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E02395: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the construction of a martyr shrine (martyrion, clearly a chapel positioned near a basilica) of *Theodore (probably the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480; or *Theodoros, a local martyr of Philadelphia/Amman, S01215) and *Kyrikos (probably the child martyr of Tarsus, S00007), and an altar with a reliquary socket. Found at Khirbat Yâjûz near Philadelphia/Amman (province of Arabia/Jordan). Probably 6th c., possibly 508/509.

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posted on 19.02.2017, 00:00 by Bryan
ἐκτίσθ(η) τῶν σῶν σοὶ καὶ
ἐτελι(ώθη) τὸ ἅγιαν μα(ρ)τύρ(ιον) τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ
ἀθλοφ(όρου) μάρτυρ(ος) Θεοδώρου καὶ
Κηρύκου ἐπὶ τοῦ θεοφιλ(εστάτου) καὶ
ἁσιωτ(άτου) Θεοδοσίου ἐπισκ(όπου) κατὰ
σπουδὴ(ν) τοῦ θεοσεβ(εστάτου) Ἠλίου
πρεσβ(υτέρου) καὶ Ἰωάννου ἐπιστ(άτου) ἐπὶ τῆ-
ς δευτέρας ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ἔτι vacat

The transcription published in the first edition lightly differs from the actual text seen in the photograph. Here we present the correct transcription.

'This holy martyr shrine (martyrion) of the holy and prize-bearing (athlophoros) martyr Theodoros and Kerykos was built from Thine own unto Thee (O God) and completed under the most dear-to-God and most venerable bishop Theodosios, by the zeal of the most pious presbyter Elias and supervisor (epistates) Ioannes, in the 2nd indiction, year (?)'

Text: M. Piccirillo in Khalil 1998, 462-463 with improved transcription and diacritics by D. Feissel in CEByz, 882.

History

Evidence ID

E02395

Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480 Theodoros, Ioulianos/Julianus, Euboulos, Malkamon, Mokimos, and Salomone/Salamanes, martyrs of Philadelphia/Amman (province of Arabia/Jordan), ob. c. 303 :

Saint Name in Source

Θεόδωρος Θεόδωρος Κήρυκος

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures Archaeological and architectural - Altars with relics

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

750

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

750

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Philadelphia/Amman Khirbat Yâjûz

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

Philadelphia/Amman Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Khirbat Yâjûz Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Reliquary – institutionally owned

Source

Framed mosaic panel from a chapel at Khirbat Yâjûz (also known as Tal'at Nimr and al-Madraj) 9 km to the northeast of Philadelphia/Amman, near the main road to Shafa-Badrān. The chapel was first recorded by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the University of Jordan in 1995 at the so-called 'area B', situated near a cemetery, c. 100 m to the north of a large Christian basilica (28.00 m x 17.00 m) excavated in 1994. The excavations at 'area B' continued for three consecutive seasons (1995-1997). The chapel had an apse at its east end, flanked by two chambers. A marble base of the altar (1.30 m x 0.8 m x 0.42 m), probably with a reliquary socket, was recorded in the middle of the apse. The base has a sunken circular hollow (diameter c. 0.44 m; depth 0.15 m) with a carving of a cross, and four squarish holes in corners, designed to support small marble columns of the altar (fixed with lead inside these sockets). The nave (17.40 m x 9.75 m) of the chapel was separated from the apse by a chancel screen. The main entrance was located at the west end of the south wall and was accessible through stairs. Another doorway was cut in the middle of the north wall (but was blocked at some point). The roof of the chapel was made of tiles probably based on a wooden structure. The excavators say that the floors of the chapel were covered with mosaics that can be organised into two layers. They were dated, based on pottery sherds, to the 'Byzantine-Umayyad' period. The chapel is believed to have been destroyed by the earthquake of 749, and probably had two phases of occupation. The core of the chapel is surrounded by several rooms: from the west, north, and south side. The west room was the largest of them (8.25 m x 9.75 m) and had a vaulted roof. Our mosaic was set in the floor of this room, in front of the doorway, so that a person entering the nave from the room could read it. Below the frame with the inscription there was a mosaic rosette. The inscription was first published by Lutfi Khalil in 1998, in the report of the excavations (with a preliminary transcription by Michele Piccirillo). Although the book on the churches of Jordan by Anne Michele was published in 2001, the manuscript was completed before 1998 and the author did not know the text of our inscription (but was only aware of its existence).

