A cursory search of the Internet brought me this list of quotations from various patristic sources:
Righteous Job the Long-Suffering (1000 – 300 BC)
If there shall be an angel speaking for him . . . He shall have mercy on him, and shall say: Deliver him, that he may not go down to corruption" (Job xxxiii, 23).
Book of Tobit (~ 200 – 100 BC)
When thou didst pray with tears… I [Archangel Raphael] offered thy prayer to the Lord. (Tobit xii, 12)
St. John the Evangelist (+101)
And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel. (Apoc., viii, 3, 4)
St. Cyprian of Carthage (+258), writing to Pope Cornelius of Rome
Let us be mutually mindful of each other, let us ever pray for each other, and if one of us shall, by the speediness of the Divine vouchsafement, depart hence first, let our love continue in the presence of the Lord, let not prayer for our brethren and sisters cease in the presence of the mercy of the Father.[iv]
St. Hilary of Poitiers (+368)
To those who would fain stand, neither the guardianship of saints nor the defences of angels are wanting.[v]
St. Ephraim the Syrian (+373)
Remember me, ye heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ, supplicate the Saviour earnestly for me, that I may be freed though Christ from him that fights against me day by day.[vi]
Ye victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Saviour; ye who have boldness of speech towards the Lord Himself; ye saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us that so we may love him.[vii]
St. Athanasius the Great, Patriarch of Alexandria (+373)
Christ became man that men might become gods[viii]
“In one of his letters, St. Basil [the Great] explicitly writes that he accepts the intercession of the apostles, prophets and martyrs, and he seeks their prayers to God. (Letter 360) Then, speaking about the Forty Martyrs, who suffered martyrdom for Christ, he emphasizes that they are common friends of the human race, strong ambassadors and collaborators in fervent prayers. (Chapter 8)
“St. Gregory of Nyssa asks St. Theodore the Martyr …to fervently pray to our Common King, our God, for the country and the people (Encomium to Martyr Theodore).
“The same language is used by St. Gregory the Theologian in his encomium to St. Cyprian. St. John Chrysostom says that we should seek the intercession and the fervent prayers of the saints, because they have special "boldness" (parresia), before God. (Gen. 44: 2 and Encomium to Julian, Iuventinus and Maximinus, 3).”[ix]
St. Basil the Great, of Caesarea in Asia Minor (+379)
According to the blameless faith of the Christians which we have obtained from God, I confess and agree that I believe in one God the Father Almighty; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost; I adore and worship one God, the Three. I confess to the economy of the Son in the flesh, and that the holy Mary, who gave birth to Him according to the flesh, was Mother of God. I acknowledge also the holy apostles, prophets, and martyrs; and I invoke them to supplication to God, that through them, that is, through their mediation, the merciful God may be propitious to me, and that a ransom may be made and given me for my sins. Wherefore also I honour and kiss the features of their images, inasmuch as they have been handed down from the holy apostles, and are not forbidden, but are in all our churches.[x]
We beseech you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered torments and death for his love, and are now more familiarly united to him, that you intercede with God for us slothful and wretched sinners, that he bestow on us the grace of Christ, by which we may be enlightened and enabled to love him.[xi]
O holy choir! O sacred band! O unbroken host of warriors! O common guardians of the human race! Ye gracious sharers of our cares! Ye co-operators in our prayer! Most powerful intercessors![xii]
Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
By the command of Thine only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of Thy saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of Thy holy name which is invoked upon us.[xiii]
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386)
We then commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God, by their prayers and intercessions, may receive our petitions.[xiv]
St. Gregory the Theologian, Patriarch of Constantinople; of Nazianzus in Asia Minor (+389)
Mayest thou [Cyprian] look down from above propitiously upon us, and guide our word and life; and shepherd [or shepherd with me] this sacred flock . . . gladdening us with a more perfect and clear illumination of the Holy Trinity, before Which thou standest.[xv]
St. Gregory of Nyssa in Lower Armenia (+395-400)
