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E02424: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the construction of a chapel (termed panagios topos/'all-holy place') dedicated to a martyr Theodore (probably *Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480, or *Theodoros, martyr of Philadelphia/Amman in Jordan, S01215) in the so-called 'cathedral church' of Madaba (Roman province of Arabia/Jordan). Dated 562.

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posted on 2017-02-24, 00:00 authored by Bryan
+ ἐπὶ τοῦ ὁσιω(τάτου) καὶ ἁγιω(τάτου) ἡμῶν ἐπισκόπου Ἰωάννου +
οἰκοδομήθη ἐκ θεμελίων καὶ ἐστεγάσθη καὶ ἐψηφώθη
καὶ ἐτελιώθη ὁ πανάγ(ιος) τόπος τοῦ ἐνδόξου μάρτυ-
ρος Θεοδώρου ἐν μηνὶ Σεπτεμβρίῳ χρόνων
ἑνδεκάτ(ης) [ἰνδι]κ(τιῶνος) ἐν ἔτι τετρακοσ(ιοστῷ) πεντη[κοστῷ] ἐβδόμῳ.

5. ἑνδεκάτ(ης) [ἰνδι]κ(τιῶνος) ἐν Gatier, ἑνδεκάτ[ης] κ(αὶ) ἐν ἔτι Piccirillo

'+ Under our most venerable and most holy bishop Ioannes + the all-holy place (panagios topos) of the glorious martyr Theodoros was built from the foundations, and roofed, and paved with mosaics, and completed. In the month of September, in the times of the eleventh indiction, in the four hundred and fifty-seventh year.'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 133.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480 Theodoros, Ioulianos/Julianus, Euboulos, Malkamon, Mokimos, and Salomone/Salamanes, martyrs of Philadelphia/Amman (province of Arabia/Jordan), ob. c. 303 : S01215

Saint Name in Source

Θεόδωρος Θεόδωρος

Image Caption 1

Photograph of the mosaic panel. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XXVI.

Image Caption 2

Photograph of the mosaic panel. From: Michel 2001, 306.

Image Caption 3

Plan of the city. From: Michel 2001, 303.

Image Caption 4

Plan of the 'cathedral church' with the chapel of Theodore (a large rectangular room in its southwest corner). From: Michel 2001, 306.

Image Caption 5

Photograph of the central carpet mosaic. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XXVII.

Image Caption 6

Photograph of the mosaic panel. From: Piccirillo 1981, Foto 11.

Image Caption 7

Drawing. From: Piccirillo 1981, 306.

Image Caption 8

Photograph of the inscription with the left-hand part covered. From: Saller 1969, 161.

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)

Madaba Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Rectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata with ivy leaves in ansae. Set in the floor of the southwest chapel (usually named the 'chapel of St. Theodore') of the so-called 'cathedral church' of Madaba. Facing west. Dimensions not specified. The chapel lies at the south end of a courtyard adjacent to the western wall of the cathedral church. It is a rectangular room (16.40 m x 5.10 m) accessible through a doorway in its north wall, with no apse. The chapel was originally facing west (in contrast to the baptistery located it the north sector of the courtyard with a baptismal font at its east end) but at some point was refurbished and oriented. The panel is flanked by two vases and set at the west end of a carpet mosaic filling the interior of the chapel. That central mosaic is richly decorated with images of animals (dogs, birds), and personifications of the four Rivers of Paradise, encircled by octagons and leaves of acanthus, which were damaged in a period of iconoclasm. Line 5 of the inscribed panel and the west frame of the carpet mosaic are damaged by four rectangular holes, presumably for the legs of an altar. The section of the floor to the west of our inscribed panel (c. 1/3 of the whole room) is raised (c. 30 cm) and occupied by a squarish mosaic showing four animals (including two lions) and four perpendicular trees. The courtyard (30.50 m x 17.70 m) has two dedicatory inscriptions commemorating the construction of a cistern in 575/576 (I. Jordanie 2, nos. 135-137) and the church itself is a large three-aisled basilica (40 m x 25 m) with an apse containing a synthronon, flanked by two chambers. A mosaic panel dates its (or its aisle's) restoration to 603 (I. Jordanie 2, no. 140). The whole complex was first recorded by Gottlieb Schumacher in the late 19th c. and excavated by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in 1968, 1973, and 1979-1981. The west courtyard and our chapel were thoroughly examined only in 1980, during the third phase of the excavations, supervised by Michele Piccirillo. The right-hand part of the inscription had been published earlier, in 1969, by Sylvester Saller (with a photograph), but it were the excavations by Piccirillo and his subsequent paper on the panel (1981), which provided us with a complete text. In 1986 the inscription was republished by Pierre-Louis Gatier who suggested an altered reading of the damaged line 5, based on earlier editions and photographs.


The inscription commemorates the construction of the chapel, as a completely new establishment. It is dated according to the era of the province of Arabia, and, as its year 457 and the month of September correspond to AD 562, it is the earliest dated inscription in the cathedral complex. Line 1 mentions a certain bishop Ioannes. Gatier supposes that the same figure appears in a mosaic inscription from the church of the Apostles in Madaba (E02465) and in three inscriptions from nearby Khirbat al-Mukhayyat (E02557: Lot and Prokopios; E02552: George, and I. Jordanie 2, no. 106) dated or datable to the latter part of the reign of Justinian. He concludes that this bishop must have supervised all these works within a large-scale programme of restoration of local churches. Gatier adds that the phrasing of the inscription is pretty unusual as it does not mention any donor or lesser priest commissioned with supervising the construction. He explains this by the fact that the chapel was probably an integral part of the cathedral and thus did not require a 'complete' building inscription. The epithet used to designate the chapel, panagios/'all-holy', is also uncommon when referred to buildings. Normally it was an epithet of *Mary, Mother of Christ. As for the patron saint of the chapel, Saller who did not know the complete text, restored his name as Alexandros. His supposition proved to have been wrong when the full text was published by Piccirillo. Gatier argues that the martyr Theodoros, mentioned as the holy patron in line 4, is a local martyr of Philadelphia/Amman (see: E02395) rather than the famous soldier and martyr Theodore venerated particularly in Euchaita in north Asia Minor, but popular throughout the late-antique Near East. Piccirillo believed that our chapel was an integral part of the baptismal complex, organised around the west courtyard of the basilica. The 19th Mystagogic Catechesis ascribed to Cyril of Jerusalem says that catechumens were required to gathered in the vestibule of a baptistery, where they were facing west and were instructed that west is a domain of Satan whom they must renounce. As a sign of this renunciation they were expected to turn towards east. It was easy for Piccirillo to connect the fact that people in the chapel of Theodore prayed seemingly facing west with this ceremony. This idea was, however, questioned by Duval (who rightly pointed out that our dedicatory inscription puts emphasis on the cult of a martyr and not on baptismal rites, and that there is a chronological discrepancy between the Catecheses, probably composed in the 4th c., and our inscription: a 6th c. work), and it is approached with scepticism by Anne Michel (see Michel 2001, 308-309).


Edition: Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), no. 133. Piccirillo, M., Chiese e mosaici di Madaba (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1989), 28. (for the martyr of Amman) Piccirillo, M., "La 'cattedrale' di Madaba", Liber Annuus 31 (1981), 305-307. Saller, S., "The works of bishop John of Madaba in the light of recent discoveries", Liber Annuus 19 (1969), 145-167. 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), 305-309, no. 117. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 31, 1473.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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