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E02632: Floor-mosaics with Greek inscriptions commemorating the paving and restoration of an unnamed martyr shrine (martyrion). Found at Khallit 'Īsā Ṣīr/Bayt Īdis (ancient kome Seron?) near Irbid in north Jordan (Roman province of Arabia). Dated, possibly 612/613.

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posted on 30.03.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Rectangular mosaic panel, framed by a tabula ansata. Set within the border of a carpet mosaic, against a wall (?).

ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγ(ιω)τάτου [π](ρεσ)β(υτέρου) Πορφυρᾶ καὶ
Καϊουμου [- - -]EKYTEPOIC ἐψιφόθη
τὸ μαρτύρουημ ἐν μηνὶ Πανήμου, ἐν
ἔτους ζφ΄, χρόνων ζ΄ ἰνδικτιõν(ος)

'Under the most holy presbyter Porphyras, and Kaioumos (?) [- - -] was paved this martyr shrine (martyrion). In the month of Panemos, in the year 507, in the times of the 7th indiction.'

Inscription 2:

Rectangular framed mosaic panel.

ἐπὶ τοῦ θεοσεβ(εστάτου) πα-
τρὸς ἡμῶν Αμερου
ἀνενεόθη τὸ μαρτύ-
ρην∙ Κ(ύρι)ε, μ<ν>ήσθηθι Κύρα-
τος Μαρίνου διακ(όνου)
τοῦ μακαρίου καὶ ἐνθ-
άδε κιμένο(υ), κὲ σõσον α-
ὐτῆς τὰ τέκνα Ἰλίου κὲ
Πορφυρίας κὲ ἐπίβλεψ-
ον αὐτῆς τὴν ὧδε σπο-
υδ[ὴν - - -]
ḤΜ[- - -]

3. ΜΗCΘΗΘΙ mosaic || 4-5. Κύρα|τος Feissel, Κυρᾶ(ς) | το<ῦ> SEG, ΚΥΡΑ|ΤΟC mosaic

'Under our most God-fearing father, Ameros, was restored this martyr shrine (martyrion). O Lord, remember Kyras, daughter of Marinos the deacon, the blessed one (i.e. deceased) and buried here, and save her children, Elias and Porphyria, and attend to her efforts here [- - -].'

Inscription 3:

Rectangular framed mosaic panel. The last line is longer than others. Set in a niche, in front of a stone casket (?).

Προσφορὰ Κύρας x
διακονίσσης ὑπὲρ
σοτηρίας αὑτῆς καὶ
ὑπὲρ ἀναπαύσεος Ἠλ-
ίου υἱοῦ καὶ Μαρίνου πατρ(ός)

'The offering of Kyra, the deaconess, as a vow for the salvation of herself and for the repose of Elias, (her) son, and Marinos, (her) father.'

Text: SEG 51, respectively 2060, 2065, and 2064, lightly adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E02632

Saint Name

Anonymous martyrs : S00060

Image Caption 1

Inscription 1 before cleaning. From: Melhem & al-Husan 2001.

Image Caption 2

Inscription 1 after cleaning. From: Melhem & al-Husan 2001.

Image Caption 3

Inscription 1. Drawing. From: Melhem & al-Husan 2001.

Image Caption 4

Inscription 2. From: Melhem & al-Husan 2002.

Image Caption 5

Inscription 3. From: Melhem & al-Husan 2001.

Image Caption 6

Inscription 3. Drawing. From: Melhem & al-Husan 2001.

Image Caption 7

Plan of the church. From: Melhem & al-Husan 2002.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

430

Evidence not after

620

Activity not before

430

Activity not after

620

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Arbela Khallit 'Īsā Ṣīr/Bayt Īdis

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

Arbela Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Khallit 'Īsā Ṣīr/Bayt Īdis 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 Children Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Officials Peasants Merchants and artisans

