Among the many unique objects found in the Sion Treasure were flat and folded sections of silver that could be identified as the top and the inscribed edges of an altar. Like so many elements in the Sion Treasure, this contributes appreciably to archaeological and art historical data known concerning altars from the early Byzantine period. The undecorated surface sections were found rolled up while the inscribed edges of the table top had been carefully flattened and folded. These conditions required the intervention of a master conservator, familiar with the tensile limitations of ancient silver, to unfold and cautiously reform the individual sections in order to restore an accurate impression of the altar. Surprisingly, nails made of silver had been found in the Treasure, and these were found to fit holes on the underside of the inscribed pieces, securing their attachment to the altar’s original supporting core. Today, these are displayed separately.
For purposes of display, a narrow end of the altar was restored, made up of one top section and the inscribed edges around it. This single long sheathing is from the rim of the right short side of an altar table and bears part of the inscription in Greek in repoussé letters. It is mitred at both the left and right sides, and was folded around a rim rectangular in section; there are twenty-eight nail holes along the lower edge through which it was fastened with silver nails (see BZ.1963.36.30). Areas of soft solder survive on the back edges and on the front of the mitred edges. When complete, the entire inscription revealed that it had been dedicated by a bishop Paregoros. We do not know the relationship of this bishop to bishop Eutychianos, the major donor of the Sion Treasure.
The inscription, in repoussé, reads:
+Paregoros, most humble bishop, offers [this] to Christ the True God for the memory and repose of his parents, and brothers, and their children (nieces and nephews), and Nicholas, Se[sic] Severus, and Apphianos, the lector+
I. ?ev?enko, "The Sion Treasure: The Evidence of the Inscriptions," in Ecclesiastical Silver Plate in Sixth-Century Byzantium: Papers of the Symposium held May 16-18, 1986, at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, and Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., ed. S.A. Boyd and M.M. Mango (Washington, D.C., 1992), 39-56, esp. 39 n. 2, 49 n. 77, 50 n. 80.
S. A. Boyd, "A 'Metropolitan' Treasure from a Church in the Provinces: An introduction to the Study of the Sion Treasure," in Ecclesiastical Silver Plate in Sixth-Century Byzantium: Papers of the Symposium held May 16-18, 1986, at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, and Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., ed. S.A. Boyd and M.M. Mango (Washington, D.C., 1992), 5-37, esp. 5, 12, 18 n. 87, 32-33, 39 n.2, fig. S60.1-S63.1; S60.2; S61.1-4, checklist nos. 60-61.
S. Boyd, "Literary Evidence for Silver Tomb Revetments in the Early Christian Period," in Thymiama: Ste Mneme tes Laskarinas Boura 1 (Athens, 1994), 35-38, fig. 17-18.
G. Bühl, ed., Dumbarton Oaks: The Collections (Washington, D.C., 2008), 90-92, pl. p. 93.
Purchased from George Zacos (dealer) by Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, Switzerland, 1963.
Given by Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss to Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., 1963.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.