Saint NameGeorge, soldier and martyr of Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259
Saint Name in SourceΓεώργιος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before441
Evidence not after700
Activity not before441
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Palestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Sheikh Bader/Giv'at Ram
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Sheikh Bader/Giv'at Ram
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesMonarchs and their family
SourceFramed mosaic panel. W. c. 0.60 m. Other dimensions unknown. The mosaic was damaged by fire and lacks a fragment at the left-hand end and in the lower right-hand corner. Set in the floor of a chapel sited on the slopes of Sheikh Bader in Jersualem. The chapel is now lost. After the discovery the panel was lifted and moved to the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. It is now lost.
The chapel was excavated by Michael Avi-Yonah in 1949, with permission of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums and the Israel Exploration Society. The excavations revealed the existence of a monastery with a basilica (17.5 m x 14 m) and a chapel annexed to its south wall. The chapel measured c. 3.60 m x 7.70 m. The panel was sited at the east end, near the apse.
The inscription was first published by Avi-Yonah in 1949. It was later reprinted by Ruth and Asher Ovadiah in their corpus of mosaic pavements from Israel (1987), and by re-published in 2012 by Leah Di Segni in the Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae. For a complete bibliography see Di Segni's edition.
DiscussionThe inscription contains a prayer for an unnamed donor who contributed to the construction of the chapel. As it invokes the God of Saint George, we can presume that George was also the patron of the shrine.
Avi-Yonah suggested that the chapel belonged to a gerontokomeion (an institution for the care of the elderly) with a martyrion of George founded by the empress Eudocia and described by Cyril of Scythopolis (Life of John Hesychastes, 4-5, ed. Schwartz 204, EXXXXX). If so, and if the inscription is contemporary to the original foundation (and not a later refurbishment), Di Segni says it should date to the period of Eudocia's second stay in Jerusalem: 441/444 - 460. This identification was accepted by Józef Tadeusz Milik, but Asher Ovadiah dated the chapel (and thus the panel) to the 6th c. (with no explanation). On the other hand, Gabriel Barkay argued that the complex with an establishment he had excavated at Ketef Hinnom was the site of Eudocia's foundation, and Jean Perrot suggested that our chapel is yet another shrine of George, mentioned in the epitaph of Kyriakos, priest and abbot from Jericho (SEG 8, 315 = E04404; dated 566), and probably from the 6th c.
Di Segni is sceptical about the latter two identifications, especially that of Perrot. She probably rightly points out that Kyriakos' foundation must have been located in Jericho, close to his tomb.
As the floor mosaics of the church are damaged by fire, Avi Yonah suggested that the sanctuary was destroyed either during the Samaritan revolt in 532 or during the Persian invasion in 614, and later restored.
Cotton, H.M., Di Segni, L., Eck, W., Isaac, B., Kushnir-Stein, A., Misgav, H., Price, J.J., Yardeni, A. and others (eds.), Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 1, part 2: Jerusalem, nos. 705-1120 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), no. 846 (with further bibliography).
Ovadiah, R. & A., Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaic Pavements in Israel (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1987), 80-81 no. 118.
Avi-Yonah, M., "", Bulletin of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society 15 (1949), 19-24 and Pl. VI/2.
Avi-Yonah, M., "", in: Actes du Ve Congrès International d'Archéologie Chrétienne, Aix-en-Provence 13-19 septembre 1954 (Studi di antichità cristiana 22, Città del Vaticano: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1957), 120.
Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie. IV La Palestine", Analecta Bollandiana 69 (1951), 68-69, 72.
Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 86, no. 112.
Meimaris, Y., Sacred names, saints, martyrs and church officials in the Greek inscriptions and papyri pertaining to the Christian Church of Palestine (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation, Center for Greek and Roman Antiquity, 1986), 126, no. 684.
Milik, J.T., "La topographie de Jérusalem vers la fin de l'époque byzantine", Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph 37 (1961) [= Mélanges offerts au Père René Mouterde 1], 138-141.
Perrot, J., "Nouvelles archéologiques", Syria 27 (1950), 195-196.
Schick, R., The Christian Communities of Palestine from Byzantine to Islamic Rule: A Historical and Archaeological Study (Studies in late antiquity and early Islam 2, Princeton, N.J: Darwin Press, 1995), 340-341.