲙⲉⲇⳝⲟⲩ, “servant”,
were a Nubian counterpart of the Greek διάκονος. One has to remember that the verb διακονέω,
which the substantive διάκονος derives from, meant originally “to minister, do service, serve”.

20 (43). Eastern wall of room 11, 250 cm away from the northeastern corner of the room, 130.5 cm
above the floor. Dimensions: 42.5 x 9.5; h. of letters: 1.8 cm (ⲟ) – 6.2 cm (ⳝ). Under the inscription,
there is a graffito with four signs containing: an inverted triangle, a human figure (?), the letter ⲓ̈,
and a cross. Perhaps it is an inscription written from right to left. The sign resembling a  human
figure would denote a sound, a syllable or a whole word in this case.
Archangel Raphael in inscriptions from the Upper Church at Banganarti 283

† ἐγὼ ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ ⲥⲟⳟⲟⳝ ⲭⲙ︥ ⲥⲟⲣⲧ̣ⲟ̣


I, Iesousnoukout, priest of (the Church of) the Leader Raphael, wrote (this).

1. Iesousnoukout, priest of the Church of the Leader Raphael, also left an inscription on the
northern side of the entrance to room 13, one metre away from the present text. Both inscriptions
probably had the same or very similar wording. Another graffito on the eastern wall of room 11
is similarly edited; however, it apparently commemorates not Iesousnoukout, but another priest
of the Church of the Leader Raphael. Perhaps both men came together to the Banganarti church.
The name ⲓⲏⲥⲟⲩⲥⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ occurs in five other inscriptions in the Banganarti church. It is also
found in visitors’ inscriptions in the churches at Kulubnarti and Sonqi Tino (unpublished; my read-
ings on the originals kept in the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum). ⲓⲏⲥⲟⲩⲥⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ belongs to
a larger group of compound names with -ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ as the second element. The group includes the
names: ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ, ⲧⲟⲥⲕⲟⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ, ⲧⲇ︥ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ (ⲧⲣ︥ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ), ⲧⲟⲩⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ, ⲙⲓⲅⲁⲗⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ, all of them
on record in the Banganarti inscriptions. The word -ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ has not been attested in Old Nubian
outside onomastics so far. It is most probably cognate with the Dongolawi nugud, “(black) slave”
(Armbruster 1965: 157, s.v. núgudi), hence ⲓⲏⲥⲟⲩⲥⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ is “slave of Jesus”. Taking into regard
frequent occurrence of names with -ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲧ in Banganarti and the absence of the word nugud in
Nobiin, which uses osh instead, one can venture a hypothesis that the names under consideration
are a local, Old Dongolawi phenomenon.

21 (493). Entrance to room (chapel) 2, northern side, 22 cm away from the western edge of the
entrance, 132 cm above the floor. Dimensions: 29 x 7.9 cm; h. of letters: 2 cm (ⲟ) – 7.9 cm (ⲁ). The
inscription is written from right to left and with mirrored letters.

Ϯ ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲕⲟ(ⲩ)ⲇ(ⲁ).

Several further inscriptions from Banganarti are written, either partially or wholly, from right to
left and with mirrored letters. This particular way of writing is also attested in visitors’ inscriptions
from Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (see Łajtar 2006c: 312 [commentary to inscription 224]). It may
be a sign of a play with writing or may have a magical connotation.