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E02599: Greek inscription commemorating the construction of an unnamed martyr shrine (martyrion), possibly at a monastery. Found possibly in al-Rasif on the Edom Plateau, to the south of Buseira (ancient Bosor in Edom), near Petra or in Arindela/Gharandal (south Jordan/Roman province of Palaestina III). Dated possibly 607/608 or 786 or 788.

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posted on 2017-03-24, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The inscription is known only through two faulty copies, and various different readings have been suggested. Here we follow the edition by Maurice Sartre, which is, however, not satisfactory. For other readings, see: I. Jordanie 4, no. 115.

τὸ καλὸν μαρτύριον ΑΧΙΣ ἐγέ[νετο]
καὶ δικαίων κοιμητήριον ΑΧΙΣ
Λεοντίου Ἰ(ω)ά(ν)νου ἐπισκόπου ἐν-
το<λ>έου, τ(οῦ) κ(ατὰ) τῶν μαρτύρων βφ΄

'This beautiful martyr shrine (martyrion) (- - -) was completed (?) and the tomb of the righteous ones (- - -). Of Leontios, envoy (?) of bishop Ioannes (?), (in the year) 502 of the era of the martyrs.'

Text: I. Jordanie 4, no. 115.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060 Unnamed ascetics (or name lost) : S00117

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

al-Rasif Petra Buseira in Edom Arindela

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

al-Rasif Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Petra Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Buseira in Edom Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Arindela Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


Stone lintel. H. 0.50 m; W. 1.80 m. Letter height 0.05 m. Fine carving. The inscription occupies the whole front face. There is no published drawing or photograph. Now seemingly lost. First seen on the doorway of a ruined church by Siméon Vailhé during his journey to Petra. Vailhé published a transcription with some comments in 1897. Soon after, the site was revisited by Marie-Joseph Lagrange who took a better copy of the inscription and forwarded it for publication to Jean Germer-Durand in 1898. Based on that copy, it was republished by Siméon Vailhé in 1899 (he also mentions a squeeze) and by Maurice Sartre in 1993. Sartre was unable to find it. Probably lost. Sartre placed the find-spot in modern Al-Rasif. Gatier (2011, 15), argues for Arindela/Gharandal.


The interpretation of the inscription is very problematic. It is plausible that a martyr shrine (martyrion) is mentioned in line 1, a tomb (koimeterion) of the 'righteous ones' in line 2, and a bishop in line 3. Lines 3 and 4 probably contain a dating formula. The word martyrion in line 1 is followed probably by the sequence of letters ΑΧΙΣΕΓΕ. Vailhé who originally read only a shorter sequence, ΑΧΙ, suggested that this was a reference to a martyr shrine of one Saint Achilles or that it might have been the name of a village where the shrine was located. Based on the copy by Lagrange, Germer-Durand opted for the second possibility and argued that we have here an otherwise unattested toponym, Achis/Ἀχίς, and that some 'Righteous Ones of the village of Achis' are mentioned in line 2. He concluded that Achis must have been a bishopric, possibly to be identified with ancient Augustopolis which is always mentioned between Petra and Arindela on lists of episcopal sees. As to the letters between lines 3 and 4, both Vailhé and Germer-Durand read there the 'word' ΕΝΤΟΜΕΟΥ, which Vailhé considered to be the name of a bishopric, and Germer-Durnad as the second name of bishop Leontios (Entomeos), mentioned in line 3. In his second paper on the inscription, Vailhé offered further, very long and dubious considerations, on both the location of 'Achis' and the name of the bishop. The comments of the first two editors were criticised by Clermont-Ganneau and Maurice Sartre. Clermont-Ganneau argued that the expression ΜΑΡΤΥΡΙΟΝΑΧΙΣΕΓΕ may actually stand for μαρτύριον ἁ(γ)ί(ου) Γε[ωργίου/'martyr shrine of Saint George', but the abbreviations he saw here would be very unusual. Maurice Sartre actually suspends judgement, but notes that the interpretation of ΑΧΙΣ as the name of a bishopric and ΕΝΤΟΜΟΥ as a personal name are implausible. He suggests that lines 3-4 may refer to Leontios, an envoy (ἐντολεύς) of bishop Ioannes (whose name he reconstructs in l. 3). The text is indeed puzzling, and we find it very difficult to interpret it on the basis of the published transcriptions. One must, however, note, that the sequence ΑΧΙΣ could be understood as a habitual abbreviation of the word μοναχός/'monk' or one of its derivatives. Therefore, it is possible that the inscription may refer to some pious monks, or to a burial place of monks. Dating: Line 4 seems to contain an era year: 502. Vailhé already supposed that the so-called era of the martyrs, very popular in Egypt, was used here. The dates of that era are normally calculated from the accession of Diocletian (284) or the establishment of his Tetrarchy (286). Consequently, its year 502 would correspond to AD 786 or 788. The problem is that this era is scarcely attested outside Egypt, and Gatier 2011, 15 does not believe that it was used in the present text. Another possibility is that the inscription uses the era of the province of Arabia, which means that it dates to AD 607/608. This view is, however, usually rejected by present-day scholars. For the dating, see also Di Segni 2006-2007, 114, note 4, and Gatier 2011, 15.


Edition: Sartre, M., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 4: Pétra et la Nabatène méridionale du Wadi al-Hasa au golfe de 'Aqaba (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1993), no. 115. Vailhé, S., "Deux évêchés de Palestine", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 8 (1899), 386-390. Germer-Durnad, J., "Rectifications", Échos d'Orient 1 (1897-1898), 117 (after a copy by Lagrange). Vailhé, S., "Voyage à Pétra (suite)", Échos d'Orient 1 (1897-1988), 73. Further reading: Clermont-Ganneau, Ch., "La province d'Arabie", Recueil d'archéologie orientale 6 (1905), 327-329. Di Segni, L., "The use of chronological systems in sixth-eighth centuries Palestine", Aram 18-19 (2006-2007), 114, note 4; 119, note 27. Gatier, P.-L., "Inscriptions grecques, mosaïques et églises des débuts de l'époque islamique au Proche-Orient (VIIe-VIIIe) siècles", 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), 15.

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