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E04098: Floor-mosaic with a fragmentary Greek inscription, probably referring to a martyr or martyr shrine (martyrion). Found at Hanotha/Hanita/Khirbet Hanuta near El Bassah (northwest Galilee/Roman province of Phoenicia I). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2017-10-02, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
[+ ἐθέλειώθη τοῦτο τὸ ἔ]ργον τοῦ μαρτυ-
[ρίου - - - - - ταύτ]ης τῆς κώμης·
[Κ(ύρι)ε μνήσθητι τῶν καρπ]οφορησάντων

1. possibly μάρτυ(ρος) or μαρτυ(ρίου), ...TON τοῦ Μάρτυ(ρου?) (sic!) Madden, ...τον τοῦ μάρτυ(ρος?) Meimaris || 2. e.g. [ὑπουργήσι] || ταύτ]ης or πάσης

'[+] The work of [this] martyr shrine [was completed - - -] of this village. [O Lord, remember] the contributors!'

Text: Lifschitz 1970, 63-64, no. 5.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060

Image Caption 1

From: Lifschitz 1970, Tafel V.

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

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

El Bassah Tyre Hanotha/Khirbet Hanuta

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

El Bassah Thabbora Thabbora Tyre Thabbora Thabbora Hanotha/Khirbet Hanuta Thabbora Thabbora

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

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Peasants


The 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.


Whether 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.


Edition: Lifschitz, B., "Notes d'épigraphie grecque", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 6 (1970), 63-64, no. 5. Further reading: 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. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1971), 690. Chronique archéologique, in: La Revue biblique 63 (1956), 98-99.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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