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E02691: Floor mosaics with Greek inscriptions invoking *Kosmas and Damianos (brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, S00385). Found in a monastic (?) church at Khirbat Dariya near Samad, close to Irbid, Pella and Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/Roman province of Arabia or Palaestina II). Dated 624.

online resource
posted on 2017-04-12, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Circular medallion set in the mosaic floor of the apse, at its east end.

+ Κ(ύρι)ε ὁ θ(εὸ)ς
τοῦ ἁγ(ίου) Κοσ-
μᾶ (καὶ) Δαμιανοῦ,
μνήσθετι τοῦ δού-
λου σου Θεοδώ-

'+ O Lord, God of Saint Kosmas and Damianos, remember your servant Theodoros!'

Text: SEG 57, 1841.

Inscription 2:

Framed rectangular medallion set in the border of the carpet mosaic of the choir, in front of the apse.

+ ἅγιε Κοσμᾶ (καὶ) Δαμιανέ,
[μνήσ]θετι τῆς δούλης σου Μαρ-
[- - -]ΑΛΟΥ[- - -]ΙΑΝΙΝ
[- - -]ΟΥΝ

1. Δαμιανν(έ) Michel || 3. ]λλου[ Michel || ]ηιαν ιν́΄ Michel

'+ O Saint Kosmas and Damianos, remember your servant Mar[ia (?) - - -], (daugther of?) [- - -]alos (and?) [- - -]!'

Text: SEG 57, 1842.

Inscription 3:

Large rectangular panel framed by a tabula ansata, containing a Greek inscription of five lines. Set in the floor of the nave, in front of the chancel screen. Dimensions not specified.

The inscription has not been published. A fragmentary French translation was offered by Anne Michel in 2001, and was later lightly corrected by Michele Piccirillo in Liber Annuus and Leah Di Segni in SEG. This is certainly the building inscription of the church as it says that the shrine was completed or restored under bishop Axiopistos, country bishop (chorepiskopos) Kasiseos, priest Gilonos (?) and a monk (?) on 1st March, 12th indiction, in the year [5]18 of the era of the province of Arabia, which corresponds to 1st March AD 624. The work was funded by Thomas, son (?) of Arsenios, as a vow for the salvation of himself and of his family, under the supervision of priests Ioannes, Sergios, and Klimothaus (?).

An English translation is offered by Lihi Habas (2009, 76): 'In honour of the holiest of the saints the illustrious bishop Casisao head of the bishops Kilonous all ... the Saints Cosmas and Damianus, the work was carried out by the care of Thomas [son of?] Arsenius, for the sake of his redemption and the redemption of others. The work began in the days of Priest John ... and Sergius and Climothaus on the first of March in the twelfth indiction in the year ... 18.'

See also: SEG 57, 1844, Piccirillo 2005, 389, and Michel 2001, 137.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs in Syria, ob. 285/287 : S00385 Daniel, the Old Testament prophet : S00727

Saint Name in Source

Κοσμᾶς καὶ Δαμιανός Δανιήλ

Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. From: Kharasneh 1997, 29.

Image Caption 2

Inscription 2 and the setting of Inscription 1. From: Kharasneh 1997, 29.

Image Caption 3

Left-hand end of Inscription 3. From: Kharasneh 1997, 30.

Image Caption 4

Plan of the church. From: Michel 2001, 136.

Type of Evidence

Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Palestine with Sinai Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gerasa/Jerash Pella Arbela Khirbat Dariya

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

Gerasa/Jerash Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Pella Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Arbela Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Khirbat Dariya 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


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Other lay individuals/ people


The site is located c. 17 km to the south of Irbid and 5 km to the southeast of the modern village of Samad. It was first surveyed in 1951 by Nelson Glueck, but the church was discovered only in 1995. Rescue excavations by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan followed soon after the discovery. The excavations revealed the existence of the foundations and floor mosaics of a two-aisled stone basilica with an inscribed apse (diameter 3.10 m), and with a vestibule at the west end (where a sarcophagus was found). Two halls were annexed to the south wall of the basilica. The church might have been part of a monastery. The floors of the church were paved with mosaics decorated with geometric and floral motifs, and depictions of vases, animals and people. The animals and figural depictions were damaged in a period of iconoclasm and not restored. Hence it is supposed that the building was abandoned in the 8th c. and/or converted to a mosque. The inscriptions in the church are written in Greek. In addition to the texts which we reproduce here, there are also labels of images of months and seasons (SEG 57, 1845), a label probably reading 'Daniel', placed next to a depiction of a man in the border of the carpet mosaic of the apse, close to Inscription 2 (see SEG 57, 1843), and a label of a panel showing a camel driver with his caravan (SEG 57, 1846). The inscriptions were first published as photographs in 1997 by W. Kharasneh in the Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. Partial transcriptions were offered by Anne Michel in 2001, and were later corrected by Leah Di Segni (in a letter sent to Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum) and Michele Piccirillo in 2006, in his comments on the lists of bishops in the Roman province of Arabia.


The inscriptions invoke the help of the holy physicians, Saints Kosmas and Damianos. The saints are also reportedly mentioned in the building inscription (our Inscription 3) and based on this fact we can plausibly identify the church as dedicated to them. Dating: the date which is specified in Inscription 3 corresponds to AD 624. As the complete text is not published we cannot say if it refers to the construction, a restoration or a re-paving of the church. The excavators argue that the church was built in the late 6th c., based on the style of mosaics and pottery. It has been disputed whether the ancient village lay within the boundaries of the Roman province of Palaestina II or Arabia. Michel suspends judgement, but discusses the site in the chapter on Palaestina II. Di Segni and Piccirillo suggest that as Inscription 3 uses the era of the province of Arabia, the site should be assigned to this region. It is possible that the province of Arabia was extended to the west in the 6th or early 7th c. If so, bishop Axiopistos, mentioned in Inscription 3, probably held the see of Gerasa/Jerash, and the village lay within the boundaries of that bishopric. The other possibility is that Axiopistos was bishop of Bostra, but in that case he should have been styled 'metropolitan'.


Edition: Kharasneh, W., "[Excavations at the Church of Khirbat Dariya/az-Za'tara/Samad 1995]" (in Arabic), Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 41 (1997), 21-35. Further reading: Habas, L., "Donations and donors as reflected in the mosaic paveents of Transjordan's churches in the Byzantine and Umayyad periods", in: K. Kogman-Appel, M. Meyer, Between Judaism and Christianity Art Historical Essays in Honor of Elisheva (Elisabeth) Revel-Neher (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 76. 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), 135-137, no. 16. Piccirillo, M., "Aggiornamento delle liste episcopali delle diocesi in territorio transgiordanico", Liber Annuus 55 (2005), 389. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 57, 1841-1846.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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