1/1
10 files

E02366: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions with poems commemorating the construction of a church dedicated to the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008), and two stone reliquaries. Found at Gerasa/Jerash (Roman province of Arabia). Probably mid-6th or early 7th c.

online resource
posted on 12.02.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Rectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. H. 0.70 m; W. 2.98 m (with ansae 3.68 m). Letter height 0.10 m. Now in the Gallery of Fine Art, Yale University. Each line contains one hexameter verse. The Ansae are decorated with 'spades'. Positioned in the middle of the nave, immediately above depictions of Egyptian cities: Pharos, Alexandria, and Memphis. Recorded by the expedition of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem in 1929 and first published by Charles Welles (with restorations by A.H.M. Jones) in 1938. Reprinted by Reinhold Merkelbach and Josef Stauber in Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten. In 2009 a new edition and comments were offered by Andreas Rhoby in his corpus of Byzantine mosaic inscriptions with dedicatory poems.

[ἦ μά]λα θαύματα καλὰ φέ[ρει πᾶ]ς ἱεροφάντης
̣ἀ̣νθρώποις οἳ τήνδε πόλιν καὶ ̣γαῖαν ἔχουσιν,
οὕνεκεν οἶκον ἔδειμε μαθηταῖς πρωτοστάταις
Πέτρῳ καὶ Παύλῳ, τοῖς γὰρ σθένος ἄνθετο Σωτήρ,
ἀργυρέοις κόσμοισι καὶ εὐβαφεέσσι λίθοισιν
κλεινὸς Ἀναστάσιος, θεομήδεα πιστὰ διδάσκων

1. φ[έρει ἐμὸ]ς Merkelbach & Stauber, φέ[ρει πᾶ]ς Rhoby, Welles (after Jones)

'+ Truly [every] (?) hierophant (priest) brings beautiful wonders to the people who possess this city (polis) and land. That is why the glorious Anastasios, who teaches the faithful and divine arts, built this house (oikos), with silver decorations and colourful stones, to the principal disciples (mathetai protostatai), Peter and Paul, because upon them the Saviour laid the power (sthenos).'

Text: Rhoby 2009, no. Me6. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

Inscription 2:

Fragmentary rectangular mosaic panel, probably framed by a tabula ansata. H. 0.44 m; preserved W. 1.44 m. Letter height 0.09 m. Each line contains one hexameter verse. Positioned in the middle of the nave, to the west of the Inscription 1. Recorded by the expedition of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem in 1929 and first published by Charles Welles (with restorations suggested by Michael Rostovtzeff) in 1938. The mosaic is now in the Phelps Hall, Yale University.

[- - -]̣ΗΤΟΥ ψηφὶς πολὺ φερτέρα ΑΤ.[- - -]
[ὀκτω]καιδεκάπη̣χυς ΕΚ̣Λ[.]̣Ι̣ΑCΕΝ ἠχ[ήεσσα]
[σὺν μα]λακαῖς προχοαῖς ἔδα[φο]̣ς ̣δ' ε[ὔσχημον ἔθηκας],
[κύρ]̣ι' ̣Ἀναστάσιε, κρατ̣ε̣οφρ̣ο[νιμώτατος ἀνδρῶν].

1. possibly ἀτρ[είοιο] Welles || 2. ΕΚ̣Λ or ΕΚ̣Α Welles

'[- - -] O mosaic, so richly framed [- - -] eighteen cubits [- - -] sounding (?), so decent one with soft flows you spread over the ground. [O lord] Anastasios, the most prudent [of all men]!'

Text: I. Gerasa, no. 328. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

Inscription 3:

Rectangular panel at the east end of the north aisle. H. 0.31 m; W. 2.28 m. Letter height 0.08-0.09 m. Each line contains one hexameter verse. Recorded by the expedition of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem in 1929 and first published by Charles Welles (the text was actually established by A.H.M. Jones) in 1938. Reprinted by Reinhold Merkelbach and Josef Stauber in Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten.

ψηφίς, τίς σ’ ἀνέθηκεν; ὁ δώματα ταῦτα τελέσσας.
τίς δ’ ὁ γραφεὶς ποιμήν; τίνος εἵνεκα ἔργα πιφαύσκει;
οὔνομ’ Ἀναστάσι̣ο̣ς, [Π]έτρα πτόλις, ̣ε[ὖ]χος ὁ Σωτήρ

3. οὔνομ’ Ἀναστάσιος, [Π]έτρα πτόλις Feissel, οὔνομ’ Ἀναστάσιος [τ]ετράπτολις Welles (after Jones)

' "O mosaic, who offered you?" "The one who completed this edifice." "Who is the shepherd depicted (there)?" "For whose sake has he proclaimed (his) deeds?" "His name is Anastasios, (native) of the city of Petra, the Saviour is his desire." '

Text: I. Gerasa, no. 330 with a completion in line 3 from Feissel 1989. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

History

Evidence ID

E02366

Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Πέτρος Παῦλος

Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. From: Kraeling 1938, Pl. LXXVa.

Image Caption 2

Inscription 2. From: Kraeling 1938, Pl. LXXVIc.

