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E03368: Floor-mosaics with two Greek inscriptions commemorating the completion and paving of a chapel dedicated to *Thekla (the follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092, or the martyr of Gaza, S00189), and invoking the help of the saint. Found at Kafr Kama (Lower Galilee, to the southwest of the Sea of Galilee, Roman province of Palaestina II). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 20.07.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

Rectangular mosaic panel framed by a tabula ansata. Set in the pavement of 'Room 2' in a complex of two apsidal buildings at Kafr Kama. Dimensions not specified.

ὑπὲρ σωτηρίας τοῦ ἁγιωτάτου Εὐφρασίου
ἐπισκ(όπου) καὶ τοῦ ἐνδοξ(οτάτου) στρατηλάτου
Θεοδόρου ἐτελιόθη καὶ ἐψηφόθη ἡ ἁγία
Θέκλα χρ(όνοις) ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ιε΄ καὶ Παμ-
φίλου ἀρχιδιακ(όνου)· Κ(ύρι)ε Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστ)έ,
δέξε τὴν προσφορὰν Ἀριανοῦ διακ(όνου)

'As a vow for the salvation of the most holy bishop Euphrasios and of the most glorious (endoxotatos) commander (stratelates) Theodoros, was completed and paved with mosaics (the church of) Saint Thekla. In the time of the 15th indiction, and of Pamphilos, the archdeacon. O Lord, Jesus Christ, accept the offering of Arianos the deacon.'

Text: Di Segni 1995, 313. Translation: L. Di Segni, lightly adapted.

Inscription 2:

Fragmentary mosaic panel. Set in the pavement of 'Room 2' of the same complex, between the chancel screen and the east border of the carpet mosaic. Dimensions not specified.

[ἁγί]α Θέκλα, βωήθι Ἀναστασίου

'[Saint] Thekla, help Anastasios!'

Text: Saarisalo & Palva 1964, 14-15.

History

Evidence ID

E03368

Saint Name

Thekla, follower of Apostle Paul : S00092 Thekla from Gaza, martyr in Palestine, ob. ca. 306 : S00189

Saint Name in Source

Θέκλα Θέκλα

Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. From: Saarisalo & Palva 1964, Pl. 38.

Image Caption 2

Inscription 1. From: Saarisalo & Palva 1964, 11.

Image Caption 3

Inscription 2. From: Saarisalo & Palva 1964, Pl. 39.

Image Caption 4

Inscription 2. From: Saarisalo & Palva 1964, 14.

Image Caption 5

Reliquary. From: Saarisalo & Palva 1964, Pl. 29.

Image Caption 6

Plan of the complex. From: Saarisalo & Palva 1964, Pl. 44.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Archaeological and architectural - Extant reliquaries and related fixtures Archaeological and architectural - Altars with relics

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Kafr Kama

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

Kafr Kama Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Officials Soldiers Aristocrats Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Reliquary – institutionally owned

Source

The inscriptions were first published in 1966 in the report of the excavations at Kafr Kama by Aapeli Saarisalo and Heikki Palava, with drawings and photographs. The excavators were unsure about the actual function of two apsed buildings the foundations of which were found at the site, located next to each other and facing East, and name their sections 'Rooms'. Both mosaics were found in Room 2, that is in the west section (nave?) of the south building. Another dedicatory mosaic was found in Room 1 (apse) of the same structure. From the description and shape of the buildings, it is clear that they were churches or chapels (they are referred to as chapels by subsequent scholars commenting on these excavations). The south building housed a water basin in its apse/Room 1, identified as a baptistery, and another, smaller basin, probably a reliquary pit, situated to the east of the former. The apse/Room 1 was separated from the nave/Room 2 (W. c. 6.6 m) by a chancel screen. The north building was similar in shape. Its apse housed a marble reliquary, embedded in a reliquary slot in the floor. The carpet mosaics were decorated with geometric patterns, floral motifs, and images of birds and fish. Both inscriptions were partially reprinted by Yiannis Meimaris in 1986. Inscription 1 was reprinted based on photographs and the first edition by the Ovadiahs in 1987, Leah Di Segni in 1995, Andrew Madden in 2014, and by the editors of the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. It was also commented on by Pierre-Louis Gatier (2015) and Denis Feissel (1996).

Discussion

Inscription 1 commemorates the construction and paving of the south building as a vow for the salvation of bishop Euphrasios (identified by Di Segni as probably the bishop of nearby Helenoupolis). Saarisalo and Palva suggested that the stratelates Theodoros could have been Theodoros (sometimes named Theodoros Simos after the account of Malalas), the Justinianic commander entrusted with the suppression of the Samaritan uprising in 529, mentioned in the Life of Sabas (§ 70) by Cyril of Scythopolis. Di Segni, based on an examination of a greater number of sources on the Samaritan revolt, rejects this identification (for details, see Di Segni 1995, 313-314, note 2), and considers our Theodoros to have been an otherwise unknown Magister Militum per Orientem, or more probably just an honorary magister militum, as a person of high rank, she says, would not have been interested in making a donation to a remote village/small town church. In Bulletin épigraphique Denis Feissel wrote that some of the conclusions drawn by Di Segni were contestable. As for Saint Thekla, to whom the church or chapel was dedicated, Saarisalo and Palva identified her as the famous follower of the Apostle Paul. However, Yiannis Meimaris rightly underscores that in this region we might also expect Thekla, the martyr of Gaza, described by Eusebius of Caesarea (E00376). Inscription 2 invokes the help of Thekla for one Anastasios. Saarisalo and Palva suggested that this was an architect or a mosaicist, as he bore not peculiar titles. However, in a dedicatory inscription set in such a prominent place one should expect rather another donor. Dating: Inscription 1 mentions the 15th indiction year, but given the lack of a local era year, this is unconvertible. Saarisalo and Palva, assuming that the stratelates Theodoros must have been the Justinianic commander of 529, dated the mosaics to the nearest 15th indiction year, i.e. 536/537. But as there are no good arguments for this identification, we cannot accept this date. A stylistical examination of the mosaic ornamentation and the lettering points to a date in the 6th c.

Bibliography

Edition: Di Segni, L., "The involvement of local, municipal and provincial authorities in urban building in late antique Palestine and Arabia", in: The Roman and Byzantine Near East: Some Recent Archaeological Research (Journal of Roman Archaeology. Supplementary Series 14, Ann Arbor, MI: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 1995), 313-314. Ovadiah, R. & A., Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaic Pavements in Israel (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1987), no. 138. Saarisalo, A., Palva, H., "A Byzantine Church at Κafr Kama", Studia Orientalia Societatis Orientalis Fennicae 30/1 (1964), 11-15. Further reading: Gatier, P.-L., "Les Jafnides dans l'épigraphie grecque au VIe siècle", in: D. Genequand, Chr. J. Robin (eds.), Les Jafnides : des rois arabes au service de Byzance : VIe siècle de l'ère chrétienne: actes du colloque de Paris, 24-25 novembre 2008 (Orient et Méditerranée 17, Paris, 2015), 200, note 19 (mentioned). Madden A.M., Corpus of Byzantine Church Mosaic Pavements in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Leuven - Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014), 152-153, no. 222 (with further bibliography). 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), 130, nos. 693-694. 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), 362. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1996), 491. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 45, 1954.

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