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E02465: Greek floor-mosaic inscriptions from the church (naos, hagios topos) of the *Apostles in Madaba (Roman province of Arabia/Jordan), commemorating the construction and paving of the shrine, and listing a number of donors. Dated 578/579.

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posted on 06.03.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. H. 0.30 m; W. 1.50 m. Seen in the church in 1902 by Giuseppe Manfredi and first published by him that year in Nuovo Bullettino di Archeologia Cristiana and La Revue biblique. Now lost. For a list of editions and alternative readings, see I. Jordanie 2.

(palm) ἐπὶ τοῦ ὁσιω(τάτου) κ(αὶ) ἁγιω(τάτου) Σεργίου ἐπισκό(που)
ἐτελιώθη ὁ ἅγιος τόπος τῶν Ἀπο-
στόλων ἐν χρ(όνοις) [ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ι]̣β΄̣ἐ̣ν ̣ἔτη υογ΄ (palm)

'(palm) Under the most venerable and most holy bishop Sergios was completed this holy place (hagios topos) of the Apostles. In the times of the 1[2th indiction], in the year 473. (palm)'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 141.

Inscription 2:

The inscription is in one line, in reddish letters, on a white band between an outer set of four circular bands in different shades of red and an inner set of six greenish bands, framing a large medallion positioned in the middle of the nave. The medallion shows a personification of the Sea (a female bust), as stated by an attached mosaic label, and fish, dolphins, and birds. The bust resembles images of Syrian goddesses, and those of Tyche, frequently portrayed on coins in Madaba. Diameter of the medallion: 2.20 m; diameter of the inner circle: 1.75 m. Letter height 0.10 m (inscription); 0.16 m (label).

First published by Louis-Hugues Vincent in La Revue biblique in 1902. Then re-edited by a number of scholars. See I. Jordanie 2.

(palm) Κ(ύρι)ε ὁ θ(εό)ς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν, δὸς ζωὴν Ἀναστασίῳ καὶ Θωμᾷ καὶ Θεοδώρᾳ κ(αὶ) Σαλαμανίου ψηφ(οθέτου)

Θάλασσα

'(palm) O Lord, God, who created Heaven and Earth, give life to Anastasios and Thomas and Theodora and the mosaicist Salamanios!'

'(The) Sea.'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 142.

Inscription 3:

Fragmentary mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata (of red and black bands). Found during the excavations in the church in 1967 in the west room of the north annex, above a mosaic with lambs and gazelles. Dimensions H. 0.20 m; W. 2.16 m. Letter height 0.09 m. Black letters on white background. Published by Martin Noth in Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins in 1968, by Ute Lux in La Revue biblique in 1969, and by Pierre-Louis Gatier in I. Jordanie 2 in 1986.

ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁ[γιωτάτου ἐπι]̣σ̣κ(όπου) Ἰωάννου ἐψηφώθ(η) ὁ τόπ(ος)
οὗτος σπουδῇ Ἰωάννου εὐλαβεστ(άτου) μοναχοῦ

'Under the [most holy] bishop Ioannes was paved this holy place (hagios topos) by the zeal of Ioannes, the most pious monk.'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 144.

Inscription 4:

Mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata (of red and black bands). Found during the excavations in the church in 1967 in the middle room of the north annex, above a mosaic with trees, hares and gazelles (?). Damaged in the lower right-hand corner. Dimensions H. 0.60 m; W. 1.26 m. Letter height 0.085 m. Black letters on white background. Published by Martin Noth in Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins in 1968, by Ute Lux in La Revue biblique in 1969, and by Pierre-Louis Gatier in I. Jordanie 2 in 1986.

Κ(ύρι)ε, πρόσδεξε τὴν προσ-
φορὰν τῶν καρποφορισάν-
των (καὶ) καρποφορούντων
τῷ ναῷ τῶν ἁγίω(ν) ἀποστό-
λων εἰς μνήμ(ην) Ἰωά[ννου] π-
ρεσβ(υτέρου) σπουδῖ Ἀναστ[ασίου δι]ακόνου

'O Lord, accept the offering of former and present donors to the church (naos) of the Holy Apostles. In memory of the presbyter Ioannes, by the zeal of the deacon Anastasios.'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 143.

History

Evidence ID

E02465

Saint Name

Apostles (unspecified) : S00084

Image Caption 1

Photograph of Inscription 2. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XXVIII.

Image Caption 2

Photograph of Inscription 4. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XXVIII.

Image Caption 3

Photograph of Inscription 4 and mosaic of the middle annex. From: Michel 2001, 327.

Image Caption 4

Transcription of Inscription 1. From Manfredi 1902, 134.

Image Caption 5

Plan of the church. From: Michel 2001, 327.