Source

The mosaics were found in a ruined church at Khallit 'Īsā Ṣīr/Bayt Īdis. Based on the contents of one of the inscribed mosaic panels (SEG 51, 2062), the ancient name of the site was 'kome Seron'. The church was a three-aisled basilica with an apse, with apparently one chamber flanking it on the south side, and a narthex. The floors of the nave and aisles were covered with, now partially lost, geometric carpet mosaics, and with images of birds, animals, and plants. Two squarish rooms, at least one of them also paved with mosaics, conjoined the narthex and the south aisle of the church. Inscriptions 1 and 3 were first published in 2001 by I. Melhem and A. al-Husan in the Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (in Arabic), with photographs, drawings, and very preliminary transcriptions. The next year the mosaics were read anew from photographs and commented on by Denis Feissel in BE. The same year Melhem and al-Husan published a second report on the excavations of the church, where they offered our Inscription 2 and yet another inscribed panel. The editors of the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum re-published the whole collection (which comprises seven texts) in the 51st volume of the series.

Discussion

All seven inscriptions commemorate the restoration of the church, as a vow and from the offering of the deaconess Kyras. Two of them describe the shrine as a martyrion, but we are not told, which martyr (if any) was venerated there. Inscriptions 2 and 3 should be read together, as they give us a glimpse of the family of the main donor. Inscription 3 openly says that both Elias, son of Kyras, and Marinos, her father, are deceased, and that Kyras held the function of a deaconess (diakonissa), while Inscription 2 adds that Marinos was buried in the church. Thus we can presume that the inscription alludes to a burial ad sanctos. As Elias is described as a living person in Inscription 2 (together with Porphyria, daughter of Kyras), and Kyras herself is not styled there as a deaconess, it is possible that Inscription 3 is somewhat later than inscription 2. Other panels found at the site mention lesser contributors. For example, a long list of donors appears in SEG 51, 2062: Kasiarion, the presbyter; Tiberios, the deacon; Anamos, Abbasob, another Anamos, Ioannes, Marinos, the elders and co-villagers; Elias, son of Nonnos; the deacons and brothers Besmos and German(os?); the monk Elias; the mosaicist Stephanos, and one Kaioumos. Another long, but fragmentary list (SEG 51, 2063), also mentions the clergy of the church, but the first editors offered a very faulty transcription, and the editors of SEG did not even attempt to reprint it. Sadly, there is no photograph which would allow one to read the text anew. The inscription, however, appears to be interesting, as it seems to designate the shrine as a martyrion, and, just possibly, also names the venerated martyrs: ΟΑCΤΕΦΑΝΟΥΓΕΟΡΓΙΟΥΦΙΔΟΝΜΑΡ|[- - -]ΡΟΝ (lines 2-3). Dating: Inscription 1 is dated to the 507th year of a local era and the 7th indiction year. Feissel does not comment on the chronological system that was used here. The editors of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum identify it as the era of the province of Arabia and compute it as AD 612/613. However, they do not note that this period falls in the 1st indiction year. In fact the actual provincial allegiance of Irbid, usually identified with ancient Arbela, is a rather complicated one. Meimaris notes that the city was probably included in the province of Arabia in 238 and the era of the province of Arabia was used there in the 3rd c. But Eusebius in his Onomasticon places Arbela within the territory of Pella, and it is sometimes shown by modern scholars as a city of the province of Palaestina II (see Meimaris 1992, 151 and 153). The nearby significant cities, e.g. Gadara, and Hippos/Sussita, used Pompeian eras starting in 64 BC, which would offer us a date in the mid-5th c., though still not agreeable with the 7th indiction.

Bibliography

Edition: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 51, 2060-2066. Bulletin épigraphique (2002), 482; (2005), 545. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 869. Melhem, I., al-Husan, A., "Preliminary results of excavations at Khallit 'Īsā Ṣīr/Bayt Īdis" [in Arabic], Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 46 (2002), 51-60. Melhem, I., al-Husan, A., "First season of excavations at Khallit 'Īsā Ṣīr/Bayt Īdis, 2000" [in Arabic], Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 45 (2001), 33-50. For local eras used in the region, see: Meimaris, Y.E., Kritikakou, K., Bougia, P. (eds.), Chronological Systems in Roman-Byzantine Palestine and Arabia. The Evidence of the Dated Greek Inscriptions (Meletemata 17, Athens: Diffusion de Boccard (Paris), 1992).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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