Image Caption 3

Inscription 3. From: Kraeling 1938, Pl. LXXVIa.

Image Caption 4

Plan of the city. From: Michel 2001, 225.

Image Caption 5

Plan of the church. From: Michel 2001, 254.

Image Caption 6

Photograph of the church, as seen in 1929. From: Michel 2001, 256.

Image Caption 7

Reconstruction of the interior of the church by Crowfoot. From: Comte 2012, 214.

Image Caption 8

Reliquary no. 1, as seen in 1929. From: Michel 2001, 254.

Image Caption 9

Reliquary no. 1, as seen by Anne Michel in the 1990s. From: Michel 2001, 254.

Image Caption 10

Lid of reliquary no. 2. From: Michel 2001, 254.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures Literary - Poems Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

540

Evidence not after

630

Activity not before

540

Activity not after

630

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gerasa/Jerash

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

Gerasa/Jerash 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

Cult Activities - Relics

Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Reliquary – institutionally owned

Source

The church of Peter and Paul, identified as such by the text of Inscription 1, is situated on a hill in the southwest sector of Jerash, near the necropolis. The site was excavated by the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem in the spring of 1929. Only foundations and remnants of the floors were then still extant. The church appeared to have been a three-aisled basilica (31.80 m x 18.50 m) with three apses separated from the nave and aisles by a chancel screen. The main apse had a synthronon. The excavators did not record any traces of the altar, but a stone reliquary (H. 0.58 m; W. 0.55 m; Th. 0.52 m; cippus type) with three cavities was found in the centre of the central apse, c. 1.20 m from the synthronon (for a reliquary similarly positioned in front of the synthronon, see the church of *George in Jerash: E02367). That this was the original location of the reliquary has been questioned by Anne Michel who suggests that it might have been originally located in one of the niches of the side apses (see below). Another reliquary (or rather only its lid, with acroteria and and a hole for pouring in oil) was found in the church. The lid does not match the reliquary from the apse. For detailed descriptions of these reliquaries, see Comte 2012, 212-215. Remnants of carpet mosaics, decorated with geometric patterns, were found at the east end of both aisles. Inscription 3 was embedded in the floor of the north aisle. The nave contained an almost completely destroyed high quality mosaic showing: Egyptian cities among trees, surrounded by walls and labelled 'Pharos', 'Alexandria' (with a large domed church), and 'Memphis'; an amphora encircled by vine shoots and grapes; and dedicatory poems framed by tabulae ansatae (Inscription 1 and the poorly-preserved Inscription 2). The mosaic of the nave was lifted and is now in the Gallery of Fine Art, Yale University. For a similar mosaic, see the church of *John the Baptist in Jerash (E02367). Traces of a pulpit were found at the south end of the chancel screen. A chapel with an apse was attached to the outer wall of the north aisle. That apse had a niche similar to those in the side apses of the church (c. 0.75 m wide, c. 0.45 m deep; positioned c. 0.80 m above the ground), which it is believed could have been meant for reliquaries. An atrium with porches was present in front of the west wall of the church. The church was probably several times refurbished after its construction and in the 8th c. partially converted into dwellings.

Discussion

The inscriptions commemorate the construction of the church by archbishop Anastastios and boastfully praise his undertaking. Inscription 1 is the longest of the extant texts and describes the circumstances of the foundation of the church in a most thorough way. It is also our primary evidence for the dedication of the sanctuary. In line 3 we read that the holy patrons are μαθηταὶ πρωτοστάται Πέτρος καὶ Παῦλος/'the principal disciples Peter and Paul'. Andreas Rhoby notes that the term mathetai protostatai is uncommon in inscriptions but is used, for example, by Asterios of Amaseia in one of his sermons (Hom. X 10,2). We also learn that these saints deserve special veneration, as God bestowed upon them a peculiar power (sthenos). The term appears already in the Iliad, as do other phrases used in this sophisticated poem. Anastasios himself is not termed simply 'archbishop', but 'hierophantes' and 'teacher of the faithful and divine arts' (θεομήδεα πιστὰ διδάσκων with θεομῆδος being a hapax, probably coined after θεολογία). Jones and Welles, who offered the original restoration of line 1, supposed that it read [ἦ μά]λα θαύματα καλὰ φέ[ρει πᾶ]ς ἱεροφάντης | ἀνθρώποις οἳ τήνδε πόλιν καὶ γαῖαν ἔχουσιν/'Truly [every] (?) hierophant (priest) brings beautiful wonders to the people who possess this city (polis) and land' and that Anastasios imitated his predecessors, also generously founding churches. However, Merkelbach and Stauber argue for a different restoration, suggesting that Anastasios refers only to his own deeds in this line: [ἦ μά]λα θαύματα καλὰ φ[έρει ἐμὸ]ς ἱεροφάντης | ἀνθρώποις οἳ τήνδε πόλιν καὶ γαῖαν ἔχουσιν'/'+ Truly [this] (?) hierophant (priest) brings beautiful wonders to the people who possess this city (polis) and land'. Inscription 2 is poorly preserved, while Inscription 3 offers us a complete dialogue between a beholder and the mosaic of the north aisle. The mosaic says that its respondent can see an image of bishop Anastasios, which means that a mosaic or a wall painting, showing the bishop, was in its immediate vicinity. Line 3 of this inscription sheds light on the origin of Anastasios. Jones argued that the line should be restored οὔνομ’ Ἀναστάσιος, [τ]ετράπτόλις/'His name is Anastasios, (native) of Tetrapolis' (in north Syria). However, Denis Feissel plausibly altered this restoration to: οὔνομ’ Ἀναστάσιος, [Π]έτρα πτόλις/'His name is Anastasios, (native) of the city of Petra'. Dating: Sadly, none of our dedicatory inscription contains a dating formula. Anne Michel gives an account of two attempts to date the building: Crowfoot originally suggested that the mosaic of our church resembled those of the church of Prokopios in Jerash (E02365), dated 526/527, and the church of *John the Baptist (E02367), dated 531, and therefore argued for a date in the 540s. However, Pierre-Louis Gartier (1987) suggested that the date of the construction of our church should be moved to c. 601, as a letter of pope Gregory the Great to a certain Marianos, 'archbishop of Arabia', dated February 601, says that some relics were handed over in Rome to an envoy of that bishop (see E06420). Gatier presumes that Marianos must have been the archbishop of Jerash, as the see of Bostra (the only other archbishopric in the province of Arabia) was then held by Bishop Polyeuktos, and that the relics must have been of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, the principal saints of Rome. He concludes that our church was probably constructed to house the relics (the work being started by Marianos, and completed by Anastasios), and that a new cult of Peter and Pole arose in the province of Arabia in the early 7th c. This dating does correspond quite closely with the construction of the church of Peter in Riḥāb in 623, see E02054. Gatier's theory, however, does depend on us believing that the unnamed relics donated by Gregory in Rome were of the two apostles, and that they were important enough to provoke the building of a wholly new church (begun by one archbishop of Gerasa, and completed by another).

