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E02557: Floor-mosaics with Greek dedicatory inscriptions commemorating the construction of a church dedicated to *Lot (Old Testament patriarch, S01234) and *Prokopios (probably the martyr of Skythopolis, S00118), invoking the God of these saints and the God of unnamed martyrs. Found at Khirbat al-Mukhayyat near Mount Nebo (Roman province of Arabia/Jordan). Probably 558 or 573.

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posted on 11.03.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Rectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. H. 0.52 m; W. 2.92 m. Letter height 0.08 m. Set in the floor of the nave, in front of the chancel screen.

(palm) ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιω(τάτου) κ(αὶ) ὡσιω(τάτου) Ἰωάννου εἰπισκό(που) ἐκτήσθη κ(αὶ) ἐτελιώθη ὡ ἅγιος τώπως σου δι (palm)
Βαριχα πρεσβυτήρου κ(αὶ) παραμοναρίου αὐτοῦ ἐν μηνὶ Νοεμβρίῳ χρόνον ἕκτιν ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος).
(palm) ὁ <θ>(εὸ)ς τοῦ ἁγίου Λὸτ κ(αὶ) τοῦ ἁγίου Προκοπίου πρόσδεξε τὶν προσφορὰν κ(αὶ) τὴν καρποφορ(ίαν)
Στεφάνου κ(αὶ) Ἠλία ἀδελφὸν τήκνα Κομίτισσα. (palm) ὁ θ(εὸ)ς τὸν ἁγίον μαρτύρον πρόσδεξε (palm)
τὴν καρποφορίαν Σεργίου κ(αὶ) Προκοπίου τέκνον αὐτοῦ. (palm) ὑπὲρ σωτηρίας Ραβαθας Ἀναστασίας
κ(αὶ) ὑπὲρ ἀναπαύσεως Ἰωάννου Ἀναστασίου κ(αὶ) ὑπὲρ ον προσένικεν. Κ(ύριο)ς γινόσκι τὼ ὠνόματα.

'(palm) Under the most holy and most venerable bishop Ioannes was built and completed this holy place (hagios topos) of Yours, through its presbyter and guardian (paramonarios) Barichas. In the month of November, in the times of the sixth indiction. (palm) O God of Saint Lot and of Saint Prokopios, accept the offering and the gift of Stephanos and Elias, brothers, children of Komitissa! (palm) O God of the holy martyrs, accept (palm) the gift of Sergios and Prokopios, his son! (palm) As a vow for the salvation of Rabatha, daughter of Anastasia, and for the repose of Ioannes, son of Anastatios, and for those who made offerings. The Lord knows their names.'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 97. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

Inscription 2:

Small rectangular mosaic panel, framed by a tabula ansata. H. 0.26 m; W. 1.14 m. Brown letters on white background. Set in the floor of the south aisle, in front of the entrance to the south chamber flanking the apse.

(palm) ἅγιε Λώτ, πρόσδεξε τὴν
προσευχὴν Ῥώμης (καὶ) Πορφυρ(ίας)
(καὶ) Μαρίας τῶν σῶν δουλίδων

'(palm) O Saint Lot, accept the votive offering (?) of Rhome, and Porphyria, and Maria, your servants!'

Text: I. Jordanie 2, no. 98.

History

Evidence ID

E02557

Saint Name

Lot, Old Testament Patriarch and nephew of Abraham : S01234 Prokopios from Scythopolis, martyr in Palestine, ob. 303 : S00118 Anonymous martyrs : S00060

Saint Name in Source

Λότ, Λώτ Προκόπιος ἅγιοι μάρτυρες

Image Caption 1

Photograph of Inscription 1. From: I. Jordanie 2, Pl. XXI.

Image Caption 2

Photograph of Inscription 1. From: Robinson 1914, 493.

Image Caption 3

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

Image Caption 4

Plan of the site. From: http://www.jordanjubilee.com/images2/madaba/madabaplateau/xplankhirbet.jpg

Image Caption 5

Plan of the church. From: Michel 2001, 346.

Image Caption 6

Mosaic in the choir. From: Michel 2001, 346.

Image Caption 7

Mosaic of the nave (east part). From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khirbet_al-Mukhayyat#/media/File:20100924_st_lot09a.jpg

Image Caption 8

Mosaic of the nave (west part). From: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/524036106617786697/

Image Caption 9

Photograph of Inscription 1. From: Piccirillo & Alliata 1998, 443.

Image Caption 10

Photograph of Inscription 2. From: Piccirillo & Alliata 1998, 346.

Image Caption 11

Photograph of Inscription 1 at the top of the carpet mosaic of the nave. From: Piccirillo & Alliata 1998, 346.

