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E02664: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions from the sanctuary (hagios topos) of *Lot (Old Testament patriarch, S01234) commemorating the restorations of mosaic pavements in 572/573, 605 or 607, and 692. Found at Deir 'Ain 'Abata near Zoara/modern Ghor es-Safi on the southeast shore of the Dead Sea (Jordan/Roman province of Palaestina III).

online resource
posted on 2017-04-06, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Medallion encircled by a vine scroll springing from 'a large urn'. Diameter 1.11 m. Letter height 0.05-0.10 m. Letters: black and red tesserae, white-yellowish background. Set in the floor of the narthex. Text A is within the medallion, while Text B, the name of a mosaicist, is on the band on the shoulder of the vase.

Text A is very poorly preserved, it was reassembled from scattered mosaic fragments.

Other medallions in the carpet mosaic of that room are decorated with animals (lions, birds, and dogs), and floral scenes.


+ ̣ἐπὶ το̣ῦ
Πέτ̣ρ̣ο[υ] ̣ἐ̣πι̣σ̣κ(όπου)
κ(αὶ) Ε[ὐ]ζοΐου ἑγουμένου
̣κα̣ὶ ̣Ἰ̣ωάννου
ἐπ̣ιτ[ρ]όπου κ(αὶ) ̣Γεοργί(ου)
οἰκωνόμ̣ο[υ], ̣ἔτ̣ι υξζ΄
ἀνενεόθη, ̣τ[ῇ σπου]̣δ[ῇ]
Ἰωάνν(ου), Θε̣ο̣δ̣ό̣ρ(ου),
Ἰωάνν(ου), μο̣ν(αχῶν)

B: + Κοσμᾶς ψεφωθ(έτης)

'Under the most holy bishop Petros, and the abbot (higoumenos) Euzoios, and the administrator (epitropos) Ioannes, and the steward (oikonomos) Georgios (this mosaic pavement) was restored in the year 467, [through the zeal] of the monks Ioannes, Theodoros (and) Ioannes'

'+ Kosmas the mosaicist.'

Text: Politis 2012, 393-400, no. 1 [ed. and translation Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, adapted].

Dating: the date, computed according to the era of the province of Arabia, corresponds to AD 572/573. The date corresponds to one of the presumed dates of the construction of a church dedicated to Saint Lot at Khirbat al-Mukhayyat near Mount Nebo (E02557).

Inscription 2:

A mosaic panel showing an encircled cross bearing the inscription τέλος καλόν/'Good End' (= '(May the) end (to life be) good') below a depiction of a chalice. Diameter 0.67 m. Letter height 0.06-0.08 m. Letters: black tesserae. Set in the floor of the choir, in the middle of a mosaic showing birds, a lamb and a peacock, surrounded by vine scrolls, probably close to or below the altar.

The inscription belongs to the same layer as Inscription 1 and therefore dates to 572/573.

Text: Politis 2012, 400-401, no. 3 [ed. and translation Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou.

Inscription 3:

An inscription of two lines, without any frame, was found on three conjoining fragments of the mosaic pavement close to Inscription 1, but its original location is not identified. The text is accompanied by floral motifs. Letter height 0.055-0.06 m.

οἱπ<ὲ>ρ σωτ[ηρίας]

1. possibly σωτ[ηρίας] Meimaris & Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou || 2. possibly: Σεργίου Meimaris & Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou

'As a vow for the salvation of Georgios.'

Text: Politis 2012, 400, no. 2 [ed. and translation Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, adapted].

Inscription 4:

Mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. Dimensions: H. 0.67 m; W. 2.325 m; letter height 0.10-0.12 m. Letters: black tesserae. Yellowish white background. Set in the floor at the east end of the north aisle, in front of the doorway of the holy cave behind the apse. The carpet mosaic of this aisle is the highest in quality in the church.

ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιωτ(άτου) πατρὸς ἡ-
μῶν Ἰακόβου τοῦ ἐπισκ(όπου) κ(αὶ) Σοζω-
μενοῦ ἡγουμένου ἐγένετο ἡ ψή-
φωσ(ις). μη(νὶ) Απριλ(ίῳ), ἰ(ν)δ(ικτιῶνι) ι΄, ἔτους φ΄

'Under our most holy father, bishop Iakobos, and the abbot (higoumenos) Sozomenos was completed this mosaic. In the month of April, the 10th indiction, the year 500'.