Bibliography

Edition: Inscription 1: Rhoby, A., Byzantinische Epigramme in inschriflticher Überlieferung, vol. 1: Byzantinische Epigramme auf Fresken und Mosaiken (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2009), no. Me6. Meimaris, Y., Makrigianni, N.S., Ἔρνος κύδιμον Παλαιστινῆς γαίης ᾿Ανθολογία ἐπιγραφῶν Παλαιστινῆς καὶ ᾿Αραβίας (Athens: , 2008), no. 9. Merkelbach, R., Stauber, J., Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten, vol. 4 (Stuttgart: Teubner, 2002), no. 21/23/05. Welles, C.B., 'The inscriptions', in: Kraeling, C.H. (ed.), Gerasa, city of the Decapolis (New Haven: American School of Oriental Research, 1938), 484, no. 327 and Pl. LXXVa. Inscription 2: Welles, C.B., 'The inscriptions', in: Kraeling, C.H. (ed.), Gerasa, city of the Decapolis (New Haven: American School of Oriental Research, 1938), 485, no. 328 and Pl. LXXVIc. Inscription 3: Meimaris, Y., Makrigianni, N.S., Ἔρνος κύδιμον Παλαιστινῆς γαίης ᾿Ανθολογία ἐπιγραφῶν Παλαιστινῆς καὶ ᾿Αραβίας (Athens: , 2008), no. 37. Merkelbach, R., Stauber, J., Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten, vol. 4 (Stuttgart: Teubner, 2002), no. 21/23/06. Welles, C.B., 'The inscriptions', in: Kraeling, C.H. (ed.), Gerasa, city of the Decapolis (New Haven: American School of Oriental Research, 1938), 485, no. 330 and Pl. LXXVIa. Further reading: Agosti, G., 'Saxa loquuntur? Epigrammi epigrafici e diffusione della paideia nell’Oriente tardoantico', Antiquité Tardive 18 (2010), 170. Comte, M.-Ch., Les reliquaires du Proche-Orient et de Chypre à la période protobyzantine, IVe-VIIIe siècles: formes, emplacements, fonctions et cultes (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 20, Turnhout : Brepols Publishers, 2012), 212-215. Crowfoot, J.W., Churches at Jerash. A Preliminary Report of the Joint Yale-British Expeditions to Jerash, 1928-1930 (Supplementary papers (British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem) 3, London: Council of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, 1931), 28-29, Pl. XIb-XIII. Feissel, D., "L'évêque, tires et fonctions d'après les inscriptions grecques jusqu'au VIIe siècle", in: Baritel, F., Duval, N., Pergola, Ph. (eds.), Actes du XIe Congrès International d'Archéologie Chrétienne: Lyon, Vienne, Grenoble, Genève et Aoste (21-28 Septembre 1986) (Rome: Ecole française de Rome, 1989), 813, note 61. Gatier, P.-L., 'Une lettre du pape Grégoire le Grand à Marianus évêque de Gerasa', Syria 64 (1987), 131-135. 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), 255-259, no. 87. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1989), 966; (2011), 623. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 39, 1659; 58, 1743; 59, 1966; 60, 1927.

Usage metrics

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports