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E02663: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the paving of an oratory (eukterion) dedicated to *Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia, S00705). Found at Zaghrit near Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/Roman province of Arabia). Dated 542/543.

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posted on 2017-04-05, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
+ ἐπὶ τοῦ ὁσιωτάτου καὶ μακαριωτάτου ἡμῶν ἐπισκόπου Παύλου ἀνενεώθη
καὶ γνησίως διεκοσμήθη τὸ σεπτὸν τοῦτο εὐκτήριον τῆς ἁγίας Σοφίας
ἐκ προσφορας ὧν ὁ Κύριος γινώσκει τὰ ὀνόματα, διὰ Ἰωάννου εὐλαβεστάτ(ου)
πρεσβυτέρου καὶ παραμο̣ν[αρίου, τοῦ ἔτους] εχ́΄, χρόνων ἕκτης ἰνδικτιõνος

'+ Under our most venerable and most blessed bishop Paulos was restored and decently decorated this reverend oratory (eukterion) of the Holy Wisdom. From the offering of those whose names the Lord knows, through the most humble presbyter and guardian (paramonarios) Ioannes, [in the year] 605, in the times of the sixth indiction.'

Text: SEG 53, 1890. Translation: P. Nowakowski.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sophia, personified Holy Wisdom : S00705

Saint Name in Source


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

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gerasa/Jerash Zaghrit

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

Gerasa/Jerash Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Zaghrit Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people


Mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. There is no published description. Set in the floor of the nave, in front of the chancel screen of the ruined church in Zaghrit. The church lies on a terrace on the slope of a mountain, sited to the west of Jerash. It belonged to a small rural monastery excavated in 2003 by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, under the supervision of Abd al-Rahim Hazim (the inspector of antiquities of Jerash). The church was a three-aisled basilica with an apse. A room, identified by the excavators as the service chamber/diakonikon, was annexed to the south wall. The aisles were decorated with geometric mosaics, and the nave with a carpet mosaic showing vine scrolls, full size images of personifications of the Seasons, pastoral and hunting scenes, and a labelled image of the presbyter and paramonarios Ioannes (mentioned in our inscription). The figurative depictions were damaged in a period of iconoclasm. The inscription was first published in 2003 by Abd al-Rahim Hazim as an English translation accompanied by several photographs. A transcription was offered soon after by the editors of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 53, 1890, based on the published images.


The inscription commemorates the paving of the church (termed: 'oratory'/eukterion) in which it was found. The sanctuary was dedicated to Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia). We have no reason to suggest that this abstract entity was venerated as a personification of God's Wisdom, that is a female saint, and the dedication of this church is interesting in the context of the generality of churches of the south Syria and Jordan. It is noteworthy that another church dedicated to Holy Wisdom was constructed in our region, in Riḥāb between Gerasa/Jerash and Bostra in 604 (E02062), and yet another at Izra/Zorava near Bostra in 601/602 (E02108). Although not dedicated to a saint, we have no hesitation including this interesting inscription in our database. The date, which is computed according to the era of the province of Arabia, corresponds to AD 542/543, and suggests that bishop Paulos is the homonymous bishop of Jerash appearing in a number of dedicatory inscriptions between 526 and 542/543, for example: in the mosaic inscription from an unnamed martyr shrine/the so-called church of *Prokopios (E02365; AD 526/527), from the so-called 'church of the Synagogue' (AD 530), and from a prison (SEG 35, 1571; AD 539/540).


Edition: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 53, 1890. Hazim, A., "The church of Haghia Sophia in the territory of the City of Gerasa", Liber Annuus 53 (2003), 437-439 and Pl. 37-42. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2006), 487.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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