Discussion

The inscription commemorates the construction of a martyr shrine (termed martyrion) of the martyrs Theodore and Kerykos. The spelling is very poor. Theodore is described as holy (ἅγιος) and prize-bearer (ἀθλοφόρος), but the epithets probably refer to both figures. The dedicatory formula contains a popular phrase <ἐκ> τῶν σῶν σοὶ/'from Thine own unto Thee (O God)', echoing the Liturgy of John Chrysostom and the Alexandrian Liturgy (see the comments in: E00565, E00898). It is clear that the mosaic was placed at the entrance to the chapel where the martyrs were venerated. As the chapel was placed near a cemetery, we can have here either burials ad sanctos (which is more plausible as the cemetery probably dates to the late antique period), or a martyr shrine built at the tombs of local martyrs. Khalil did not attempt to identify the mentioned martyrs. Normally one would think of Theodore, the soldier and martyr venerated in Euchaita in north Asia Minor, and Kyrikos/Quiricus, the child martyr of Tarsus in Cilicia, who were widely recognisable figures and whose cult was broadly spread in the East, as evidenced by numerous dedications of churches. However, the hagiographic background of Philadelphia/Amman suggests another possibility, especially regarding Theodore. Józef Tadeusz Milik in his 1960 paper on the ecclesiastical topography of Jordan points out that Philadelphia is mentioned as the setting of the 'Passion of six/eight martyrs of Philadelphia' (published by Blake and Peeters in Analecta Bolladniana 46 (1926), 70-101). The historic fidelity of this hagiographic work is disputed. It was preserved in a single Georgian manuscript and tells the story of one Theodoros and his fellow Christians executed in Bostra by the governor of the province of Arabia Maximus under the emperor Diocletian. The exact date of their martyrdom is not specified, but they were captured in Philadelphia and questioned in Bostra by the governor on 5th August, and are usually considered as the martyrs of Amman venerated in August according to the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (EXXXXX). Theodoros, the protagonist of the passion, is said to have suffered martyrdom together with a group of five other Christians: Ioulianos/Julianus, Euboulos, Malkamon, Mokimos, and Salomone/Salamanes. In addition two more people were imprisoned in the village: Moses and Silvanos. Sadly, none of them bears the name Kerykos/Kyrikos/Quiricus, but the presence of Theodore as the leader of this group is striking. Could he be the martyr mentioned in our inscription? As for the place of his cult, it is usually assumed that Theodoros of Philadelphia/Amman was venerated at a church built at the site of his own house, where he held meetings with fellow Christians. Based on a remark that its doorway was facing south, Milik identified the place described in this Passion with a chapel excavated in the west part of the town (the so-called 'western chapel' or 'chapel of Jabal al-Akdar', see Michel 2001, 283, no. 105) as this establishment had an unusual extension: a cave accessible through a doorway in its north wall, i.e. with the entrance facing south (cf. also E02381). Milik was, however, unaware of the present inscription and it is possible that the cult of Theodoros was actually based at Khirbat Yâjûz, and not at Jabal al-Akdar. For another church of Kerykos in Philadelphia/Amman, see E02394 Dating: the inscription contains only a date computed according to the indiction year cycle, which itself cannot be converted. As a bishop Theodosios is mentioned in line 5, the editor hypothesises that this might be Theodosios, bishop of Philadelphia attested in a dedicatory mosaic dated probably to AD 502/503 (I. Jordanie 2, no. 56). He concludes that the nearest 2nd indiction to that year falls on AD 508/509. This dating is, however, based on a very hypothetical assumption. The pottery found at the site comes from a later period (7th/mid-8th c.).

Bibliography

Edition: Khalil, L., "University of Jordan Excavations at Khirbat Yâjûz", Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 42 (1998), 457-472. 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), 286-288, no. 107 (description of the village). Milik, J.T., 'Notes d'épigraphie et de topographie jordaniennes', Liber Annuus 10 (1959-1960), 164-166. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2000), 682. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 882. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 48, 1918.

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