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E02666: Greek and Arabic graffiti found at the entrance to the holy cave at the sanctuary (hagios topos) of *Lot (Old Testament Patriarch, S01234) at Deir 'Ain 'Abata near Zoara/modern Ghor es-Safi on the southeast shore of the Dead Sea (Jordan/Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably 6th-9th c.

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posted on 2017-04-06, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The cave is located behind the apse of the north aisle. The excavators found no traces of a door between the cave and the aisle: perhaps the cave was separated by a curtain. The doorway was fitted with carved limestone pilasters with capitals, and a carved lintel. At the end of the cave there is a small room (c. 2 m x 2.5 m) paved with marble, with a niche in the floor, which is accessible by way of several steps. There are no traces of an altar.

The south-eastern wall of the north aisle near the entrance to the cave was covered with plaster, on which a Greek and Arabic graffito were scratched. For the Greek graffito, see Politis 2012, 414-415, no. 19 (ed. Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou): Ζινοβία Νεστασί[ου]/'Zenobia, daughter of Nestasios (= Anastasios)'. For the Arabic graffito, see Politis 2012, 417, no. 1 (ed. M. C. A. Macdonald): invocation of the Compassionate and Merciful God on behalf of one Ğarīr.

For graffiti with scarcely legible words, scratched on pieces of plaster scattered over the church, see Politis 2012, 415-416, nos. 1-3.

Clay lamps and pottery found in the cave range from the 4th to the 8th/9th c. Lower layers contain deposits from the 1st c. AD and the Middle Bronze Age II period (c. 1900-1550 BC).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Lot, Old Testament Patriarch and nephew of Abraham : S01234

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Graffiti


  • 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

Deir 'Ain Abata Zoara

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

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

Foreigners (including Barbarians) Other lay individuals/ people


For a description of the site, see: E02664. For stone inscriptions from the site, see: E02665. For painted inscriptions from the site, see: E02782.


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. ed. Y. Meimaris & K.I. Kritikakou-Nikolaropoulou), 417-419 (Semitic inscriptions, eds.: S. Brock, Sh. Canby, O. Al-Ghul, R. G. Hoyland, M. C. A. Macdonald). 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. Further reading: 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: Piccirillo, M., Alliata, E. (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: Bulletin épigraphique (2015), 721. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 58, 1779; 42, 1483; 62, 1698-1716.

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