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E02592: Greek inscriptions on a capital, once believed to have mentioned a church dedicated to the 'martyr Makarios' but actually recording the name of a donor. Found at Safut, between Jerash and Philadelphia/Amman (province of Arabia/Jordan). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2017-03-22, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
The village of Safut was first visited by Hugo Gressmann who in his report from the journey, published in 1908, claimed that he had seen there a ruined ancient church and an inscription dedicated to Saint Makarios ('Eine Inschrift erinnerte an den "Märtyrer Makarios"').

In 1937 Roland De Vaux and Pierre Benoit passed through the village, where they came across the ruins of a church and a monumental lintel which they photographed; but they were unable to find the inscription described by Gressmann. In spite of that, the inscription was included in a list of Christian monuments from the region, published in 1949 by Sylvester Saller and Bellarmino Bagatti, and was mentioned by Michele Piccirillo in The Mosaics of Jordan of 1992 (described as an 'inscribed lintel', although Gressman did not describe the shape of the stone; it must have been confused with the lintel seen by De Vaux and Benoit).

It is highly probable that the supposition that a certain Saint Makarios was venerated in Safut is the result of a corrupted reading of the inscription. In 1908 Gustaf Dalman independently published a capital from Safut bearing the following dedication: Μαρτύρις Μακαρίου <κ>α<ὶ> <τ>ὰ τέκνα/'Martyrios, (son) of Makarios, and (his) children' (later re-published by Pierre-Louis Gatier in I. Jordanie 2, no. 5). This capital is now lost, but we think that it must have been the object originally seen by Gressmann who misunderstood the name of the donor and accidentally read it as '(the church) of the martyr Makarios'.


Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements


  • 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

Gerasa/Jerash Philadelphia/Amman Safut

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

Gerasa/Jerash Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Philadelphia/Amman Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Safut Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)


Edition: Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), no. 5. 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), 225, no. 48. De Vaux, R., "Exploration de la région de Salṭ", La Revue biblique (1938), 417-418, no. 45 and Pl. XXI 2. Gressmann, H., "Durch das Ostjordanland", Palästinajahrbuch 4 (1908), 126. Dalman, G., "Studien aus dem Deutschen evang. archäolog. Institut zu Jerusalem. 13. Topographische Notizen zum Wege nach Petra", Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins 31 (1908), 268. 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), 424. Piccirillo, M., The Mosaics of Jordan (Amman, Jordan: American Center of Oriental Research, 1992 [2008, 3rd ed.]), 315.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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