Dating: the era year and the indiction year do not correspond to each other. The editors suggest that one of these dates must be corrected. Thus the pavement was laid either in April of the 500th year of the era of the province of Arabia and <8>th indiction (= April AD 605) or in April of the 50<2>nd year of that era, in the 10th indiction (= April AD 607).

Meimaris and Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou note that the date falls in the episcopacy of the patriarch of Jerusalem Isaakios (601-609), who received a significant donation from the emperor Phokas for building and restoring churches and monasteries in Palestine. It is possible that the monastery at Deir 'Ain 'Abata benefited from this donation.

Text: Politis 2012, 401-402, no. 4 [ed. Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou].

Inscription 5:

Two inscriptions set in the floor of the nave, in front of the chancel screen, next to each other. Text A is within a framed rectangular mosaic panel (H. 0.60 m; W. 1.80 m; letter height 0.065-0.095 m). Text B is positioned to the left of it and runs vertically. Letters of black tesserae in both texts.


+ ἐπὶ τοῦ θεοφιλ(εσ)τ(άτου) Χρηστοφ̣όρου πρ(εσβυ)τ(έρου)
(καὶ) χοριεπ(ισ)κ(όπου) (καὶ) Ζήνονος π̣ρ(εσβυτέρου) [(καὶ)] ̣ο̣ἰκονό-
μῳ κ̣αὶ Ἰωάννου Ραβίβ[ου πρ(εσβυτέρου) (?)] καὶ δι-
οικητοῦ, ἐγένετο τὸ ἔργον τοῦτο τῆς
ψηφόσ̣ε̣ως τῆς βασιλικῆς τοῦ ἁγί(ου) τόπου
ἐν μ(η)ν(ὶ) Ξαν̣θ̣ι̣κ̣õ, ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ε΄, τ(οῦ) φπς΄· (καὶ) Γεοργ(ίου) κανδιλάπ(του)

+ Ἰωάπες Σαβνηάου

'+ Under the most God-fearing presbyter and country bishop (chorepiskopos) Christophoros, and Zenon, the presbyter and steward (oikonomos), and Ioannes, son of Rabibos, [the presbyter (?)] and administrator (dioiketes), this work of the mosaic pavement of the basilica of the holy place was made in the month of Xanthikos, in the 5th indiction, in the year 586, and in the time of Georgios the candle lighter (kandelaptes).'

'Ioapes, son of Sabneaos.'

Text: Politis 2012, 403-409, no. 5 [ed. and translation Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou, adapted].

Dating: the 586th year of the era of the province of Arabia does not coincide with the 5th indiction. Therefore, Meimaris and Nikolaropoulou corrected the era year to 587, which allows one to convert the date to 22nd March-20 April AD 692. The error is probably due to the fact that the author of the inscription did not notice that the month of Xanthikos (March/April) was the first month of the Graeco-Roman calendar used in the region.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Lot, Old Testament Patriarch and nephew of Abraham : S01234

Saint Name in Source


Image Caption 1

Mosaic 1. From: Politis 2010, 14.

Image Caption 2

Mosaic 3. From: Politis 2012, 400.

Image Caption 3

Mosaic 1. Drawing by Y. Meimaris. From Politis 2012, 401.

Image Caption 4

Mosaic 4.

Image Caption 5

The entrance to the cave and the apse of the nave. From: Politis 2010, 6.

Image Caption 6

View of the preserved part of the basilica. From: Politis 2010, 8.

Image Caption 7

Plan of the basilica and the cave. From: Politis 2010, 8.

Image Caption 8

Reconstruction of the basilica. From: Politis 2010, 7.

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

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Zoara Deir 'Ain Abata

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

Zoara Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Deir 'Ain Abata 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


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - abbots Merchants and artisans Officials Other lay individuals/ people


