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E02040: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the laying of the mosaic in 'Church 95' in Khirbet es-Samra to the southeast of Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/the Roman province of Arabia), dedicated to a 'martyr' *John (almost certainly the Baptist, S00020), and invoking the help of the God of that Saint John. Probably earlier 7th c., possibly 634 or 638.

online resource
posted on 23.11.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
The inscription, which is very badly damaged, runs on two bands surrounding a circular mosaic panel.

Band 1:

[ἐπὶ τοῦ] ἁγιωτ(άτου) (καὶ) μακ̣α[ριωτ(άτου) Θε]ωδόρ̣ο[υ ἀρχ]ιἐπισ̣κ[(όπου) ἐψηφώθ]η τοῦ ἁγίου [(καὶ) ἐνδόξο]υ μάρ[τυ]̣ρος Ἰω[άν]̣νου

Band 2:

[ἐλέ]ϊσον, Κ(ύρι)ε, θ(εό)ς τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰ̣ω[άν]νου· Ἀγώ[σ]̣τ̣ω μ̣η[νὶ (?), σπουδῇ - - c. 6 letters - δ]ευτευρα(ρίου), [χρ]όνον ἑ[- - -]̣ης ἰ̣ν[δ(ικτιῶνος) ....]

1. ἁγίου [(καὶ) ἐνδόξο]υ μάρ[τυ]̣ρος Feissel, ἁγίου [τόπου το]ῦ μάρ[τυ]̣ρος Gatier || 2. ἑ[βδόμ]̣ης or ἑ[νδεκάτ(?)]̣ης Gatier

'Under the most holy and most blessed archbishop Theodoros, the floor-mosaic (of the shrine) of the holy [and glorious] martyr John was paved. O Lord, the God of Saint John, have mercy! In the month of August, [by the efforts of - - -] deuterarios, in the time of [the seventh (or: eleventh)] indiction [- - -].'

Text: Gatier 1998, 385, no. 72 with the comments by Denis Feissel in CEByz, 864.

History

Evidence ID

E02040

Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης

Image Caption 1

Plan of the site with churches. From: Khirbet es-Samra 1, 47.

Image Caption 2

Reconstruction of Church 95. From: Khirbet es-Samra 1, 53.

Image Caption 3

Photograph of the mosaic panel (1). From: Khirbet es-Samra 1, 390.

Image Caption 4

Photograph of the mosaic panel (2). From: Khirbet es-Samra 1, 391.

Image Caption 5

Photograph of the mosaic panel (3). From: Khirbet es-Samra 1, 391.

Image Caption 6

Photograph. From: Michel 2001, 198.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

620

Evidence not after

680

Activity not before

620

Activity not after

680

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gerasa/Jerash Khirbet es-Samra

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

Gerasa/Jerash Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Khirbet es-Samra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Source

Large circular mosaic panel, surrounded by two bands with a Greek inscription. Sadly, the central circle of the panel is lost and the bands with the inscription are fragmentarily preserved. H. of the inscribed field: 0.33 m. Letter height: 0.13 m. Some segments of the panel are now in the archaeological depot of Mount Nebo. First published by Pierre-Louis Gatier in 1998 from a photograph taken probably in 1982 (when Church 95 was excavated). Reprinted by Annie Sartre-Fauriat in 2000, based on the earlier edition. Church 95 is one of eight shrines excavated at the site by 1998. It is a three-aisled basilica, one of the larger churches at Khirbert es-Samra (19 x 17 m), located in the middle of the town. The church itself is supposed to be one of the oldest at the site.

