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E02053: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the completion and paving of a church (naos) dedicated to *Paul (the Apostle, S00008). Found at Riḥāb, between Bostra and Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/the Roman province of Arabia). Dated 596.

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posted on 2016-11-28, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
+ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιωτ(άτου) κ(αὶ) μακαριω(τάτου) Πολύευκτου ἀρχιεπισκόπου
(καὶ) Βάσσου εὐλαβ(εστάτου) παραμοναρ(ίου) ἐψηφόθη κ(αὶ) ἐτελιώθη
οὗτος ὁ ναòς τοῦ ἁγίου Παύλου ἐκ προσφορᾶς Ἰωάννου
<καὶ> Ἠλίου τῶν Μαρτυρίου ἐν μη(νὶ) Ἰουνίου χρ(όνων) ιγ΄ ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ἔτους υϙ΄ τῆς ἐπαρχίας

'+ Under the most holy and most blessed archbishop Polyeuktos and the most pious guardian (paramonarios) Bassos this church (naos) of Saint Paul was paved with mosaics and completed from the offering of Ioannes and Elias, (sons) of Martyrios, in the month of June, in the times of the 13th indiction, in the year 490 of the province.'

Text: Piccirillo 1981, 78-79. Translation: P. Nowakowski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008

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

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


Weathered rectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata with semicircular ansae containing images of small plants with double leaves. Dimensions are not specified. Situated in the south aisle in front of the south side of the chancel screen. Remnants of the church and its floor-mosaics were discovered partially in a private house, in the northwest sector of the town, between the church of the Holy Wisdom/Hagia Sophia (E02062) and the church of *Stephen the First Martyr (E02049). The church appears to have been a three-aisled basilica with an apse and two 'sacristies' (dimensions are not specified). The central mosaic floor, consisting of octagonal panels, circles, and circular lines, is identical with that of the Church of the Holy Wisdom. One of the panels contains a labelled depiction of a man wearing a cloak, which was destroyed presumably in a period of iconoclasm. The figure is labelled Σόμμα | Ἰωάνν[ου] which, according to Michele Piccirillo, is a personal name: Summus, son of Ioannes. Piccirillo notes that a certain Summus held the post of dux of Palestine in 531, but whether he was an ancestor of our Summus is unclear. The dedicatory mosaic inscription of this church was first published by Michele Piccirillo in 1981, in Revue Biblique, and then republished by the same author in his corpus, Chiese e mosaici della Giordania settentrionale. In 2000 the inscription was reprinted by Annie Sartre-Fauriat, based on the first edition.


The inscription commemorates the paving and the completion of our church under Polyeuktos, metropolitan of nearby Bostra, known also from other dated mosaics from Riḥāb (E02045: church of an unspecified martyr *Basil, AD 594; E02062: church of the Holy Wisdom, AD 604; E02049: church of *Stephen the First Martyr, AD 620; E02054: church of Peter the Apostle, AD 623; E02637, the church *John the Baptist, AD 604 or 619). Our inscription is dated to the 490th year of the era of the province of Arabia. Together with the 13th indiction year this date corresponds to AD 596, i.e. our church was completed soon after the church of Basil. The church was dedicated to Saint Paul, almost certainly the Apostle. His companion, Peter, was also venerated in the town, but the church dedicated to him was constructed not until 27 years after the shrine of Paul. Michele Piccirillo supposes that the cult of both saints was brought here from nearby Gerasa/Jerah where they were venerated in the same sanctuary (see: E02366). The church of Paul was built from a donation of two brothers: Ioannes and Elias, sons of Martyrios. A certain Martyrios is mentioned in the dedicatory mosaic from the local church of Mary in 533 (E02051), but he is unlikely to be the father of our donors, as he lived 63 years before their donation. Piccirillo notes that the first of the brothers, Ioannes, might be one of two homonymous people (Ioannes the monk and sacristan, or Ioannes the deacon) mentioned in the dedicatory mosaic from the church of the Holy Wisdom, as its date is very close to ours. Also, the dating formula of our mosaic mentions a certain paramonarios Bassos, while a man named Bassos, but with no specific function, appears in the inscription from the church of Basil (E02045). Whether he is to be identified with our founder is disputed. Interestingly, the local church of Peter was also built by a son of a certain Martyrios (Georgios), see E02054. His possible kinship with our founders is, nonetheless, not clear.


Edition: Piccirillo, M., Chiese e mosaici della Giordania settentrionale (Jerusalem: Franciscan Print. Press, 1981), 78-79. Piccirillo, M., "Les antiquités de Riḥāb des Benê Ḥasan", Revue Biblique 88 (1981), 65-66. Further reading: 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), 217-219, no. 78. Piccirillo, M., "Aggiornamento delle liste episcopali delle diocesi in territoria transgiordanico", Liber Annuus 55 (2005), 386. 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), 309. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1982), 465. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 30, 1711-1716; 50, 1518.

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