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E02394: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions commemorating the restoration of a church and invoking the intercession of *Kyrikos/Quiricus (probably the child martyr of Tarsus, S00007) for the redemption of the donors. Found at El-Quweismeh/Quwaysmah in the suburbs of Philadelphia/Amman (Roman province of Arabia/Jordan). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2017-02-18, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Largely lost large framed mosaic panel. Flanked by two eagles. Set in the floor of the choir, in front of the altar. Black letters, white background.

[ἐπὶ τοῦ - - -] Θεοδο-
[- ἐπισκόπου (?) - -]
[- - - ὑπὲ]ρ σω-
[τηρίας - -]Α
[- - -]ων
[- - κα]ὶ ὑπὲρ
[σωτηρίας - -] ἐνδοξ(οτάτου)
[- - - καὶ Σ]ιλάνου ψη(φοθέτου).

7-8. ἐνδοξ(οτάτου) SEG, ἐνδόξ|[ου Gatier

'[Under the - - - bishop] Theodo[- - -] as a vow for the salvation [- - -] and for the [salvation - - -] of the most glorious [- - - and] of Silanos, the mosaicist. '

Inscription 2:

Mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. Set in the floor of the nave, close to the chancel screen. A small palm is depicted at the beginning of line 1.

ὑπὲρ σωτηρίας, ἰρήνης, μακροημε[ρεύ]-
σεως τοῦ δεσπότου ἡμῶν Στεφάνο[υ]
τριβούνου κ(αὶ) τῆς δούλης σου Ματρώνας κ(αὶ)
τέκνων αὐτῆς· εὐλόγησο(ν) αὐτούς, Κ(ύριο)ς
ὁ θ(εὸ)ς, εὐλογίαν πνευματικὴν ἐν ταῖς ἐπουρα-
νίοις εὐχαῖς τοῦ ἁγίου Κηρύκου, ἀμήν· Κ(ύρι)ε, βοήθι
τῷ δούλῳ σου Μάγνῳ κ(αὶ) συμβίῳ αὐτοῦ.

'As a vow for the salvation, peace, longevity of our lord Stephanos the tribune, and of your servant Matrona, and of her children. O Lord, God, bless them with spiritual blessing in heavenly places, through the intercessions of Saint Kerykos! Amen. Lord, help your servant Magnos and his wife!'

Inscription 3:

Mosaic panel. Set in the floor of the nave, close to the west entrance. A small palm is depicted at the beginning of line 1.

ἐπὶ τοῦ Μαξίμου πρ(ε)σβ(υτέρου) ἀνονεώθη <ὁ ἅ>γιος τό-
πος· Κ(ύρι)ε, συνχώρησ<ο>ν τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτοῦ· ἀμή(ν).

1. ἁ ὅγιος mosaic || 2. συνχώρησαν mosaic

'Under the presbyter Maximos this holy place was restored. Forgive his sins! Amen.'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, nos. 54a-c with lightly modified readings in SEG.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyrikos, 3rd c. child martyr in Tarsus, son of *Julitta : S00007

Saint Name in Source


Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XIV.

Image Caption 2

Inscription 2. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XIV.

Image Caption 3

Inscription 3. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XIV.

Image Caption 4

Plan of the church. From: Michel 2001, 292.

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


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Philadelphia/Amman Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers Officials Women Children Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people


The inscriptions were found in a ruined church (the so-called 'upper church'), on a hill in El-Quweismeh/Quwaysmah, the southeast suburbs of Amman. The site was discovered by a local in 1982. The church was excavated the same year by a joint mission of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Franciscan Archaeological Institute under the supervision of Fawzi Zayadine and Michele Piccirillo. The church was a three-aisled basilica (17.40 m x 10.40 m) with an apse flanked by two chambers. The apse had a synthronon. At some point the nave and the north aisle were separated by a wall, probably as a result of the reduction of the size of the church. The church was richly decorated with mosaic floors. The apse had a semicircular mosaic with a vase flanked by two birds. The central rectangle of the apse was almost completely occupied by our Inscription 1 (of which only the right-hand end of the text, with eagles flanking it, was preserved). The mosaic carpet of the nave contained our Inscription 2 and 3, respectively at the east and west end of its inner rectangle, with geometric patterns between them. The frame was decorated with images of running animals and people encircled by acanthus tendrils. Many of them were damaged in a period of iconoclasm. At the west end of the nave there was a separate squarish panel. The north aisle had a mosaic carpet with sophisticated geometric patterns, which at some point was refurbished. A tomb was also placed in that aisle, and a part of the mosaic was destroyed. The inscriptions were first mentioned by Piccirillo in his 1984 report of the excavations; a proper edition, by Pierre-Louis Gatier, followed in 1986 in Inscriptions de la Jordanie. Gatier used photographs taken by Piccirillo and did not himself see the mosaics.


Inscription 3 commemorates the restoration of the church at an unspecified moment. Inscriptions 2 and 3 refer probably to the paving with mosaics of the apse and the nave (as a mosaicist is mentioned in the last line of Inscription 1), but we cannot say whether they come from the same period as Inscription 3 or from an earlier phase of the existence of the church. Gatier argues that all three texts are of a contemporary date, based on the shapes of their letters. For us, the most interesting is Inscription 2. It records a vow for the salvation of a local landlord Stephanos and a certain Matrona (his sister?) with her children. For a similar dedicatory formula, see: E02381. It is striking that the children are described only as those of Matrona, and not of Stephanos, which makes it implausible that we have here a married couple, rather than siblings or unrelated persons. The proper dedicatory formula is followed by an invocation of the intercession of Saint Kerykos. The formula is unique, as the saint is asked to intercede for their εὐλογία πνευματική ἐν ταῖς ἐπουρανίοις/'spiritual blessing in heavenly places', which is a metaphor of redemption. The phrasing draws from a passage from the Epistle to the Ephesians (1.3): εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ/'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ'. The last clause contains an invocation of God's help for a certain Magnos and his wife, possibly minor contributors. Though the church is normally termed the 'upper church', it is also sometimes referred to as the 'church of Kerykos', based on Inscription 2. But, since the principal dedicatory inscription of the building (Inscription 1) is largely destroyed, we cannot be certain that the sanctuary was really dedicated to this saint. The identity of Kerykos is also not certain, but he could well be Kyrikos/Quiricus, the child martyr of Tarsus in Cilicia. Hagiographical texts describe him as a martyr with his mother Ioulitta/Julitta, though the latter rarely occurs in inscriptions mentioning her son. For another sanctuary of Kerykos in Philadelphia (venerated together with a certain Theodore, possibly a local martyr), see: E02395. Dating: Our inscriptions do not contain any dating formula. Perhaps there was one in Inscription 1, but if so, the passage is now completely lost. Inscription 1 perhaps contains a reference to a bishop Theodosios. Another Theodosios, bishop of Philadelphia, appears in mosaic inscription dated probably to AD 502/503 (I. Jordanie 2, no. 56). That inscription commemorates the paving of a church under the supervision of the deacon Silanos. A person bearing the same name occurs in our Inscription 2, but is described as a mosaicist. Thus the possible identity of the two figures is not clear and Gatier argues against it. A date in the early 6th c. is also incompatible with the stylistical dating of the mosaic ornamentation and the shape of the apse, which were placed by the excavators in the late 6th c.


Edition: Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), nos. 54a-c and Pl. XIV. 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), 293-294, no. 112. Piccirillo, M., 'Le chiese di Quweismeh-Amman', Liber Annuus 34 (1984), 334-340. Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 880. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 34, 1514-1516.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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