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E03976: Greek inscription commemorating a donation. Found at the monastery of *Aaron (the first High Priest, and brother of Moses, S01427) on Jabal Hārūn near Petra (Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably later 6th c.

online resource
posted on 2017-09-05, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The text is framed by a tabula ansata (H. 0.35 m; W. 1.40 m; 'semiprofessional' lettering), carved on a large sandstone slab from the south wall of Room 18 in the Western Building. The stone was spotted in 2005 and already then the inscription was scarcely legible. When it was revisited in 2011 only parts of the frame were extant. First published by Jaakko Frösén and Zbigniew Fiema in 2016. The editors suppose that approximately 6-7 letters are missing in each line at the right-hand end.

+ ̣Ὀβοδ̣ιαν[ὸς καὶ Παν]-
̣όλβ̣ι̣ο̣ς [- - -]

2. possibly [ἔκτισαν] Frösén & Fiema

'+ Obodianos [and] Panolbios [built it (?)].'

Text: Frösén & Fiema 2016, no. 20.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Aaron, Old Testament prophet : S01427

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • 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

Jabal an-Nabī Hārūn Petra

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

Jabal an-Nabī Hārūn Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Petra Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Hospital and other charitable institutions

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people


The excavations on Jabal Hārūn, a mountain located c. 5 km as the crow flies to the southeast of Petra, were conducted between between 1998 and 2001 by the Finnish Jabal Hārūn project. The excavations were initiated after a preliminary reading of one of the Petra papyri (P.Petra inv. 6, see E03944), recording a donation to a monastery of Aaron, sited in the vicinity of the city. Guided by Jewish, early Christian, and Muslim traditions, describing the nearby mountain as the place of burial of Aaron, brother of Moses (see Frösén & Miettunen 2008, 5-25), the excavators focused on a high plateau seventy metres below the summit. In 1998 they unearthed a small chapel. The campaigns which followed brought to light an unexpectedly large basilica, comparable with the cathedral of Petra (the so-called 'Petra Church'), and a complex of buildings identified as a pilgrims' hostel. It is possible that the complex was built over an earlier pagan temenos. For other inscriptions from the site, see: E03946.


This inscription records in the nominative the names of one Obodianos and, probably, one Panolbios. The former may be Flavios Obodianos, son of Obodianos, who wished to donate his property to a monastery of *Aaron and to a hostel of the martyr *Kyrikos in the territory of Petra, as documented by his will preserved in the Petra papyri (see E03944), or a different homonymous member of the same family. It seems that Flavios Obodianos recovered from his illness and the will which was discovered was never executed, as the papyrus was found complete, containing six copies in one roll. In the case of the testator's death, the document would have been cut into pieces and the copies distributed to the beneficiaries. Thus, the inscription is apparently connected to a different donation, though possibly a later, similar will of the same man. The editors suppose that the second named individual in our inscription, could have been Panolbios, Obodianos' nephew, who is recorded in the same archive. The mountain, where the complex is sited, was considered the place of burial of Aaron by Jews, Christians and Muslims, based on an ancient tradition preserved in the works of Josephus (AI 4.82-83) and Eusebius of Caesarea (Onom. 176.7). The editors associated this shrine with other sites of the cult of Old Testament figures, located roughly in the same area, for example the sanctuary of *Moses on Mount Nebo (E02548; E02852), his presumed burial place, and the sanctuary of *Lot at Deir 'Ain Abata (E02664; E02665; E02666; E02782) at the site of his cave described in the Old Testament. Judging from the size of the hostel, the monastery of Aaron must likewise have been a major pilgrimage destination. Dating: The inscription may postdate AD 573, as in that year the bedridden Obodianos made his will, in which he promised to donate his property to the monastery of Aaron, in case he died from his serious illness. The archaeological context suggests that the inscription may belong to Phase VI or VII of the existence of the building (mid-5th - late 6th c.). Of the two, Phase VII is more plausible.


Edition: Frösén, J., Fiema, Z.T., "Greek inscriptions from the monastery" in: Z.T. Fiema, J. Frösén, M. Holappa (eds.), Petra – The Mountain of Aaron, vol. 2: The Nabataean Cultic Complex and the Byzantine Monastery (Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 2016), no. 20. Further reading: Frösen, J., "From carbonized papyri to the monastery of Saint Aaron at Petra: The 'Last will' of Mr. Obodianos (P.Petra inv. 6a)", in: T. Derda, A. Łajtar, J. Urbanik (eds.), Proceedings of the 27th International Congress of Papyrology: Warsaw 29.07—3.08 2013 (Journal of Juristic Papyrology Supplement 28, Warsaw: the Raphael Taubenschlag Foundation, 2016), 2019. Frösén, J., Miettunen, P., "Aaron in religious literature, myth and legend", in: Z.T. Fiema, J. Frösén (eds.), Petra – The Mountain of Aaron, vol. 1: The Church and the Chapel (Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 2008), 5-25.

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