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E04155: Greek inscription on the top of a capital, saying that it was ordered by a church of *Stephen (the First Martyr, S00030) 'of Monaeis'. Found at Horvat Ma'on/Khirbet Ma'in in the northwest Negev desert, near Gaza, Beersheva, and Elousa (Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably 5th-6th c.

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posted on 15.10.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
+ ἁγ(ίου) Στεφ-
άν(ου) Μων-
αειτῶν

'+ Of Saint Stephen of the people of Monaeis'.

Text: Figueras 1996, no. 7.

History

Evidence ID

E04155

Saint Name

Stephen, the First Martyr : S00030

Saint Name in Source

Στέφανος

Image Caption 1

From: Figueras 1996, Photograph 2.

Image Caption 2

From: Figueras 1996, 272.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Elousa Gaza Menois Berosaba/Beersheva

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

Elousa Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Gaza Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Menois Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Berosaba/Beersheva Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Merchants and artisans

Source

White marble Corinthian capital. The inscription is on its rough upper surface, and would not have been visible when the capital was in place. Letter height 0.05-0.06 m. Found by a local in the 1960s, reused in a ruined old house located near a hill named Horvat Ma'on/Khirbet Ma'in. Now in a garden at Kibbutz Nirim (20 km to the southwest of Gaza). The object was recorded by Amir Gorzalzani (Israel Antiquities Authority) in January 1989, and first published by Pau Figueras in 1996, with a drawing and photograph.

Discussion

The inscription was carved in a stonemason workshop (probably remote from the find-spot, as the editor presumes) to mark the church where the capital was to be delivered. It was never intended to be read by people visiting the church. The church, as we learn from the text, was dedicated to 'Saint Stephen of the people of Monaeis'. The mention of churches dedicated to saints, and identified by the names of cities/villages or associations, is rare in inscriptions, but sometimes we do find this naming pattern, for example in the Near East (e.g. E01685: Beth Misona), and in Anatolia (see: E00789: Ephesos, E00868: Paonala/Paunalla, etc.). As several churches were dedicated to Stephen in our area (E03562: Birsama/Bersamon; EXXXX: Nessana, E04156, E04157: Berosaba/Beersheva), the stonecutters had to distinguish the recipient of the delivery from others. Figueras argues plausibly that 'Monaeis' is an otherwise unattested variant of 'Menois', and that the inscription confirms the identification of Horvat Ma'on/Khirbet Ma'in with this ancient town, suggested already by Albrecht Alt and Michael Avi-Yonah. For a discussion on different forms of this toponym, as recorded in the late antique literary and legal sources, see Figueras 1996, 273. Menois was a small town with an episcopal see, a military camp/kastron, and a synagogue. And indeed, a synagogue with impressive floor-mosaics was excavated near Horvat Ma'on/Khirbet Ma'in.

Bibliography

Edition: Figueras, P., "New Greek inscriptions from the Negev", Liber Annuus 46 (1996), no. 7. Further reading: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 798. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 2027.

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