Saint NameTheodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before450
Evidence not after700
Activity not before450
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Palestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
SourceFragmentary stone lintel, when recorded it was reused in a doorway in the modern village. Dimensions not specified. The inscription is carved over a cross pattée within a circle in low relief, flanked by two framed doves.
First recorded by Major Wilson and published after his copy in 1882 by Claude Conder in the second volume of the Survey of Western Palestine. Independently published in 1893 by Jean Germer-Durand. The stone was revisited by Bellarmino Bagatti in 1959. The same year, he republished the inscription, for the first time with a photograph. The most recent edition was offered in 2007 by the editors of the catalogue of the exhibition of objects from the Bible Land Museum in Jerusalem. Now in the Bible Land Museum.
DiscussionThe inscription clearly labels a martyr shrine (martyrion). The name of the martyr is almost entirely lost. Its first letter, fragmentarily preserved, can be either Θ or lunar Ε. Wilson, the author of the first copy did not record it and, therefore, in Claude Conder's edition there is no mention of the saint to whom the shrine was dedicated. Conder associated the lintel with the main church of the village, the so-called 'church of Mary', which according to his description 'had a modern appearance, though said by the priest to be very ancient'. He also mentioned four other churches/chapels, some of them still frequented by Christian pilgrims, and dedicated to: Saint Barbara (Barbara el Keniseh), Saint Anastasia (Deir Nestasieh), Saint Theodore (Mar Thodrus), and Saint Abadiah (Mar Abadia - with a hollow beneath the altar, identified as a tomb). There is, however, no epigraphic evidence that would confirm the supposition that these could have been ancient dedications.
Based on his new reading and the association of the stone with the nearby ruined church 'Mar Thodros', Germer-Durand, restored the name of the martyr as Theodore, and this supposition was unanimously accepted by subsequent editors. Bagatti notes that in 1959 the land around those ruins was cultivated, but he was still able to distinguish bases, columns, and aisles with three apses. Black, white, and red tesserae were scattered over the ground. He had no doubts that the lintel came from this church.
Dating: There is no reliable way to precisely date the inscription. As for the presumed archaeological context, different surveyors had different opinions on the dates of the first phase of existence of the five shrines in the village. They were certainly many times restored and refurbished, even into modern times. For a re-assessment, see Madden 2014, 14. As for 'Mar Thodros', which is interesting to us, Schneider placed it in the 7th/8th c., whilst Bagatti in the 'Byzantine period' (that is before the Arab conquest of Palestine). Meimaris dates the lintel to the 7th c., giving no arguments. Di Segni, Vukosavovic, and Goodnick Westenholz point to the late 5th - early 6th c.
Di Segni, L., Vukosavovic, F., Goodnick Westenholz, J., "", in: J. Goodnick Westenholz (ed.), Three Faces of Monotheism (Jerusalem, 2007), 105, no. 51.
Bagatti, B., "Abud", Liber Annuus 10 (1959-1960), 187.
Germer-Durand, P., "Épigraphie chrétienne de Palestine", La Revue biblique 2 (1893), 210-211.
Conder, C.R., Kitchener, H.H. and others, The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography and Archaeology, vol. 2: Samaria (London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 1882), 302-303.
Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 13-14.
Meimaris, Y., Sacred names, saints, martyrs and church officials in the Greek inscriptions and papyri pertaining to the Christian Church of Palestine (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation, Center for Greek and Roman Antiquity, 1986), 131, no. 695.
Bulletin épigraphique (1962), 318.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 57, 1817.