University of Oxford
E03556.jpg (62.6 kB)

E03556: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions invoking the intercession of *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030) and referring to a saint whose name is lost. Found at Yishub/Khirbet Kafr Sibb near Baḥan, c. 5 km to the north of modern Tulkarm (Samaria, Roman province of Palestina I). Probably 6th c.

Download (62.6 kB)
online resource
posted on 2017-08-10, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Inscription 1:

Mosaic panel from the lower layer of the pavement of the south aisle. Dimensions not specified.

+ Κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστ)έ, ἀνάπαυσον πάντας
ἀναπαυσαμένων τοὺς ἐν ζοῇ ὄντ(ας)
Κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστ)έ, μνήσθιθι τῶ ὁσιωτάτου Ἰουλιανοῦ [πρε]-
σβ(υτέρου) χάριν παράσχον αὐτοὺς [ἀρχι]μανδρί[την τ]-
ὸν δεσπότην εὐχε͂ς τῶ ἁγίω καὶ ἐνδ(οξοτάτω)
προτομά[ρτυρος] Στεφάνου· ἀμήν

1-2. <τοὺς> ἀναπαυσαμέν <ους καὶ> τοὺς (?) Bingen || 4. σβss mosaic || παράσχον = παρασχών (?) and αὐτοὺς = αὐτοῖς (?) Bingen

'+ Lord, Jesus Christ, give rest to all those who are at rest in (eternal) life! Lord, Jesus Christ, remember the most reverend presbyter Ioulianos in the interest of the abbot (archimandrite) (and) master, through the intercessions of the holy and glorious First Martyr Stephen! Amen.'

Text: SEG 32, 1520. Translation: A.M. Madden, lightly modified.

Inscription 2:

Mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata, set in the floor of the nave. Dimensions not specified.

[- - -]ου ἁγίου
[- - -]ον δοῦλον
[- - - πρ]εσβ(ύτερον) τὸν
[- - - ἐκ] θεμελ(ίων) κ(αὶ) τὸν
[- - - ]ΥΓΥΕΝΕLΕ
[- - - ]ΚΦLΕΚΡΙ

just possibly [Κ(ύρι)ε, ὁ θεὸς τ]οῦ ἁγίου | [- - - βοήθει τ]ὸν δοῦλόν | [σου - - - πρ]εσβ(ύτερον) τὸν | [κτίσαντα - - - ἐκ] θεμελ(ίων)...

'[- - -] of the saint [- - -] servant [- - -] presbyter [- - - from] the foundations and [- - -]'

Text: SEG 32, 1518.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030 Saints, name wholly or largely lost : S01744

Saint Name in Source


Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. From: Ovadiah 1987, Pl. VI.

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 Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tulkarm Baḥan Yishub/Khirbet Kafr Sibb

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

Tulkarm Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Baḥan Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Yishub/Khirbet Kafr Sibb Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


The mosaics were found in a small church (a three-aisled basilica, c. 13 m x 16 m, with a narthex) excavated in 1955 by Y. 'Ori with permission of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums. The floors of the church were decorated with carpet mosaics showing amphoras with vine shoots growing out of them, and animals framed by medallions formed of vines. Five mosaic inscriptions, some of them fragmentarily preserved, were recorded by the excavators. They were first published by Shimon Applebaum, Benjamin Isaac, and Yohanan Landau in 1982 with permission and after transcriptions of Rudolph Cohen, director of the Archaeological Survey of Israel. The editors say that by the time of the first edition the pavements 'were no longer accessible' , that 'no photographs of these inscriptions exist', and that one of the panels (which is our Inscription 2) was kept in the Museum of 'Emeq Hepher at the Ruppin Agricultural College. But in 1987 the Ovadiahs offered a poor quality photograph of our Inscription 1 in the corpus of mosaic pavements of Israel. Light corrections to the first edition were offered by Jean Bingen in the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, which we reproduce here.


Inscription 1 is somewhat puzzling because of the poor syntax and grammar, and the first editors did not comment on its actual contents. It begins with an invocation of God, asked to give rest to the deceased, possibly monks, as an abbot is mentioned further on in the text. Jean Bingen supposes that in the second part Stephen is invoked to intercede for the successful appointment of a talented abbot for the monastery - an interpretation which is implausible in a mosaic inscription. Inscription 2 is very fragmentary. It could be an invocation of the God of a saint (again Stephen?), but this is not the only option. Line 1 might also contain a reference to a pious institution, a church (οἶκος, νάος), etc. Dating: The church, where the inscriptions were found, was dated to the 6th c. by the excavators.


Edition: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 32, 1516-1520 (improved readings). Ovadiah, R. & A., Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaic Pavements in Israel (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1987), 14-15, no. 8 (fragmentary edition). Applebaum, S., Isaac, B., Landau, Y., "Varia epigraphica", Scripta Classica Israelica 6 (1981-1982), 102-104, nos. 9-13 (first complete edition). Further reading: Avi-Yonah, M., "Mosaic pavements in Palestine", Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 4 (1935), no. 387 (mentioned). Bagatti, B., Antichi villaggi cristiani di Samaria (Jerusalem: Tipografia Dei PP. Francescani, 1979), 185-186. Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 23-25, no. 21 (with further bibliography). 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), 135, no. 714. 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), 256. Reference works: Chronique archéologique, in La Revue biblique 62 (1955), 83-84.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager