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E03574: Floor-mosaics with a Greek dedicatory inscription to *Kyrikos (child martyr of Tarsus, S00007). Found in the church complex at Kibbutz Magen in the north-west Negev desert, to the south-east of Gaza (Roman province of Palaestina I). Probably late 5th-early 6th c.

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posted on 2017-08-18, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata, set in the floor of the nave, in front of the chancel screen of Building A (basilica). Dimensions not specified.

+ Αἰλιανὸς Ζοναίνου
ἀναγνώστης εὐχαριστῶ\ν/
τῷ ἁγίῳ Κυρίκῳ, ἐψήφωσα

'+ Ailianos, son of Zonainos, reader, giving thanks to Saint Kyrikos. I made the mosaic.'

(Text: Tzaferis 1985a, no. 3.)

Inscription 2:

Fragmentary mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. Found in Building D (baptistery). Dimensions not specified.

[- - -].ΖΩΝΗ α-
[- - -]ΜΑ ὐ-
[- - -]ΜΑ τ-
[- - -]ΚΟΥ ῶν

1. possibly Ζώνη[νος] Feissel, ]ΖΩΝΗ Tzaferis (but possibly preceded by a damaged letter, e.g. Τ or Ε || 4. possibly [μετὰ τοῦ οἴ]κου αὐτῶν Feissel, possibly Κυρί]κου Tzaferis

'[- - -] their.'

Text: Tzaferis 1985a, no. 6.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyrikos/Cyricus, child martyr of Tarsus (son of *Ioulitta/Julitta) : S00007

Saint Name in Source


Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. From: Tzaferis 1985a, 27.

Image Caption 2

Setting of Inscription 1. From: Tzaferis 1985b, 10.

Image Caption 3

Inscription 2. From: Tzaferis 1985a, 29.

Image Caption 4

Setting of Inscription 2. From: Tzaferis 1985b, 12. The panel is in the lower left-hand corner.

Image Caption 5

Plan of the complex. From: Tzaferis 1985b, 2.

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

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gaza Kibbutz Magen

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

Gaza Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Kibbutz Magen Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


The church complex at Magen comprises four buildings excavated by Vassilios Tzaferis in 1976. Building B is a large basilica (13.70 m x 36 m). To its south and north walls are, respectively, annexed: Buildings A and C, which were likewise churches (three-aisled basilicas, A on a trapezoidal plan, c. 14 m long). Building D, located to the north of these structures, is presumed to have been a baptistery (of squarish plan, with an inscribed cross-shaped room with a baptismal font in the middle, dimensions unknown; an area of c. 7.10 m x 4.00 m was covered by remnants of a carpet mosaic). Inscription 1 was found in Building A, which also houses other floor mosaics. Inscription 2 comes from Building D. According to Tzaferis, Buildings B and C belong to the first phase of the Christian occupation of the site, datable to the late 4th/early 5th c., based on the archaeological context. Buildings A and D, housing our mosaic inscriptions, seem to be later, probably late 5th/early 6th c. Floor-mosaics from the site show a high level of craftsmanship, in addition to geometric motifs they include animals (a lion, birds), a cross, and the bust of a man. A total number of eight inscriptions from the site (on floor-mosaics and stone) were published by Tzaferis in 1985. Minor corrections to some of those texts were offered in the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum and by Arthur Bradford Shippee in 1989. In 1986 Yiannis Meimaris quoted Inscription 1 as still unpublished. The mosaic inscriptions were reprinted in 2014 by Andrew Madden, in his corpus of mosaic pavements.


Inscription 1 commemorates a dedication to Saint Kyrikos as an act of thanksgiving by one Ailianos, son of Zonainos. It is possible, given the inscription's prominent location, that the church was dedicated to the saint and was built by Ailianos, or that the pavements of the shrine were restored by him. The last word in the inscription ἐψήφωσα/'I made the mosaic' may be an integral part of the dedicatory formula and mean that Ailianos paid for the pavements, but it could be a statement of the mosaicist who made the panel. Other inscribed panels from this church do not mention the saint. One contains a biblical quotation, and the other two dating formulas, of which one is lost, and one mentions bishop Petros (holding an unknown see), and the presbyter Abdallos, under whom a restoration was completed. Based on the name of the presbyter, Tzaferis and Irfan Shahîd suggested that he was of Arab origin. Inscription 2 is very poorly preserved. We cannot ascertain if the supposition of Tzaferis, that it also mentions the name Kyrikos (be this the saint or an ordinary mortal), is correct. In Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, Denis Feissel suggests that line 1 could contain the name: Ζώνη[νος], and line 4 could be the ending of a votive formula on behalf of one's household: μετὰ τοῦ οἴ]κου αὐτῶν rather than a reference to the name Kyrikos. Dating: Both mosaics were found in buildings ascribed to the second phase of the complex (late 5th - early 6th c.).


Edition: Tzaferis, V., "Mosaics and inscriptions from Magen", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 258 (1985a), 17-32. Further reading: Bagatti, B., Antichi villagi cristiani della Giudea e del Neghev (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1983), 179-180. Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 102-103, no. 139. 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), 122-123, no. 661; 252, no. 1264. 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), 397-398. Shahîd, I., Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1989), 230. Shippee, A.B., "On mosaics and inscriptions from Magen", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 275 (1989), 69. Tzaferis, V., Dinur, E., "The church of St. Cyricus near Kibbutz Magen", Qadmoniot 11/1 (1978), 26-29. Tzaferis, V., "An early Christian church complex at Magen", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 258 (1985), 1-17. Tzaferis, V., "Early Christian churches at Magen", in: Y. Tasfrir (ed.), Ancient Churches Revealed (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993), 283-285. Reference works: Chronique archéologique, in: La Revue biblique 85 (1978), 106-108. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 728. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 35, 1551, 1554; cf. 39, 1629.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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