The monastery of Saint Lot lies on a mountain slope, on the southeast shore of the Dead Sea, close to a spring named 'Ain 'Abata (= Arabic 'abbot's spring') and the city of Ghores-Safi (ancient Zoara). The existence of a sanctuary dedicated to Lot at this location is marked on the Mosaic Map of Madaba (see E02524, no. 2). The site was first recorded in 1986 by Burton MacDonald, during his survey of the region. The excavations, supported by the British Museum, and the Jordanian and Greek authorities, started in 1988, under the supervision of Konstantinos D. Politis. In 1991 the excavators unearthed the remnants of a three-aisled basilica with three apses, set against the slope of the mountain. The east wall of the church was relatively well preserved. The apse in the north aisle ended with a doorway leading to a cave in the rock-face of the mountain (see E02666). The floor of the basilica was decorated with four geometric carpet mosaics (consisting of stepped squares, diamonds, and candles), and enclosing three inscribed panels. The nave was equipped with a pulpit/ambo (set up after the restoration in 691) and the central apse with a synthronon. The church was part of a monastic establishment. A large reservoir was recorded to the south of it and a refectory with an oven to the north. A pilgrim’s hostel, a hospital for the poor and sick, and a communal tomb in an abandoned cistern were also found. The site was attended by Christians and Muslims up to the 8th/9th c. The Greek inscriptions from the site were published in 2012 by Yiannis Meimaris and Kalliope Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou. For stone inscriptions from the site, see: E02665. For graffiti from the site, see: E02666. For painted inscriptions from the site, see: E02782.


The inscriptions confirm the identification of the site as the monastery dedicated to Lot, known from the Mosaic Map of Madaba, and give us a glimpse of the clergy and monks running it. The church was built immediately in front of a cave, apparently believed by the early Christians to have been the place where according to the Biblical story (Genesis 19) Lot, nephew of Abraham, settled after the destruction of the city of Sodom. Lot was accompanied by his two daughters who, being unable to find husbands in the mountains, made their father drink wine, and while he was drunk, had sex with him. Their offspring were said to be Moab and Ben-ammi, founders of the tribes of the Moabites and the Ammonites. Perhaps, due to their solitude, Lot and his daughters were venerated there as prefigurations of monks. The three dates computed according to the era of the province of Arabia throw light on the chronology of the site. The earliest one, our Inscription 1, which already records a restoration and not a construction, dates to AD 572/573. Inscription 4, set in front of the cave, comes from AD 605 or 607 and Inscription 5 from AD 692, which falls within the Umayyad period. Based on the occurrence to the term dioiketes in Inscription 3A (dated 692), Meimaris and Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou suggest that there could have been some links between the monastery of Lot and the Great Laura (monastery) of St. Sabas. It is not clear whether the term denotes here a secular office (e.g. a village or town treasurer) or an ecclesiastical one. The editors note that dioiketai were active in the monasteries (koinobia) of Kastellion, Spelaion, and Heptastomos, which were dependent from that of St. Sabas. Consequently, they suggest that in the Umayyad period the abbots of those convents (and of the monastery of Lot) could have been appointed by the superior of St. Sabas and termed dioiketai instead of higoumenoi.


Edition: Politis. K.D. (ed.), Sanctuary of Lot at Deir 'Ain 'Abata: Excavations 1988-2003 (Amman: Jordan Distribution Agency, 2012), 393-416 (Greek inscriptions, ed. and translation Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou). We are very grateful to Konstantinos Politis for generously providing a copy of this publication, and to Alan Walmsley and Carol Palmer, the director of the British Institute in Amman (CBRL), for additional help. For Inscription 1, see also: Donderer, M., Die Mosaizisten der Antike, vol. 2: Epigraphische Quellen - Neufunde und Nachträge (Erlangen: Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg Universitätsbibliothek, 2008), 59-60, no. A16. Chlouveraki, S.N., Politis, K.D., Newsletter of the European Center of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments 2 (2001), 52. Further reading: 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), 11. Politis, K.D., "Excavations at the Monastery of Saint Lot at Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata", Liber Annuus 41 (1991), 517-518. Politis, K.D. "The Sanctuary of Agios Lot, the City of Zoara and the Zared River", in: M. Piccirillo, E. Alliata (eds.), The Madaba Map Centenary 1897–1997: Travelling Through the Byzantine Umayyad Period. Proceedings of the International Conference Held in Amman, 7.–9. April 1997 (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1999), 225-227. Politis, K.D., "The Monastery of Aghios Lot at Deir 'Ain 'Abata in Jordan”, in: Daim, F., Drauschke, J. (eds.), Byzanz – Das Römerreich im Mittelalter (Mainz: Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, 2010), 155-180. Politis, K.D., "The sanctuary of Lot at 'Ain 'Abata in Jordan", in: L.D. Chrupcała (ed.), Christ is here! Studies in Biblical and Christian Archaeology in Memory of Michele Piccirillo, ofm (SBF Collectio Maior 52, Milan: Edizioni Terra Santa, 2012), 355-382. See also: Reference works: L'Année épigraphique (2012) [2015], 1765-1767. Bulletin épigraphique (2015), 721. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 58, 1779; 42, 1483; 62, 1698-1716.

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