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E02858: Floor-mosaic with a fragmentary Greek inscription once thought to have referred to a church of *Anna (the prophetess living at the Temple, S01359), but in reality probably mentioning the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Anastasis). Found on the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem. Probably late 7th c.

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posted on 2017-05-28, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
In November 1954 Bellarmino Bagatti, on behalf of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, excavated a 'chapel', an adjacent 'oratory', and ruins of a small monastery at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at the so-called 'compound of Dominus flevit'.

The 'chapel' was a one-aisled basilica with an apse, measuring 5.40 m x 12.50 m (apse: 2.60 m x 2.15 m). On the floor of the nave, in front of the chancel screen he discovered a fragmentary inscription, which he restored as referring to a church dedicated to Saint Anne:

[- - - τοῦ] εὐαγοῦς μοναστηρίου ἀνήγειρεν ἐκ θεμελ[ίων - - -]
[- - -] τῆς ἁγίας Ἄν[νας] καὶ προήνεγκεν τ[ὸ - - -]
[- - - ἀδελφ]ῶν αὐτο[ῦ - - τῶν προσφ]ερόντ[ων - - -]

'[- - - of the] reverend monastery built from the foundations [- - -] of Saint An[na] and offered the [- - -] his [brothers - - -] those who make offerings [- - -]'

This restoration was initially accepted by Louis Robert in the Bulletin épigraphique (1960), and is reprinted as such in the corpus of mosaic pavements from Israel by Ruth and Asher Ovadiah (1987). However, already in 1960 Józef Tadeusz Milik suggested a different, very plausible, interpretation of the text as referring to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Anastasis). This altered restoration was accepted by Robert in 1961, and was the basis for a new edition of the mosaic in the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae (2012) by Leah Di Segni:

[τὴν ἁγίαν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ ε]ὐαγοῦς μοναστηρίου ἀνήγειρεν ἐκ θεμελ[ίων]
[Γεώργιος ἡγούμενος καὶ πρεσβύτερος τ]ῆς ἁγίας Ἀν[αστ(άσεως)] καὶ προσήνεγκεν τ[ῷ Κ(υρί)ῳ ἡμ(ῶν)]
[Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστ)ῷ ὑπὲρ σωτηρ(ίας) αὐτοῦ καὶ τῶν ἀδελφ]ῶν αὐτο[ῦ καὶ πάντων τῶν προσφ]ερόντ[ων. ἀμήν (?)]

'[This holy church of the] reverend monastery [Georgios, abbot (higoumenos) and priest] of the Holy An[astasis] erected from the foundations, and he offered (it) [to our Lord Christ for the salvation of himself and of] his [brothers], and of all the benefactors. [Amen (?).]'

Text: CIIP 1/2, no. 824. Translation: L. Di Segni, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Anna, New Testament prophetess : S01359

Type of Evidence

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

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)

Jerusalem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


Fragmentary mosaic panel framed by a rectangle or a tabula ansata. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.34 m; W. max. 1.65 m; letter height 0.085-0.10 m. Black letters on white background. High quality lettering. Set in the nave, in front of the chancel.


Having searched the then available literature on the 'liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem' (probably the Georgian Parisian lectionary and other Georgian liturgical texts, as only these are given in the footnote), Bagatti argued that the Anna, to whom he believed the chapel had been dedicated, was the prophetess living at the Temple in Jerusalem, mentioned in Luke 2, 36-38. According to the Parisian lectionary, her feast was celebrated on 1 February, while menologia and the Georgian calendar of Jerusalem place it on 3 February (the latter date is actually preferred in Garitte's new edition of the calendar, postdating Bagatti's report). Bagatti's restoration of the mosaic was, however, very soon questioned by Józef Tadeusz Milik who rightly pointed out that Anna's cult does not appear before the Crusades, while the mosaic was clearly late antique, and that word-spacing in Bagatti's text was very uneven. Milik's new completions, especially the name of the founder in line 2, are based on another mosaic inscription, found in the oratory adjacent to our chapel, which mentions one abbot Georgios and other members of his family (CIIP 1/2, no. 825). Milik's interpretation was accepted by Leah Di Segni in the most recent edition of the inscription. Dating: the mosaic and the chapel are usually dated to the 7th c.


Edition: Cotton, H.M., Di Segni, L., Eck, W., Isaac, B., Kushnir-Stein, A., Misgav, H., Price, J.J., Yardeni, A. and others (eds.), Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 1, part 2: Jerusalem, nos. 705-1120 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), no. 824 (with further bibliography). Bieberstein, K., Bloedhorn, H., Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft (TAVO Beiheft B 100, 1-3; Wiesbaden 1994), vol. 3, 268-272. Ovadiah, R. & A., Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaic Pavements in Israel (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1987), no. 120 (1) (as the church of Anna). Milik, J.T., "Notes d'épigraphie et de topographie palestiniennes", Revue biblique 67 (1960), 554. Bagatti, B., "Scavo di un monastero al <>", Liber Annuus 6 (1955-1956), 243-244 (as the church of Anna). Further reading: Comte, M.-Ch., Les reliquaires du Proche-Orient et de Chypre à la période protobyzantine, IVe-VIIIe siècles: formes, emplacements, fonctions et cultes (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 20, Turnhout : Brepols Publishers, 2012), 141-143. Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 88, no. 116 (as the church of Anna). Milik, J.T., "La topographie de Jérusalem vers la fin de l'époque byzantine", Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph 37 (1960-1961), 160. Schick, R., The Christian Communities of Palestine from Byzantine to Islamic Rule: A Historical and Archaeological Study (Studies in late antiquity and early Islam 2, Princeton, N.J: Darwin Press, 1995), 351-352. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1960), 416 (as the church of Anna); (1961), 814. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 17, 786a (as the church of Anna).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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