Saint NameElijah, Old Testament prophet : S00217
Saint Name in SourceἨλίας
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after700
Activity not before500
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcHit (Ḥeiṭ) in the Yarmouk Valley
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Hit (Ḥeiṭ) in the Yarmouk Valley
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Use of Images
- Public display of an image
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
Ecclesiastics - abbots
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceFloor mosaic lacking a frame. Dimensions not specified. Set in the floor of the choir, to the north of its main mosaic, near the north wall. Line 1: red letters; line 2: black letters. Probably restored in Antiquity.
Found in a one-aisled, 'semi rock-cut' church, one of the churches in a monastic complex at Hit in south Syria, in the Yarmouk Valley, housing a total of five mosaic inscriptions. First published by Pierre-Louis Gatier in 2009 with permission of Director-General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria, from photographs by Widad Khoury.
Based on the contents of other mosaic inscriptions, Gatier distinguished four phases of the existence of the church. The present inscription probably belongs to the earliest phase, but was presumably restored at a later point (the 'third stage', dating to the 6th c.).
DiscussionThe inscription is supposed to have labelled an image of Elijah, probably the Old Testament prophet, displayed on the north wall of the choir (now lost). Elijah, seen by early Christians as a precursor of the monastic movement, would fit the monastic character of the complex. Gatier adds that the church could have been built near a cave, possibly venerated as a temporary dwelling of Elijah.
None of the preserved inscriptions contains an intelligible dating formula. The main building inscription (SEG 59, 1727) is set at the east end of the nave, in front of the choir. It says that the church (hagia ekklesia) was paved under bishop Kasiseos, identified by Gatier as a bishop of Dion rather than of Hippos or Adraha. Three presbyters are mentioned as supervisors, and Afthonios, former magistrianos /agens in rebus, and Abraamios and Ioannes as donors. Another inscription from the choir (SEG 59, 1729), mentions Petros, presbyter and abbot (archimandrites).
Gatier, P.-L., "Mosaïques inscrites de Hit (Syrie du Sud)", Tempora. Annales d'histoire et archéologie (Université Saint-Joseph, Beyrouth) 18 (2007-2009), 64-65, no. 5.
For a description of the site, see: Al-Muhammad, Q., "[Discovery of a church at Hit in the Hauran, an example of ancient ecclesiastical architecture [in Arabic]", Al-Athar 4 (September/October 2002), 38-41.
Bulletin épigraphique (2010), 611.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 59, 1726.