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E02552: Floor-mosaic with a Greek dedicatory inscription commemorating the construction of a church to *George (soldier and martyr, S00259) from the contributions of villagers and local aristocrats. Also a reliquary socket in the shape of a cross. Found at Khirbat al-Mukhayyat near Mount Nebo (Roman province of Arabia/Jordan). Dated 535/536.

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posted on 2017-03-11, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Set in three columns:

(palm) ἅγιε Γεώργιε, πρόσδηξαι
τὴν προσφορὰν κ(αὶ) τὸν κά-
ματον τοὺς ἀνθρόπους
τῆ(ς) κόμη(ς) ταύτη(ς)· καὶ ὑπὲρ
σοτηρίας κ(αὶ) προσφορᾶς Στεφάνου κ(αὶ) Ἐλία ἀδελφ(ῶν)
τήκνα Κομιτί(σσης).

ἐπὶ τοῦ ὁσιωτάτου
καὶ ἁγιωτάτου
Ἐλίου ἐπισκόπου
ἐτελιόθαι

ἐπὶ τοῦ θεοφ(ιλεστάτου) Ἰ̣ω[άννου ἐπισκόπου (?)]
ἐκτίσθ(η) κ(αὶ) ἐτηλιώ[θ(η) ὁ ἅγ(ιος) τόπ]ος
ὑπατί(ᾳ) Φλ(αουίου) τοῦ ἐνδ[οξ(οτάτου), χρ(όνων) ἰν]δι(κτιῶνος) ιδ΄
ὑπὲρ σωτ(ηρίας) Ῥαββος [οἰκονόμου τ]ῆς ἁ-
γιωτ(άτης) ἐκλισ(ίας) κ̣α[ὶ ....... πρε]σβ(υτέρου) κ(αὶ) π-
αραμοναρίου τοῦ Γ(εωργίου) ̣κ(αὶ) [....]ου

'(palm) O Saint George, accept the offering and efforts of the people of this village. And as a vow for the salvation and offering of Stephanos and Elias, brothers, children of Komitissa.'

'This was completed under the most venerable and most holy bishop Elias.'

'Under the most God-fearing [bishop Ioannes] was built and completed [this holy place (hagios topos)], during the consulate of Flavios, of gloriosissimus rank, in [the times] of the 14th indiction. As a vow for the salvation of Rabbos, [steward (oikonomos)] of the most holy church (hagiotate ekklesia) and [- - -] presbyter and guardian (paramonarios) of (Saint) George and [- - -].'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 100. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

History

Evidence ID

E02552

Saint Name

George, soldier and martyr of Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259

Saint Name in Source

Γεώργιος

Image Caption 1

Column 1. From: Saller & Bagatti 1941, Pl. 31.

Image Caption 2

Column 2 and the last line of Column 1. From: Saller & Bagatti 1941, Pl. 31.

Image Caption 3

Column 3. From: Saller & Bagatti 1941, Pl. 31.

Image Caption 4

Photograph of the reliquary socket. From: Michel 2001, 343.

Image Caption 5

Plan of the site. From: http://www.jordanjubilee.com/images2/madaba/madabaplateau/xplankhirbet.jpg

Image Caption 6

Plan of the church. From: Michel 2001, 341.

Image Caption 7

Photograph of the church with the inscription in the middle. From: Michel 2001, 341.

Image Caption 8

Photograph of the church with the inscription in the middle. From: Piccirillo & Alliata 1998, 321.

Image Caption 9

Drawing of the whole inscription. From: Piccirillo & Alliata 1998, 439.

Type of Evidence

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

Language

  • Greek

Evidence not before

535

Evidence not after

536

Activity not before

535

Activity not after

536

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Mount Nebo Khirbat al-Mukhayyat

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

Mount Nebo Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Khirbat al-Mukhayyat Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Women Aristocrats Merchants and artisans Other lay individuals/ people Officials Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Peasants

