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E02044: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the completion of a church (naos) dedicated to *Menas (soldier and martyr of Abu Mena, S00073) and its paving with a mosaic. Found at Riḥāb, between Bostra and Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/the Roman province of Arabia). Dated 635.

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posted on 25.11.2016, 00:00 by Bryan
χάριτι Ἰησοῦ [Χ]ριστοῦ θεοῦ καὶ σωτήρος ἡμῶν ἐκτίσθη κ(αὶ)
ἐψηφόθη καὶ ἐτελιώθη ὁ ναὸς τοῦ ἁγίου Μηνᾶ, ἐπὶ Θεοδό-
ρου τοῦ ἁγιωτάτου καὶ θεοτιμήτου μητροπολίτου, ἐκ προσφο-
ρᾶς Προκοπίου Μαρτυρίου καὶ Κομητίσσης συμβίου καὶ τέκν-
ων αὐτῶν, ὑπὲρ ἀφήσεως ἁμαρτιῶν καὶ ἀναπαύσε-
ος γ[ον]έον. [ἐ]γράφη ἐν μηνὶ Μαρτίῳ χρόνον ὀγδόης ἰν(δικτιῶνος) τοῦ [ἔτους] φκθ΄

'Through the grace of Jesus Christ, God and our Saviour, the church (naos) of Saint Menas was founded and paved with mosaics, and completed. Under the most holy and God-fearing metropolitan (bishop) Theodoros, from the offering of Prokopios, son of Martyrios, and Kometissa, (his) wife, and their children. As a vow for the remission of sins and the repose of (his) parents. (This) was written in the month of March, in the time of the eighth indiction, the year 529.'

Text: Piccirillo 1981, 76-77. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

History

Evidence ID

E02044

Saint Name

Menas, soldier and martyr Abu Mena : S00073

Saint Name in Source

Μηνᾶς

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

635

Evidence not after

635

Activity not before

635

Activity not after

635

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gerasa/Jerash Riḥāb Bosra

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

Gerasa/Jerash Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Riḥāb Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Bosra 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 Other lay individuals/ people Women Children

Source

Framed mosaic panel. H. 0.71-0.725 m; W. 2.56 m. The frame consists of three bands: the inner one is white and red, and the upper and lower ones are simply red. Red letters on white background. Letter height 0.075-0.09 m. The church with its mosaics was discovered in 1958 on the north outskirts of the town and published by Ute Lux and Siegfried Mittmann in 1967. It is a small three-aisled basilica (15.20 x 5.75 m) with an apse flanked by two 'sacristies'. Our inscription was situated on the border between the nave and the north aisle, next to the choir, between two columns. The mosaic was republished in 1981 by Michele Piccirillo, and in 2000 by Marie Sartre-Fauriat, based on the original edition.

Discussion

The inscription commemorates three phases of the construction of the church where it was found: its foundation, paving, and completion (probably followed by its dedication). It also records that the church was funded as a vow by a local aristocratic family. Line 2 says that the church (naos) was dedicated to Saint Menas, presumably the martyr widely venerated in Egypt (especially in his major sanctuary in Abu Mena near Alexandria) and in Jerusalem. The first editor, Siegfried Mittmann supposed that another shrine (a martyrion) was mentioned in line 4, being probably a memorial of a local notable, Prokopios. However, Mittmann misunderstood the expression Προκοπίου Μαρτυρίου. The word Μαρτυρίου is not a designation of a church, but the name of Prokopios' father: Martyrios (as rightly pointed out by Michele Piccirillo). The date, given at the end of the inscription, is computed according to the era of the province of Arabia. Its year 529, together with the eighth indiction year and the month of March, correspond to 1-21 March 635. The inscription is thus important for the chronology of the metropolitan bishops of nearby Bostra, as one of them, Theodoros, is mentioned in line 3. It is supposed that the same person occurs in a number of dedicatory inscriptions from nearby towns, and their approximate date is usually established based on our text. Piccirillo notes that the date falls in the period when the region had recently been recovered from the Persian occupation.

Bibliography

Edition: Piccirillo, M., Chiese e mosaici della Giordania settentrionale (Jerusalem: Franciscan Print. Press, 1981), 76-77. Mittmann, S., "Die Mosaikinschrift der Menas-Kirche in Rihab", Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 83 (1967), 42-45. Lux, U., "Der Mosaikfussboden der Menas-Kirche in Rihab", Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 83 (1967), 34-41. Further reading: 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), 217, no. 77. Piccirillo, M., "Les antiquités de Riḥāb des Benê Ḥasan", Revue Biblique 88 (1981), 64-65. Piccirillo, M., "Aggiornamento delle liste episcopali delle diocesi in territoria transgiordanico", Liber Annuus 55 (2005), 387. 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), 311. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1982), 465. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 30, 1711-1716; 50, 1518.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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