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E03010: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the laying-out of a mosaic in the baptistery of the church at Jabaliya, 3 km to the northwest of Gaza (Roman province of Palaestina I), as an act of thanksgiving to God and unnamed saints. Probably 549.

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posted on 20.06.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Παῦλος
ὁ πρεσβύτερος,
Οὐλπιανοῦ υἱός,
εὐχαριστ(ῶν) τῷ θ(ε)ῷ κ(αὶ) τ(οῖς)
[ἁγίο]ις ὑπὲρ σωταιρίας
[αὐ]τοῦ καὶ ὑπὲρ ἀνα-
[παύ]σεος Μαρίας ἀδελ-
[φῆς α]ὐτοῦ ἀιπαρθ-
[ένου ἐ]ψήφωσεν
[τὸ ἅγ]ιον φώ-
[τι]σμα

'Paulos, the presbyter, son of Ulpianos, giving thanks to God and the saints, adorned the holy (baptismal) font with mosaics as a vow for his salvation and for the repose of his sister Maria, eternal virgin (aeiparthenos).'

Text: CIIP 3, no. 2451. Translation: W. Ameling, adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E03010

Saint Name

Unnamed saints (or name lost) : S00518

Saint Name in Source

ἅγιοι

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

549

Evidence not after

549

Activity not before

549

Activity not after

549

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gaza Jabaliya

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

Gaza Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Jabaliya Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Source

Mosaic panel shaped as a medallion, framed by several circular bands of tesserae. Black letters and guidelines. Letter height 0.052-0.06 m. Set in 'locus 11', i.e. in the north half of the central carpet-mosaic situated to the east of the baptismal font of the baptistery of the church at el-Mkheitim in Jabaliya, 3 km to the northwest of Gaza. The church is a three-aisled basilica with an inscribed apse flanked by two rectangular chambers. A large rectangular baptismal complex is annexed to the north part of the church. The church and the baptistery could belong to a monastic complex. A total of seventeen inscribed mosaic panels were recorded, but only one of them contains a direct reference to saints. The earliest mosaic in the church is dated to 496/497, however the majority of them refer to mid-6th and 7th/8th c. restorations. The site was excavated by the Gaza section of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage (DACH), and the results were published in 2000 with the aid of the French-Palestinian mission in Gaza (DGRCST), by Catherine Saliou. The mosaics themselves were, however, published earlier, in 1998, in Arabic, by S. Arafat el-Mobid. Slight changes in accentuation were then offered by Denis Feissel, and in 2014 the mosaics were included in the third volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae.

Discussion

The inscription records a vow of one Paulos, son of Ulpianos, for the salvation of himself and the repose of his sister, Maria, styled 'eternal virgin'/aeiparthenos. It appears that this epithet, normally describing the Virgin Mary, was sometimes used to praise women, probably ascetics and/or nuns (see E02964 from Ozem near Askalon; in his comments on the inscription Ameling gives references to other cases, e.g. from Beroia and Edessa). Both Paulos and Maria appear in other mosaics in the baptistery and in the church (CIIP 3, no. 2447 where both are apparently alive, 2453, 2454). Of importance to us, the donor says that the paving of the baptistery was also an act of thanksgiving to unnamed saints. However, we cannot say whether this was just a set phrase or whether he referred to a specific saintly intervention in his life. Dating: the inscription contains no dating formula, but another panel from the same pavement (CIIP 3, no. 2450) is dated to July/August 549. Another nearby panel (CIIP 3, no. 2452) is dated 548/549.

Bibliography

Edition: Ameling, W., Ecker, A., Hoyland, R. (eds.), Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae, vol. 3: South Coast, 2161-2648: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad ( Berlin - Boston, Massachusetts: De Gruyter, 2014), no. 2451. Saliou, C., "Gaza dans l'antiquité tardive: nouveaux documents épigraphiques", La Revue biblique 107 (2000), 400-401, no. 10 and Pl. 4b. Further reading: Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 64-68, no. 81. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2001), 502; (2014), 516. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 731. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 50, 1480-1495.

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