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E04523: Greek inscriptions from the so-called 'martyr shrine' (martyrion) at Ramsâniyye, near Quneitra and Paneas/Caesarea Philippi, in the Golan Heights, to the northeast of the Sea of Galilee (Roman province of Phoenicia Paralias). One of them labels a relief of *John (probably the Baptist, S00020), another commemorates the construction of a building (termed 'holy place', hagios topos) by a former soldier, Flavios Babion. Probably the early 6th c., once wrongly dated 377/378.

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posted on 23.12.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:
The inscription is carved on an ashlar block (H. 0.60 m; W. 0.715 m; Th. 0.195 m). Letter height 0.03-0.04 m. It labels a relief with the bust of a man with nimbus, surrounded by vines with grapes. The face of the man is lacking: it was either erased in a period of iconoclasm (but the nimbus, the side decorations, and the inscription are untouched), or as suggested by Robert Gregg, the stone had no image of the saint, but was used as 'a mount for an icon' (now lost,).

Found during surveys organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority at Ramsâniyye and nearby towns between 1978 and 1988 (the 'Byzantine Expedition' at Golan). When recorded, the block was reused in the east face of the south pier in room 40 of the building dubbed 'martyrion', in the quarter IIC (on top of the hill on which the village is sited). First published with a photograph and a drawing by Robert Gregg in 1996.

ἅγιος Ἰωάννης

'Saint John'

Text: Dauphin and others 1996, no. 27.

This is almost certainly John the Baptist, as his cult in this village is attested by another inscription, commemorating the construction of a martyr shrine (martyrion), see E04474.

Inscription 2:
Carved on a fragmentary basalt ashlar (H. 0.49 m; W. 0.72 m; Th. 0.28 m). Letter height 0.035 - 0.04 m. Lining between the lines of letters. The inscription surrounds a central carving of a palm in low-relief, within a circle.

First recorded in the 1880s by 'a colonist from a new Jewish colony' at Ramsâniyye. A drawing sketched by that man was sent to Laurence Oliphant who published it in 1886 in the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (with no transcription). In 1888 republished with a drawing, but again with no transcription, by Gottlieb Schumacher who himself saw the stone and described it as an element of an arch. The object was rediscovered during surveys organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority between 1978 and 1988 (the 'Byzantine Expedition' at Golan). The surveyors says that the block was reused in an arch in room 41 of the building dubbed the 'martyrion', in the quarter IIC. In 1996 re-published with a drawing and a photograph by Robert Gregg.

We present the text as published by Gregg from the photograph. For earlier imperfect readings, see the comments and drawings in his editions.

Κύριε, πρόσδεξε τὴ̣ν προσ-
φο̣ραν τοῦ λαμπρο(τάτου)
Βαλβί- ωνος
τῶ ἐξ ἰ- δίων
καὶ κό- που ἔκ-
τισεν τοῦ ἁ̣γ[ίου]
τώπου καὶ, Κύρ[ι]-
ε, βωήθι Μα- ξίμου ο[ἰ]-
κοδόμου τοῦ καὶ γράψαντο[ς]

4. τῷ Dauphin, Gregg, but rather τῶ = τοῦ

'(christogram) O Lord, accept the offering of Balbion, of clarissimus rank, who at his own expense and toil founded this holy place (hagios topos)! And, O Lord, help Maximos, the builder (oikodomos), who also wrote this!'

Text: Dauphin and others 1996, no. 28. Translation: R. Gregg, adapted.

The founder, a certain Balbion of clarissimus rank, is almost certainly Flavios Balbion, son of Konon, a former soldier (likewise of clarissimus rank), who built an unnamed martyr shrine at nearby Jueîzeh, see E04470.

Inscription 3:
Basalt lintel (H. 0.295 m; W. 1.58 m; Th. 0.33 m). First recorded during surveys organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority between 1978 and 1988 (the 'Byzantine Expedition' at Golan), over the doorway in the west wall of room 41 in the building dubbed 'martyr shrine' (martyrion) in quarter IIC. According to Robert Gregg the block was inscribed with three crosses within circles, the letters Α and Ω, and six Greek letters ετςχπε, which he understood as a date ἔτ(ους) χπε΄, 'In the year 685'. Gregg suggested that the date was computed according to the Seleucid era and was convertible as AD 373/374. As the date was identical with that recorded in the building inscription for a martyr shrine of John the Baptist, found in another building at Ramsâniyye (see E04474), it has been suggested that that inscription, at some point displaced, comes from our building which was the actual site of the martyr shrine of John. Gregg, however, wrongly interpreted the date, as the Seleucid era was not used in the region. The presumed date must be, therefore, computed according to the era of nearby Caesarea Philippi/Paneas, and fall in the early 6th. More recently, however, Moshe Hartal has stated that he has re-examined this lintel, and noticed that it bore no date. He also questioned possible links of our structure with the stone recording the martyr shrine of John.