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

600

Activity not before

550

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Khirbat al-Mukhayyat Mount Nebo

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

Khirbat al-Mukhayyat Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Mount Nebo 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 Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Women Children Aristocrats Other lay individuals/ people

Source

The church of Lot and Prokopios lies in the north sector of the village. The church was a small three-aisled basilica (16.25 m x 8.65 m) with an inscribed apse flanked by two chambers. In the choir there are four slots for small pillars supporting the altar and a stone placed among them (but apparently with no traces of a reliquary socket). The church was richly decorated with carpet mosaics. The mosaic of the nave was framed by a double border of rose buds and geometric patterns mixed with gems, and divided into two rectangular fields. The east one shows numerous depictions of birds, animals, and people in hunting scenes, encircled by vinesprouts with grapes. The west field shows four diagonally positioned trees and pairs of oxen, hares, and deer. In front of the altar one can see two lambs flanking a tree and braid-like bands. Smaller rectangular panels with animals and birds flanking trees, and people (sailing and fishing), were set between the pillars of the nave. The mosaics in the aisles were decorated with geometric motifs and rose buds. The mosaics were not damaged by iconoclasts. Floor mosaics of the church were first mentioned by Alois Musil in 1901, but the attention of scholars was drawn to them later, in 1913 when the construction of a house was begun at the site and more sections of the mosaics were unearthed. Both inscriptions were first published in 1914 by Félix-Marie Abel from a copy by the Benedictine monk Maurizio Gisler (who was also an archaeologist and architect based in Jerusalem) and a photograph of Inscription 1 was published that year by Willard H. Robinson, Jr. The inscription was later republished a number of times and frequently quoted as our primary evidence for the cult of Lot, the Old Testament Patriarch, in the region of Mount Nebo. For a list of other editions and alternative readings, see the edition by Pierre-Louis Gatier (1986) and by Leah Di Segni (1998). The edition by Gatier, which we reproduce here, is based on an examination of the mosaics and on photographs. The church was properly (but still incompletely) excavated only in 1973 by Michele Piccirillo and the mosaics were restored.

Discussion

Inscription 1 is the proper building inscription for the church. It begins with a mention of bishop Ioannes, usually identified with the homonymous bishop of Madaba appearing in I. Jordanie 2, no. 133 dated 562. Providing that this identification is correct, and given the fact that our inscription mentions the 6th indiction year and the month of November, we can assume that the church was built either in 558 or 573, which are the closest two sixth indictions to the attested occurrence of that bishop Ioannes. We can note that the latter date coincides with the restoration of the monastery of Saint Lot at Deir 'Ain 'Abata (E02664). The inscription tells us that the work was supervised by the presbyter and paramonarios (guardian of the church) Barichas. Then follow invocations of the God of Saints Lot and Prokopios and of the God of the martyrs (unnamed). The first two saints are plausibly identified by Gatier respectively as Lot, the Old Testament Patriach and nephew of Abraham, and as Prokopios of Skythopolis, martyr in Caesarea in Palestine, whose story is told by Eusebius (see: E00296; reportedly the first Christian to be martyred in Palestine during the Diocletianic persecution). It is believed that the cult of Lot was popular in the vicinity of Mount Nebo, as the biblical story said that his offsprings (whom he unknowingly begot with his daughters) settled in the region of the mountain. As for the cult of Prokopios, it is notable that one of the donors bears the same name. The primary donors, Stephanos and Elias, are the same people who appear in the dedicatory inscription from the nearby church of *George, dated 535/536 (E02552). Inscription 2 is an interesting case of a dedication by three women: Rhome, Porphyria, and Maria. They ask Saint Lot alone to accept their proseuche. As the inscription is set in front of the chamber at the east end of the south aisle, Gatier argued that the women contributed to the construction of that chapel, and that one should translate the term as 'chapel' or 'sanctuary'. However, as Gatier himself notes, proseuche was normally used to denote synagogues in Jewish communities, and not Christian churches. Anne Michel plausibly suggested that in our context proseuche is more likely do denote a 'vow' or 'a prayer', which, of course, does not undermine the original supposition that the object of this vow was the embellishment or construction of a part of the church. In the same church we also have a dedicatory inscription by one Epiphania (I. Jordanie 2, no. 99) which does not mention any saint.

Bibliography

Edition: Di Segni, L., "The Greek Inscriptions", in: Piccirillo, M., Alliata, E. (eds.), Mount Nebo: new archaeological excavations, 1967-1997, vol. 2 (Jerusalem: Stadium Biblicum Franciscanum, 1998), 442, and 444, nos. 42 and 44. Gatier, P.-L., Inscriptions de la Jordanie, vol. 2: Région centrale (Amman, Hesban, Madaba, Main, Dhiban) (Paris: Librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1986), nos. 97 and 98. Saller, S.J., Bagatti, B., The town of Nebo (Khirbet El-Mekhayyat): with a brief survey of other Christian monuments in Transjordan (Jerusalem: Franciscan Press, 1949), 182-199, nos. 12 and 13. Lemaire, P., "Mosaïques et inscriptions d'el-Meḫayieṭ", La Revue biblique 43 (1934), 394-397. Robinson, W.H. (Jr.), "A newly discovered inscribed mosaic near Mt. Nebo", American Journal of Archaeology 18 (1914), 492-498 (with a photograph). Abel, F.M., "Inscriptions en mosaïque a el-Meḫayieṭ", La Revue biblique 11 (1914), 112-115 (from a copy by Maurizio Gisler: in a letter dated 1st December 1913). 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), 345-347, no. 127. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IV, La Palestine", Analecta Bollandiana 69 (1951), 73-74. Bulletin épigraphique (1952), 173. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 8, 336.

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