Saint NameJohn the Baptist : S00020
John, Apostle and Evangelist : S00042
Saint Name in SourceἸωάννης
Image Caption 1Inscription 1. From: Gatier 1995, 399.
Image Caption 2Inscription 2. From: Gatier 1995, 400.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Inscriptions - Graffiti
Evidence not before450
Evidence not after700
Activity not before450
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcBosra
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Bosra
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsConstruction of cult buildings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
Merchants and artisans
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceThe inscriptions were carved on rock faces at a limestone quarry located c. 4 km to the southwest of Qaṣr al-Ḥallābāt. The site lies c. 40 km to the south of Bostra. The rocks also bear other Greek and Arabic inscriptions, which do not mention any saints; hence we do not discuss them here.
The collection was published by Pierre-Louis Gatier in 1995 with photographs. Gatier was notified about the site by Jean Marcillet-Jaubert, and examined the texts together with Ghazi Bisheh and François Villeneuve, who are the authors of the photographs.
DiscussionBoth inscription probably mention the same person: a certain Theodoros who was a deacon, held the post of financial supervisor of a church (epimeletes), and was a quaestor.
Gatier, the first editor, wonders whether the term quaestor, which is mentioned immediately after the name of the saint, could be the epithet of that figure (one Saint John the Quaestor), but he rightly concludes that we have no basis to suppose that a holy figure bearing such an epithet has ever existed. It is much more probable that the saint mentioned is either *John the Baptist or *John the Evangelist. The title quaestor refers to Theodoros. It denotes a municipal office and suggests that the church of John was located in Bostra which became a Roman colony in the early 3rd c. It is likely that our Theodoros was commissioned with bringing limestone blocks, possibly for the extension or refurbishment of his church, or for the construction of some secular civic buildings.
Other inscriptions from the quarry mention Sergios, son of Kastrikios, and Zenon, son of Prophyrios, a chief architect. Gatier guessed that they were all involved in the same undertaking, as the quarry was apparently not heavily used.
Based on the presence of carved crosses and the use of a Latin term for a municipal office, Gatier broadly dates the texts to the 5th-7th c.
Gatier, P.-L., "Inscriptions grecques des carrières de Hallabat", in: A. Hadidi (ed.), Studies in History and Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 5 (Amman: Department of Antiquities, 1995), 399-402.
Sodini, J.-P., "Marble and stoneworking in Byzantium, seventh-fifteenth centuries", in: A.E. Laiou (ed.), The Economic History of Byzantium. From Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, vol. 1 (Washington: , 2002), 153 (mentioned).
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 867.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 45, 1985-1986.