Saint NameTheodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480
Saint Name in SourceΘεώδρος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before606
Evidence not after606
Activity not before606
Activity not after606
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Palestine with Sinai
Palestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcGaza
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Gaza
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - unspecified
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsRenovation and embellishment of cult buildings
SourceThe 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.
DiscussionThe 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.
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.
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.
L'Année épigraphique (1996), 1570.
Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 798.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 2030.