Discussion

The inscription commemorates the paving of our church and says that it was dedicated to a 'martyr John'. The first editor, Pierre-Louis Gatier, supposed that this was probably a local martyr of Arabia, stating that the title 'martyr' suited neither *John the Baptist nor *John the Evangelist. The same opinion was expressed by Annie Sartre-Fauriat who also pointed out that a certain martyr John was venerated by an Arab phylarch in the village of Harran in the south frontier of the region of Lajat (to the southeast of Damascus) in a Greek-Arabic inscription dated 568 (see: E02143). We must note, however, that John the Baptist was venerated as a martyr by the early Christians (even though he was killed before the death of Jesus), and therefore he is very likely to be the saint mentioned in both texts, as his cult was widely spread in the East. The person who supervised or funded the laying of the mosaic is styled deuterarios, probably a deputy of an abbot. The presumed date of our mosaic is established by the reference to a certain archbishop Theodoros on Band 1. He is thought to be Theodoros, archbishop of nearby Bostra, who appeared in a dated inscription from Riḥāb (529 of the province of Arabia = AD 635, see: E02044). If so, our inscription is likely to date to the earlier 7th c. The partially lost indiction year date on Band 2 can be restored as either 'the month of August, in the eleventh indiction year' or 'the month of August, in the seventh indiction year'. Gatier says that the latter completion seems rather short, but it resembles the dating formula of another inscription from this site (E02036). If the latter restoration is correct, the date might correspond to August AD 638 which falls on the closest seventh indiction year to AD 635 (mentioned in the inscription from Riḥāb).

Bibliography

Edition: Gatier, P.-L., "Les inscriptions grecques et latines de Samra et Rihab", Humbert, J.-B., Desreumaux, A., Bauzou, Th. (eds.), Fouilles de Khirbet es-Samra en Jordanie, vol. 1: La voie romaine, le cimetière, les documents épigraphiques (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998), 390-392, no. 81. Further reading: Desreumaux, A., Humbert, J.-B., Thébault, G., Bauzou, Th., "Des Romains, des Araméens et des Arabes dans le Balqa' jordanien : les cas de Hadeitha - Khirbet es Samra", in: A. Borrut, M. Debié, A. Papaconstantinou, D. Pieri, J.-P. Sodini (eds.), Le Proche-Orient de Justinien aux Abassides : peuplement et dynamiques spatiales : actes du colloque "Continuités de l'occupation entre les périodes byzantine et abbasside au Proche-Orient, VIIe-IXe siècles," Paris, 18-20 octobre 2007 (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 19, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 285-304. Gatier, P.-L., "Les inscriptions grecques et latines de Samra et Rihab", Humbert, J.-B., Desreumaux, A., Bauzou, Th. (eds.), Fouilles de Khirbet es-Samra en Jordanie, vol. 1: La voie romaine, le cimetière, les documents épigraphiques (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998), 54 (description of the find-spot). Gatier, P.-L., "Inscriptions grecques, mosaïques et églises des débuts de l'époque islamique au Proche-Orient (VIIe-VIIIe) siècles", in: A. Borrut, M. Debié, A. Papaconstantinou, D. Pieri, J.-P. Sodini (eds.), Le Proche-Orient de Justinien aux Abassides : peuplement et dynamiques spatiales : actes du colloque "Continuités de l'occupation entre les périodes byzantine et abbasside au Proche-Orient, VIIe-IXe siècles," Paris, 18-20 octobre 2007 (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 19, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 14. Michel, A., Les églises d'époque byzantine et umayyade de Jordanie (provinces d'Arabie et de Palestine), Ve-VIIIe siècle: typologie architecturale et aménagements liturgiques (avec catalogue des monuments; préface de Noël Duval; premessa di Michele Piccirillo) (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), 197-199, no. 64. Sartre-Fauriat, A., "Georges, Serge, Élie et quelques autres saints connus et inédits de la province d'Arabie", in: Fr. Prévot (ed.), Romanité et cité chrétienne. Permances et mutations. Intégration et exclusion du Ier au VIe siècle. Mélanges en l'honneur d'Yvette Duval (Paris: De Boccard, 2000), 308. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1999), 576. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 864. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 48, 1938; 50, 1518.

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