...I wish to commemorate one person who spoke of their noble testimony because I am close to Ibora, the village and resting place of these forty martyrs' remains. Here the Romans keep a register of soldiers, one of whom was a guard ordered by his commander to protect against invasions, a practice common to soldiers in such remote areas. This man suffered from an injured foot which was later amputated. Being in the martyrs' resting place, he earnestly beseeched God and the intercession of the saints. One night there appeared a man of venerable appearance in the company of others who said, "Oh soldier, do you want to be healed [J.167] of your infirmity? Give me your foot that I may touch it." When he awoke from the dream, his foot was completely healed. Once he awoke from this vision, his foot was restored to health. He roused the other sleeping men because he was immediately cured and made whole. This men then began to proclaim the miracle performed by the martyrs and acknowledged the kindness bestowed by these fellow soldiers…. We who freely and boldly enter paradise are strengthened by the [martyrs'] intercession through a noble confession in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.[xvii]
Do thou, [St. Ephraim the Syrian] that art standing at the Divine altar, and art ministering with angels to the life-giving and most Holy Trinity, bear us all in remembrance, petitioning for us the remission of sins, and the fruition of an everlasting kingdom.[xviii]
St. Ambrose of Milan (+397)
May Peter, who wept so efficaciously for himself, weep for us and turn towards us Christ's benignant countenance.[xix]
St. Jerome, b. Dalmatia, d. Palestine (+419)
If the Apostles and Martyrs, while still in the body, can pray for others, at a time when they must still be anxious for themselves, how much more after their crowns, victories, and triumphs are won! One man, Moses, obtains from God pardon for six hundred thousand men in arms; and Stephen, the imitator of the Lord, and the first martyr in Christ, begs forgiveness for his persecutors; and shall their power be less after having begun to be with Christ? The Apostle Paul declares that two hundred three score and sixteen souls, sailing with him, were freely given him; and, after he is dissolved and has begun to be with Christ, shall he close his lips, and not be able to utter a word in behalf of those who throughout the whole world believed at his preaching of the Gospel? And shall the living dog Vigilantius be better than that dead lion?[xx]
St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople; b. Antioch, Syria (+407)
When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies . . . but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power [parresian, "boldness of speech"].[xxi]
He that wears the purple, laying aside his pomp, stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God; and he that wears the diadem begs the Tent-maker and the Fisherman as patrons, even though they be dead.[xxii]
St. Augustine of Hippo, in North Africa (+430)
At the Lord's table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps.[xxiii]
One would expect the Masoretic Old Testament to have little support for prayer requests to the dead, as opposed to prayer requests for the dead, since (is this correct?) the notion of resurrection was a later introduction to Judaism in preparation for the coming of Christ. Indeed, the Psalmist declares
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5)
Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
Indeed death held illimitable dominion over all, even the righteous, before the glorious victory of our Lord Jesus. But now even (or especially) Christian children spit upon death as upon a miscreant pilloried, or better, a great foe vanquished and made impotent. Death is now (among other things) an entrance into new life, life in Christ.
I suspect the main basis for this practice is that "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us." After doing the work of God (viz. liturgy, specifically communing) at the tombs of the martyrs (or today, celebrating the liturgy upon the relics of saints), it is not farfetched to give death the finger by submitting prayer requests to these "dead," now made alive in Christ Jesus (presuming they've made it there). Indeed, the revelation of John tells us that departed saints continue to pray; it is then not farfetched to hope that they might hear our petitions and pray for what we ask. Indeed, now that they are truly baptized with the baptism with which He has been baptized, it's that much more easy to ask them to intercede for us than it is to ask those still in the flesh to pray for us. Petitioning the saints comes from knowledge in the Spirit that they will know what we ask, and pray for us accordingly.
Assuredly, however, a more detailed and specifically history/archaeology-based answer to your question would be more appropriate than such speculation. I hope the list above is helpful.
This all represents my understanding of the practice of veneration of and petitioning to the saints who have died, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian.