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E02617: Two labelled capitals showing *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), and *Longinos (centurion at the Crucifixion, S00926), and unspecified *Archangels. Found at 'Aila near modern 'Aqaba, at the north end of the Gulf of 'Aqaba (Jordan/Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably 6th-7th c.

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posted on 2017-03-28, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Capital 1:

Broken and lost on top and bottom. One face shows a labelled depiction of a standing bearded man, with nimbus, dressed as a soldier in full armour with breast-plate, and holding a spear in his right hand and an oval shield in his left. The figure is flanked by an eagle or phoenix, and a palm. Other faces of the capital bear images of Archangels holding a spear in the right hand, and an orb with a superimposed cross in the left hand, flanked by eagles or phoenixes. The heads of the Archangels are damaged.

The saint is labelled: [Λο]̣γ̣γῖν(ος)/'[Lo]nginos'

Capital 2:

The capital is very similar to the preceding one, except for the fact that the decorations are inverted. The saint is labelled:


Text and description: I. Jordanie 4, nos. 144-145.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480 Longinos, the Centurion, ob. 1st c. : S00926

Saint Name in Source

Θεόδωρος Λογγῖνος

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

'Aila/'Aqaba Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image


The capitals were reportedly found at a private property. Nelson Glueck saw and photographed them in the 1930s in the courtyard of the police station at 'Aqaba. Capital 1 was also seen by Moshe Schwabe. They are now in the Museum of Amman. Revisited and re-photographed by Maurice Sartre, and by Fawzi Zayadine.


The capitals, together with fragments of a chancel screen also found at the site, are believed to be remnants of a church from a significant Christian settlement at 'Aila. Based on the labels and the images, the saints were identified as Theodore, the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, and Longinos, the centurion of the Crucifixion, by Nelson Glueck and Harold R. Willoughby, an identification that has been accepted by all who have discussed these capitals. The military outfit of the saints and Archangels, as well as the fact that both Theodore and Longinos are said in hagiographic sources to have served in the army, have attracted considerable attention. Willoughby argued that they were venerated in 'Aila, which was the garrison of the Legio X Fretensis after the reforms of Diocletian, because the site lay on the frontier of the empire, and was exposed to raids of nomadic tribes. It is, therefore probable that we have an example of the veneration of saints of military character by Roman soldiers. The occurrence of Longinos, identified by early Christians with the centurion present at the Crucifixion of Jesus, is remarkable, though, for another inscription mentioning him, again in a military context, see: E01834. Similar painted images of soldier saints were found in Avdat/Oboda in the central Negev desert (see E04164).


Edition: Zayadine, F., 'Ayla- 'Aqaba in the light of recent excavations', Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 38 (1994), 489. Piccirillo, M., The Mosaics of Jordan (Amman, Jordan: American Center of Oriental Research, 1992 [2008, 3rd ed.]), 337. 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), nos. 154 and 155. Schwabe, M., "A Greco-christian inscription from Aila", Harvard Theological Review 46 (1953), 49-55. Glueck, N., "Explorations in Eastern Palestine, III", Annual of the American School of Oriental Research 18-19 (1937-1939), 1-3. Further reading: Bagatti, B., The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine: History and Archaeology (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1971), 235, fig. 107. Figueras, P., "Monks and monasteries in the Negev desert", Liber Annuus 45 (1995), 405. 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), 420. 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), 233, no. 135. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1954), 252. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 44, 1394.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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