History

Evidence ID

E04523

Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης

Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. Photograph. From: Dauphin and others 1996, Plate XV.

Image Caption 2

Inscription 1. Drawing. From: Dauphin and others 1996, Plate VI.

Image Caption 3

Inscription 2. Photograph. From: Dauphin and others 1996, Plate XVI.

Image Caption 4

Inscription 2. New drawing by S. Gibson. From: Dauphin and others 1996, Plate VII.

Image Caption 5

Inscription 2. Drawing published by Schumacher 1888, 235.

Image Caption 6

Inscription 2. Drawing published by Oliphant 1886, 81.

Image Caption 7

Inscription 3. Drawing. From: Dauphin and others 1996, Plate XV.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Paneas Caesarea Philippi Ramsâniyye Quneitra

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

Paneas Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Caesarea Philippi Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Ramsâniyye Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Quneitra Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers Merchants and artisans

Discussion

Dating: As the reliability of the epigraphic evidence for dates mentioned in the building is not clear, there is no easy way to date the structure. An early 6th c. date is, however, possible. The building could be constructed or refurbished under the influence or even by Ghassanid/Jafnid Arabs, as in the 6th c. this region was the heartland of their settlement. Claudine Dauphin believed that the shrine was dedicated to John the Baptist and that members of Ghassanid/Jafnid tribes gathered there to celebrate the commemorations of John on the day of his birth and his execution. There is, however, no independent literary or liturgical evidence that would confirm this supposition.

Bibliography

Inscription 1: Edition: Dauphin, C., Brock, S., Gregg, R., Beeston, A.F.L., "Païens, juifs, judéo-chrétiens, chrétiens et musulmans en Gaulanitide: les inscriptions de Na’arân, Kafr Naffakh, Farj et Ramthâniyye", Proche-Orient Chrétien 46 (1996), no. 27. Gregg, R., Urman, D., Jews, Pagans, and Christians in the Golan Heights: Greek and Other Inscriptions of the Roman and Byzantine Eras (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1996), no. 158 (in the commentary). Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1990; 46, 1991. Inscription 2: Edition: Dauphin, C., Brock, S., Gregg, R., Beeston, A.F.L., "Païens, juifs, judéo-chrétiens, chrétiens et musulmans en Gaulanitide: les inscriptions de Na’arân, Kafr Naffakh, Farj et Ramthâniyye", Proche-Orient Chrétien 46 (1996), no. 28. Gregg, R., Urman, D., Jews, Pagans, and Christians in the Golan Heights: Greek and Other Inscriptions of the Roman and Byzantine Eras (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1996), no. 155. Schumacher, G., The Jaulân: Surveyed for the German Society for the Exploration of the Holy Land (London: R. Bentley and Son, 1888), 235. Oliphant, L., "New discoveries", Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (1886), 81. Further reading: Urman, D., Dar, S., Hartal, M., Ayalon, E., Rafid on the Golan. A Profile of a Late Roman and Byzantine Village (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2006), 288. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1997), 648; (1998), 517. Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 772. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1991. Inscription 3: Edition: Dauphin, C., Brock, S., Gregg, R., Beeston, A.F.L., "Païens, juifs, judéo-chrétiens, chrétiens et musulmans en Gaulanitide: les inscriptions de Na’arân, Kafr Naffakh, Farj et Ramthâniyye", Proche-Orient Chrétien 46 (1996), no. 26. Gregg, R., Urman, D., Jews, Pagans, and Christians in the Golan Heights: Greek and Other Inscriptions of the Roman and Byzantine Eras (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1996), no. 158 (in the commentary). Further reading: Hartal, M., Land of the Ituraeans. Archaeology and History of Northern Golan in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Periods (Qazrin: , 2005), 321-322. Urman, D., Dar, S., Hartal, M., Ayalon, E., Rafid on the Golan. A Profile of a Late Roman and Byzantine Village (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2006), 288. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 46, 1988; 46, 1991; 55, 1719. See also: check: Dauphin, C., "Pélerinage ghassanide au sanctuaire byzantin de saint Jean-Baptiste à Er-Ramthaniyye en Gaulanitide", in: E. Dassmann, J. Engemann (eds.), Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses für christliche Archäologie (Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum Supplement 20, Münster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1995), 667–673.

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