Saint NameKosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, ob. 285/287 : S00385
Saint Name in SourceΚωσμᾶς καὶ Δαμηανός
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before580
Evidence not after600
Activity not before580
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcHippos/Sussita
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Hippos/Sussita
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesChildren
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceRectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. Dimensions not specified. Found in the south aisle of the baptistery of the cathedral church of Hippos/Sussita.
The cathedral complex of Hippos/Sussita was unearthed during excavations between 1952 and 1955 by Claire Epstein and Emmanuel Anati, on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums. The site lies to the south of the early main street (cardo), between the east gate and the former nymphaeum. The complex comprises a three-aisled basilica church (27 m x c. 18 m) with a single inscribed apse, an atrium, and an unusual baptistery: a smaller squarish basilica (15 m x 13 m) with three inscribed apses, accessible from the main church through a doorway in the north aisle. The central apse of the baptistery houses a cruciform baptismal font.
The inscription was first published in a photograph by Michael Avi-Yonah in 1957, and commented on by him in Hebrew. New editions were offered by the Ovadiahs in 1987, and by Claire Epstein and Vassilios Tzaferis in 1991. It has also been reprinted in a number of works, not entirely correctly rendering the text's peculiar spelling.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates an offering to Saints Kosmas and Damianos, the holy physicians, presumably the restoration of floor-mosaics in the baptistery by anonymous donors. Based on this inscription, Epstein and Tzaferis suppose that the baptistery, and probably also the cathedral, were dedicated to the saints, but this is not clear. None of the other mosaic inscriptions in the complex mentions the two saints, and they need not be the main figures venerated there.
Dating: the baptistery houses two more fragmentary floor mosaic inscriptions: a commemorative one in the north aisle (SEG 41, 1554), recording a vow made by one Prokopios, presbyter, for the repose of Petros and possibly one more person (Antona, known from the North-West Church in Hippos [E02968], according to a brilliant supposition of Adam Łajtar, see Młynarczyk 2011, 259-260), which mentions the month of January, and a medallion in the nave, containing the date (SEG 41, 1555): January of the year 654. This is apparently the Pompeian era of Hippos, so the date corresponds to January AD 591. The baptistery is clearly later than the main basilica of the cathedral. Although the date suggested by the excavators for the cathedral, the early 5th c., may be questionable, as it lacks a justified basis, the baptistery must be a later construction, as its floor is higher than that of the main basilica, and the builders used a different constructional technique (see Młynarczyk 2011, 255).
Gregg, R.C., Urman, D., Jews, Pagans and Christians in the Golan Heights. Greek and Other Inscriptions of the Roman and Byzantine Eras (South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism 140, Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1996), 24-25, no. 20 (after Epstein & Tzaferis 1991).
Epstein, C., Tzaferis, V., "The Baptistery at Sussita-Hippos", 'Atiqot 20 (1991), 93, no. 3.
Ovadiah, R. & A., Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaic Pavements in Israel (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1987), 136, no. 231 (with further bibliography).
Avi-Yonah, M., "An inscription of the oratorio of Sûsîta", 'Alon. Bulletin of the Department of Antiquities of the State of Israel 5/6 (1957), 33.
Bagatti, B., Antichi villaggi cristiani di Galilea (Jerusalem: Tipografia Dei PP. Francescani, 1971), 64-74.
Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 151 (with further bibliography).
Młynarczyk, J., "Churches and society in Nyzantine and Umayyad-period Hippos", ARAM 23 (2011), 253-284.
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), 460.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 16, 826 (16, 825; 37, 1490; 41, 1554-1555).