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E03170: Floor-mosaic with a fragmentary Greek inscription possibly commemorating the embellishment of a church of *Theodore (if so, probably the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480). Found at Abasan el-Kabir in the northwest Negev desert, midway between Gaza and Rafah (Roman province of Palaestina I). Reportedly dated 606.

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posted on 29.06.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
[- - - ] Θεοδώρου κ(αὶ) ἐν τούτ[ῳ - - -]
[- - - κα]λλόπισεν μη(νὸς) Δαισ(ίου) ἰν[δ(ικτιῶνος) - - -]

1. τοῦ ἁγίου (?)] Θεοδώρου SEG Figueras || possibly ἐν τούτ[ῳ τῷ τόπῳ SEG || 2. ἐκα]λλόπισεν AE || ἰν[δικτιῶνος - - -] SEG Figueras

'[- - -] of Theodore and in this [- - -] embellished [- - -] in the month of Daisios, indiction [- - -].'

Text: CIIP 3, no. 2561. Translation: W. Ameling, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E03170

Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480

Saint Name in Source

Θεώδρος

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

606

Evidence not after

606

Activity not before

606

Activity not after

606

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Gaza Rafah Abasan el-Kabir

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

Gaza Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Rafah Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Abasan el-Kabir Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Source

The inscription is set in the middle of a floor-mosaic unearthed on the main street of Abasan el-Kabir, a village sited midway between Gaza and Rafah. It was first mentioned by Pau Figueras in 1997, who heard about the find from David Gatenyo of Beersheva in the late 1980s. Figueras writes that a fragment was uncovered and photographed, and offers a drawing of two incomplete lines, but, as of 2014, Walter Ameling was unable to find any published photograph of the mosaic. Figueras connected the find with reports of floor-mosaics uncovered in the area in the 1920s by the British authorities and mentioned in the Geograph 55 (1920), 465-467. Further details about the mosaic were given by Mohammad Moain Sadeq in 1999, after the site had been excavated by the Gaza Department of Antiquities in 1995. The size of the mosaic is reported as 9 m x 4 m. It is made of coloured tesserae of stone and glass, including rare green pieces. The scenes depict birds, fruits, vessels, and floral motifs.

Discussion

The first editor, Pau Figueras, considered the appearance of the name Theodoros uncertain, but eventually opted for a tentative restoration of the epithet 'saint'/ἅγιος in the lost fragment of line 1. Ameling is sceptical about this interpretation. If the name Theodoros is correctly read, and he was the saint to whom the church was dedicated, he is likely to have been Theodore the soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita in northern Asia Minor, whose cult was widely spread through the late-antique Near East. Dating: according to Sadeq's communication, the dating formula mentions the 666th year of the era of Gaza, which, given the occurrence of the month of Daisios, corresponds to 26 May - 25 June AD 606.

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. 2561. Figueras, P., "New Greek Inscriptions from the Negev", Liber Annuus 46 (1996), 277-278, no. 10. Further reading: Piccirillo, M., "", in: M.-A. Haldimann (ed.), Gaza: à la croisée des civilisations: contexte archéologique et historique (Geneva: Musées d'Art et d'Histoire, 2007), 178. Sadeq, M., "", in: M. Piccirillo, E. Alliata, (eds.), The Madaba Mosaic Map Centenary 1897-1997. Travelling through the Byzantine Umayyad Period, Amman, 7-9 April 1997 (Jerusalem: Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, 1999), 215. Reference works: L'Année épigraphique (1996), 1570. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 798. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 2030.

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