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E02049: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the completion and paving of a church (naos) dedicated to *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030). Found at Riḥāb, between Bostra and Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/the Roman province of Arabia). Dated 620.

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posted on 2016-11-27, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
+ ἐν ὀμόματι τ(ῆς) ἁγίας (καὶ) ὁμοουσ(ίου) Τριάδος [ἐπὶ τ]οῦ ἁγιωτ(άτου) Πολυεύκ(του)
ἀρχιεπισκόπου ἐθεμελιώθ(η) ὁ ναὸς οὗτος τοῦ ἁγίου Στεφάνου (καὶ)
ἐψηφώθ(η) (καὶ) ἐτελιώθ(η) ἐκ πορσφορ(ᾶς) Σεργίου πρε(σβυτέρου) (καὶ)
Στρ(άτωνος?) υἱῶν Γεωργίου ἐν τῷ πατρικῷ αὐτῶν τόπῳ
Ἰωάννου Καρκουσου παραμο(ναρίου) ἐν μη(νὶ) Μαίῳ χρ(όνοις) η΄ ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) τοῦ ἔτ(ους) φιη΄

'In the name of the holy and consubstantial Trinity, in the time of the most holy Polyeuktos archbishop, was laid the foundation of this church of Saint Stephen and it was paved with mosaics and completed from the donation of Sergios, the presbyter, and Straton (?), the sons of George, in their home town, while Ioannes, (son of) Karkousos, was watchman (paramonarios), in the month of May, in the times of the eighth indiction, in the year 515.'

Text: Piccirillo 1981, 73. Trans. M. Avi-Yonah, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Riḥāb Gerasa/Jerash Bosra

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Riḥāb Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Gerasa/Jerash Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people


A mosaic panel. There is no published description and photograph. Remnants of the mosaic floors of this church were discovered in a private house, in the west sector of the town. Michele Piccirillo notes that the exact location of the church is unknown. Probably it was situated somewhere near the church of *Paul the Apostle (see: E02053 and the attached map). So far the church has not been excavated, so its shape and size are unknown. The mosaic inscription was first published by Michael Avi-Yonah in 1947 from a copy, possibly taken by Lankester Harding (Director of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan from 1936-1956), as he was the author of the copy of another mosaic inscription, used by Avi-Yonah (see: E02048). The mosaic was republished in 1981 by Michele Piccirillo, and in 2000 by Annie Sartre-Fauriat, based on the first edition.


The mosaic inscription commemorates three phases of the construction of a church dedicated to Stephen, certainly the First Martyr: the laying of its foundations, the paving of its floors with mosaics and the completion of the building (probably followed by its consecration). The church is said to be an offering of a certain presbyter Stephanos and his brother, probably named Straton. It is possible that Stephanos chose Saint Stephen as the dedicatee because he considered him as his personal patron, but this is not explicitly stated. Unlike in other dedicatory mosaic inscriptions in churches in Riḥāb, this time the donors do not say that the offering was a vow for the repose of their parents, but they stress that the church was constructed in their 'home town' (patrikos topos). The dating formula mentions archbishop Polyeuktos, metropolitan of nearby Bostra, known also from the dedicatory inscription for a local church of a martyr *Basil (built in AD 594, see: E02045), from the dedicatory inscription for a local church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), completed in AD 604 (see: E02062) and other churches in Riḥāb. The dating formula also mentions the eighth indiction year, the month of May, and the year 515 of the era of the province of Arabia. Together they correspond to May AD 620. Piccirillo notes that the church was therefore constructed under the Persian occupation of the region.


Edition: Piccirillo, M., Chiese e mosaici della Giordania settentrionale (Jerusalem: Franciscan Print. Press, 1981), 73-74. Avi-Yonah, M., "Greek Christian inscriptions from Riḥāb", The Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 13 (1947), 70. Further reading: Piccirillo, M., "The Province of Arabia during the Persian Invasion (613-629/630)", in: K.G. Holum, H. Lapin (eds.), Shaping the Middle East. Jews, Christians, and Muslims in an Age of Transition, 400-800 C.E. (Bethesda, MD: University Press of Maryland, 2011), 103. Piccirillo, M., "Aggiornamento delle liste episcopali delle diocesi in territoria transgiordanico", Liber Annuus 55 (2005), 386. Michel, A., Les églises d'époque byzantine et umayyade de Jordanie (provinces d'Arabie et de Palestine), Ve-VIIIe siècle: typologie architecturale et aménagements liturgiques (avec catalogue des monuments; préface de Noël Duval; premessa di Michele Piccirillo) (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), 216, no. 75. Sartre-Fauriat, A., "Georges, Serge, Élie et quelques autres saints connus et inédits de la province d'Arabie", in: Fr. Prévot (ed.), Romanité et cité chrétienne. Permances et mutations. Intégration et exclusion du Ier au VIe siècle. Mélanges en l'honneur d'Yvette Duval (Paris: De Boccard, 2000), 307. Piccirillo, M., "Les antiquités de Riḥāb des Benê Ḥasan", Revue Biblique 88 (1981), 65, 69. Bulletin épigraphique (1982), 465. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 30, 1711-1716; 50, 1518; 61, 1476.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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