Saint NameUnnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060
Image Caption 1From: Lifschitz 1970, Tafel V.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after550
Activity not before500
Activity not after550
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcEl Bassah
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)El Bassah
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceThe text comes from a floor-mosaic excavated at Hanotha/Hanita/Khirbet Hanuta. The floor-mosaics found there suggest the presence of a basilica (c. 17 x c. 14 m), with a distinguishable nave and a narthex. In the narthex two inscriptions were reportedly found, close to images of a boar with two trees, and a hare eating grapes. Ruth and Asher Ovadiah say that 'each [of the inscriptions] is set in a tabula ansata. One records the completion of the building and of the mosaic (the date is destroyed) during the term of office of the members of the clergy whose names appear in the inscription. The second is an inscription of dedication and blessing (also partly destroyed).' The text which we present is certainly from the latter panel.
The mosaics were unearthed in 1940, and cleared by Michael Avi-Yonah in 1949. In 1954 Moshe Prausnitz excavated the site. As far as we know, reports of the excavations have not been published, although several short accounts are accessible (see Madden 2014, 181, no. 263 and the Ovadiahs 1987, no. 89). The text of the second inscription was first published by Baruch Lifschitz in 1970, with a photograph. The depictions of animals were described, commented on, and published with photographs by Moshe Barasch in 1974.
DiscussionWhether the inscription really refers to a martyr or a martyr shrine is rather unclear. Line 1 apparently contains an abbreviation which can plausibly be expanded as the term μάρτυς/'martyr' or μαρτύριον/'martyr shrine'.
Dating: The floor-mosaics were laid probably in the first half of the 6th c., as suggested by their style and by pottery finds.
Lifschitz, B., "Notes d'épigraphie grecque", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 6 (1970), 63-64, no. 5.
Avi-Yonah, M., "", ʿAlon maḥleḳet ha-ʿatiḳot shel medinat Yiśraʼel 3 (1951), 11 [in Hebrew].
Barasch, M., "Animal imaginery in the Hanita Mosaics", Israel Exploration Journal 24 (1974), 222-226 (with further bibliography).
Di Segni, L., Tsafrir, Y., Green, J., Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea-Palaestina: Eretz Israel in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Periods: Maps and Gazetteer (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1994), 139.
Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 181, no. 263 (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), 114, no. 621.
New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, 310.
"Other discoveries", Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 10 (1944), 203.
Ovadiah, R. & A., Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaic Pavements in Israel (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1987), no. 89, and Pl. LXIX-LXX.
Prausnitz, M., "" in: Western Galilee-Qishon Project: General Description (Tel Aviv: Tahal, 1956), 68-68 (with photographs).
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), 302.
Bulletin épigraphique (1971), 690.
Chronique archéologique, in: La Revue biblique 63 (1956), 98-99.