Image Caption 6

Plan of the city. From: Michel 2001, 303.

Image Caption 7

Colour photograph of Inscription 2. From: http://198.62.75.1/www1/ofm//sbf/escurs/Giord/04aGiordEs.html

Image Caption 8

Drawing of Inscription 1. From: Manfredi 1902 (Rev. bibl.), 426.

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

550

Evidence not after

650

Activity not before

550

Activity not after

650

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Madaba

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

Madaba 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

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Merchants and artisans Other lay individuals/ people

Source

The church of the Apostles in Madaba lies in the south sector of the city, at some distance from other known sanctuaries. The church was a three-aisled basilica (c. 23.50 m x c. 15.30 m) probably with an inscribed apse flanked by two chambers (now lost, but seen by Giuseppe Manfredi in 1902, see below). The church had a narthex/vestibule at its west end. At some point the south aisle was separated from the rest of the church by a wall. An interesting feature of the building is a large annex adjoining the west end of the north wall. The annex consisted of three rooms and housed floor mosaics. Remnants of a probably late pulpit were found in the nave, and benches were set against the walls of the aisles. The floors of the church are richly decorated with mosaics. The aisle contains rectangular carpet mosaics with geometric patterns. The carpet mosaic of the nave is framed by a border of acanthus. The inner field shows dozens of pairs of parrots among trees and other plants. Its centre is occupied by a medallion with a personification of the Sea. In front of the choir runs a band showing pairs of various birds, vases, and plants. Each of the rooms of the north annex contains a framed rectangular mosaic. The westernmost shows two lambs flanked by two gazelles among trees. The central one shows three diagonally positioned trees and pairs of hares and gazelles (?). The southernmost consists of chevrons containing depictions of birds and plants. It has been suggested that the church was damaged during the Persian occupation, then rebuilt and ultimately destroyed before the rise of iconoclastic movements (as the mosaic floors are very well preserved). The site was first recorded by Giuseppe Manfredi in 1902. He noted the presence of floor mosaics including our Inscription 1. Proper excavations started in 1967, and were supervised by Ute Lux on behalf of the Deutsches Evangelisches Institut für Altertumswissenschaft des Heiligen Landes. The excavators were disappointed to find the church in a much worse condition than during the surveys of Manfredi. The mosaic floors were lifted, restored, and then reinstalled in their original places in 1990. In 1997 there followed surveys in the narthex by the Franciscan Archaeological Institute.

Discussion

The inscriptions refer to the completion of several sections of the church. Inscription 1, which is now lost, is presumably the building inscription for the whole sanctuary, that was set near the chancel screen. Its date, the year 473, is computed according to the era of the province of Arabia and corresponds to AD 578/579. A bishop Sergios is also mentioned in the dating formula. Inscription 2, which occupies a prominent place in the nave, probably lists the main donors. The text is a mixture of Psalms 143,3, 115,15 and 113,23. Inscriptions 3 and 4 probably commemorate the paving or construction of annexed rooms. The former of the two probably mentions another bishop, Ioannes, whom Gatier identified with the homonymous bishop mentioned in the dedicatory inscription of the cathedral church of Madaba, dated 562 (E02424). Importantly, Inscription 1 and 4, mention unspecified Apostles as patrons of the sanctuary. We cannot be sure whether the whole Twelve are meant here or just *Peter and *Paul who were venerated together in Gerasa/Jerash (E02366) and Riḥāb (E02053, E02054). Inscription 4 contains an invocation of the help of God to former and present contributors, which implies that the shrine was several times refurbished. This is also supported by the archaeological context. Noth attempted to use the inscriptions to suggest a tentative chronology of the site. He argued that the earliest structure was the middle room of the annex (which mentions bishop Ioannes), and that it was followed by the construction of the basilica in 578/579 under bishop Sergios and later of the west annex. As the west annex was built in memory of a certain presbyter Ioannes, Noth suggested that this could be a burial chapel and Piccirillo speculated that the whole church could be sited in the middle of a cemetery. Anne Michel, however, refutes these theories as lacking solid backing.

Bibliography

Edition: Inscription 1: Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), no. 141. Piccirillo, M., Chiese e mosaici di Madaba (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1989), 104. Manfredi, G., "Scoperta di antichi musaiei cristiani in Madaba (Palestina)", Nuovo bullettino di archeologia cristiana 8 (1902), 134-135. Manfredi, G., "Nouvelle mosaique a inscription a Madaba", La Revue biblique 11 (1902), 426 (with a drawing of Inscription 1). Inscription 2: Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), no. 142. Inscription 3: Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), no. 144. Inscription 4: Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), no. 143. 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), 325-328, no. 124. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1971), 690.

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