Source

Rectangular framed mosaic panel containing three text fields. H. 0.66 m; W. 3.30 m. Damaged and lost at the right-hand end. Set in the floor of the nave of the 'church of George', in front of the chancel screen. First published by Sylvester Saller in 1949 with a photograph. In 1960 new readings were suggested by Józef Tadeusz Milik. Here we follow the text as published by Pierre-Louis Gatier. For a list of alternative readings, see the editions by Gatier (1986) and Leah Di Segni (1998). The church, where the inscription was found, lies in the south section of the village, on a hill. It appears to have been built over a late Hellenistic structure which itself superseded a building dated to the Iron Age. The church was a small three-aisled basilica, shaped as a lozenge (12.10 m x 12.50 m). It had an inscribed apse flanked by two chambers. Several rooms were annexes to the west, south, and north walls of the church. In the apse the excavators found four slots for small pillars supporting the altar and a reliquary socket between them, in the shape of a cross (0.09 m x 0.20 m x 0.22 m). The socket was carved into a stone base (0.10 m x 0.55 m x 0.41 m). The floors of the church (including the 'sacristies') were paved with mosaics with geometric and floral motifs encircling panels showing animals, allegories of seasons, and vases. The mosaics had not been damaged by iconoclasts. The church was recorded only in 1935 by the Franciscan Girolamo Mihaic and examined by Sylvester Saller soon after. In 1980 the floor-mosaics were lifted and moved to the nearby basilica of Moses at Mount Nebo. The site was excavated between 1995 and 1997 by Anne Michel on behalf of the Franciscan Archaeological Institute.

Discussion

The inscription is the main dedicatory text in the building. It is also the only one of six mosaic panels from the church, which refers directly to the patron saint. Saint George is invoked in line 1 of the first column to accept the sanctuary as a common gift from local villagers and members of the elite: the brothers Stephanos and Elias, children of one Komitissa (probably a local influential woman, for example, a landowner). Strangely, their father is not named. The two were also founders of the nearby church of *Lot and *Prokopios (E02557). Columns 2 and 3 describe the circumstances of the foundation. In column two bishop Elias is mentioned. The editors note that this is almost certainly the homonymous bishop of Madaba, who appears in a dedicatory inscription from the basilica of Moses at Mount Nebo, dated 531 (I. Jordanie 2, no. 74). A narrower date can be established based on the reference to a consul that follows. The 'Consul Flavios of gloriosissmus rank', mentioned in column 3 must be the famous Justinianic general Belisarius, whose consulate fell in 535/536, which is also coherent with the 14th indiction year. Milik argued that the lacuna at the end of line 1 contained the name of the emperor Justinian, and that the church was an imperial foundation, but Gatier rejects this supposition. The inscription mentions other people involved in the construction (and subsequent management) of the church. They are probably an oikonomos/steward Rabbos, and a presbyter and paramonarios whose name is lost. Other inscriptions from the church mention more contributors (also women) and their families. Some of them appear also in the nearby church of Lot and Prokopios (E02557). A panel from the north aisle (I. Jordanie 2, no. 102) names three mosaicists: Naouma, Kyriakos, and Thomas. Here there is also one bilingual text: a dedication of one Saolas in Greek and Christian-Palestinian Aramaic (I. Jordanie 2, no. 103).

Bibliography

Edition: Di Segni, L., "The Greek Inscriptions", in: Piccirillo, M., Alliata, E. (eds.), Mount Nebo: new archaeological excavations, 1967-1997, vol. 2 (Jerusalem: Stadium Biblicum Franciscanum, 1998), 439-440, no. 36. Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), no. 100. Saller, S.J., Bagatti, B., The town of Nebo (Khirbet El-Mekhayyat): with a brief survey of other Christian monuments in Transjordan (Jerusalem: Franciscan Press, 1949), 139-140, no. 1. Further reading: Desreumaux, A., Humbert, J.-B., Thébault, G., Bauzou, Th., "Des Romains, des Araméens et des Arabes dans le Balqa' jordanien : les cas de Hadeitha - Khirbet es Samra", in: A. Borrut, M. Debié, A. Papaconstantinou, D. Pieri, J.-P. Sodini (eds.), Le Proche-Orient de Justinien aux Abassides : peuplement et dynamiques spatiales : actes du colloque "Continuités de l'occupation entre les périodes byzantine et abbasside au Proche-Orient, VIIe-IXe siècles," Paris, 18-20 octobre 2007 (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 19, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 295. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IV, La Palestine", Analecta Bollandiana 69 (1951), 73-74. 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), 340-345, no. 126. Milik, J.T., "Notes d'épigraphie et de topographie jordaniennes", Liber Annuus 10 (1959-1960), 157-159. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1952), 173.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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