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E02054: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the completion and paving of a church (naos) dedicated to *Peter (the Apostle, S00036). Found at Riḥāb, between Bostra and Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/the Roman province of Arabia). Dated 623.

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posted on 28.11.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιωτάτου καὶ μακαριωτάτου Πολύευκτου ἀρχιεπισκόπου
καὶ μητροπολίτου ἐψηφώθη καὶ ἐτελιώθη ὁ ναòς οὗτος τοῦ ἁγίου
ἀποστόλου Πέτρου ἐκ σπουδῆς καὶ καμάτων Γεωργίου Μαρτυρίου εὐλ(αβεστάτου)
ἀναγνώστου ἐν μηνὶ Λόῳ χρόνων ἑνδέκατης ἰνδι(κτιῶνος) τοῦ ἔτους φιη΄ τῆς ἐπαρχίας

'Under the most holy and most blessed archbishop and metropolitan Polyeuktos, this church (naos) of the holy Apostle Peter was paved with mosaics and completed by the efforts and from the offering of Georgios, son of Martyrios, the most pious lector. In the month of Loos, in the times of the eleventh indiction, in the 518th year of the province.'

Text: Piccirillo 1981, 81. Translation: P. Nowakowski.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E02054

Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036

Saint Name in Source

Πέτρος

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

623

Evidence not after

623

Activity not before

623

Activity not after

623

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Riḥāb Gerasa/Jerash Bosra

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

Riḥāb Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Gerasa/Jerash 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

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Source

Rectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata with semicircular ansae containing stylized images, probably of small plants with double leaves. Dimensions are not specified. Situated in the nave in front of the steps of the choir and the chancel screen. Remnants of the church and its floor-mosaics were discovered in 1979 near a private house, in the northwest sector of the town, between the church of the Holy Wisdom/Hagia Sophia (E02062) and a shrine of unknown dedication. The church was excavated by the Service of Antiquities of Jordan and was a very small three-aisled basilica with an apse (with preserved column bases for the altar) and two 'sacristies' (dimensions are not recorded). A cistern was found near the north wall. The mosaic of the nave contained squarish panels with labelled busts, probably of donors. All these figural depictions were destroyed during a period of iconoclasm. The dedicatory mosaic inscription of this church was first published by Michele Piccirillo in 1981, in Revue Biblique, and then republished by the same author in his corpus, Chiese e mosaici della Giordania settentrionale. In 2000 the inscription was reprinted by Annie Sartre-Fauriat, based on the first edition.

Discussion

The inscription commemorates the paving and completion of our church under Polyeuktos, metropolitan of nearby Bostra. The dating formula contains a reference to the 518th year of the province of Arabia and the 11th indictional year, which together correspond to AD 623. Therefore, it is the latest church built during the episcopacy of this metropolitan in Riḥāb. Other local churches dated by his name are: E02045, church of a martyr *Basil, AD 594; E02053, church of *Paul the Apostle, AD 596; E02062: church of the Holy Wisdom, AD 604; E02049: church of *Stephen the First Martyr, AD 620;E02637, the church *John the Baptist, AD 604 or 619. Michele Piccirillo notes that our church and the somewhat earlier church of Stephen were constructed during the Persian occupation of the region. The church was dedicated to Saint Peter. Unlike Paul, the patron of another church in the town (E02053), he is explicitly named 'Apostle'. Piccirillo believed that the cult of Peter and Paul was brought to Riḥāb from nearby Gerasa/Jerash, where the two saints were venerated in the same sanctuary (E02366). One must note, however, that our church of Peter was built 27 years after that of Paul, which emphasises the priority of the cult of Paul over that of his companion. The church was built from a donation of a certain Georgios, son of Martyrios. This Martyrios is unlikely to have been the same 'Martyrios' mentioned in the dedicatory mosaic of the local church of Mary in 533 (E02051), i.e. almost a hundred year earlier. Interestingly, the church of Paul in Riḥāb was also built by two sons of a certain Martyrios (Ioannes and Elias), see E02053. Whether they were related to our founder is, however, not clear.

Bibliography

Edition: Piccirillo, M., Chiese e mosaici della Giordania settentrionale (Jerusalem: Franciscan Print. Press, 1981), 80-82. Piccirillo, M., "Les antiquités de Riḥāb des Benê Ḥasan", Revue Biblique 88 (1981), 66-67. 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), 219. no. 79. Piccirillo, M., "Aggiornamento delle liste episcopali delle diocesi in territoria transgiordanico", Liber Annuus 55 (2005), 387. Piccirillo, M., "The Province of Arabia during the Persian Invasion (613-629/630)", in: K.G. Holum, H. Lapin (eds.), Shaping the Middle East. Jews, Christians, and Muslims in an Age of Transition, 400-800 C.E. (Bethesda, MD: University Press of Maryland, 2011), 104. 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), 310. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1982), 465. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 30, 1711-1716; 50, 1518; 61, 1476.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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