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Gaianos (Word document)
Nederlandse versie Megiddo inscripties
an early christian building
with floor mosaics (fish)
and three inscriptions
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[For more and better information: buy the IAA excavation report (Tepper & Di Segni 2006 “A Christian prayer hall”) online.]
(version: june 2007)
Bouke Slofstra, Netherlands
(Trefwoorden: Megiddo, kerk, opgraving, inscripties)
Nederlandse versie over inscripties Megiddo wordt spoedig weer bijgewerkt
(Please click here for reactions, questions, corrections etc. I will be glad to respond.)
This discovery was made in the context of an archaeological routine research preceding a planned extension of the prison complex. The digging activities had been going on for some 18 months and the experts had almost lost their hope to find something interesting.
More than sixty prisoners cooperated with these digging activities.
The excavation leader, mr Yotan Tepper, claims his team might have discovered the oldest christian site of the holy land. According to his estimation the building might date from the late third or early forth century AD. This could even mean that the church was in use in a period when Christianity was still outlawed. (The Roman emperor Constantine legitimised the Christian religion in the eastern part of the Roman world in 313.)
Of the building only a ruin is left. It's a quadrangular room measuring approximately 9 x 6 meters. The excavation hasn't finished yet. Experts estimated that only ten percent of the site has been uncovered.
Part of the find are two spectacular mosaics, one of which shows two fishes. The fish is a well-known early Christian symbol.
Moreover there are three inscriptions, written in ancient Greek. One of these inscriptions speaks about a 'table' being donated to the community. This 'table' might have been used in the Eucharist ceremony and some scholars believe this fact may add to our knowledge of Early Christianity.
Voor Nederlandstalige informatie over de vondst van de kerk in Megiddo en de ontdekking van de inscripties van Akeptous, Gaianos en anderen, zie de Nederlandse site "Megiddo inscripties Nederlands", hier.
1 The inscriptions.
1.1 The four women
2 Information from the newspapers
2.1 The building
2.2 The table
2.3 The fishes
3 Background information
3.1 The dating of the site (according to the excavation team)
3.2 The dating of the site (according to others)
3.3 Epigraphy: the letter forms
3.4 A note on proper names [now ready]
3.5 A note on mosaics [now ready]
3.6 Historical context [now ready]
4 Sources (the newspapers)
6 [Concluding remarks, soon]
1. The inscriptions
Note: more information on the inscriptions (from the newspapers) is to be found in 2.4 "inscriptions".
It seems there are two rectangular floor mosaics in the room, lying next to each other. The first mosaic (call it A) is filled with ornamental patterns. At both ends we see an inscription. These are 1.1 "the four ladies" and 1.2 "Akeptous and the table". The second mosaic (B) contains a central panel showing two fishes. Along one of the long sides there is a third inscription, being 1.3 "Gaianos the officer".
Between both mosaics (A and B) there is a square relict of a "base" or the like. This so-called "base" is situated near by inscription 1.2 "Akeptous and the table", which leads some scholars to presume that the base was part of a Christian altar.
1.1 The four ladies
PRIMILLHS KAI KURI
AKHS KAI DWROQEAS
ETI DE KAI CRHSTH[S]
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Translation: Remember / Primillê and Kuri- / -akê ("The Lord's") and Dôrothea ("God's gift") / and also Khrêstê ("The kind one"). (See also Henrickson in FR and 2.4.1.)
<![endif]>Dôrothea is also a (Greek) Christian
proper name (though not exclusively Christian, Ilan 317). A Saint Dorothy (February
6) died in the district of Cappadocia, now
1.2 Akeptous and her 'table':
ZAN QW IU CW
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>
<palm branch> GAIANOS O KA[I] PORFURI<o>S <CR> ADELFOS HMWN FILO-
TEIMHSAMENOS EK TWN IDIWN
<leaf(?)> EYHFOLOGHSEN. BROUTI<o>S HRGASET(O)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Translation: <palm(?)> Gaianos, also called Porphyris ('purple cloak') <khi-rho: CENTURIO(?)>, our brother, / "having obtained honour for himself", from his own money, / < leaf (?)> had this mosaic made. (Broutis carried out the work.)
2. Information from the newspapers
2.1 The building and its surroundings:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>"It may be the largest church ever found here" (or the like), °Jerusalem Post says. But this room is small and maybe it isn't a church either.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>The building is simple and square. It lacks the characteristics of later churches (apsis, east orientattion). Clearly it isn't a basilica either (°Hz, °WP). °Yardena Alexandre, who cooperates with mr. Tepper, presumes this is might mean that we have to deal with a very early church. There is no standard plan. (Cf. °Yahoo/Reuters.) °Leah di Segni says: "I don't know if this structure can even be called a church" (°Haaretz). Diklah Zohar (personal ommunication) writes: "as far the program of the building is concerned, there are a few examples of monastic structures, which also do not have the regular basilica form. Perhaps Leah Di Segni is right that the structure should not be called a church." (For Diklah Zohar, see 3.5 "mosaics", for monasteries, see 3.6 "historical context".
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Voorbeelden. Zie de overzichtsfoto's in °Terra Antiqua. Voorbeeld. Voorbeeld (NG.)
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>It is a relatively small room: 30 x 15 ft (10 bij 5 meter, °NYT) or 9 x 6 meter (°IAA, °VK).
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>There are two mosaics lying on the floor. In between there is a "base" . Possibly this base supported some construction that was used in the Christian religious ceremony [see again this picture] . Near by we find the dedicatory inscription by Akeptous (1.2) (°Tepper in °NYT.)
<![if !supportLists]>6. <![endif]>Some pottery ("a wine jug" and more) was found (see also 3.1 "dating") as well as some pieces of fresco (IAA).
<![if !supportLists]>7. <![endif]>The room was vaulted. Along the low ruins of one wall the base of a column is visible. Archaeologists say it arched over the floor to support a stone roof. Which indicates that this was one of the grandest buildings of its time. (WP.)
<![if !supportLists]>8. <![endif]>Only approximately 10 percent of the site has been excavated yet. (WP.)
<![endif]>Roman mosaics (from the third/fourth century) are relatively rare in
<![if !supportLists]>11. <![endif]>The ruins of the Christian prayer hall, which was located inside a Roman
villa, date back to the first half of the third century CE (...), Yotam Tepper
said Tuesday. [Jerusaelem Post
2.2 The 'table' and the 'base':
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>The sources are not unanimous.
<![endif]>"One of the most dramatic finds suggests that instead of an altar,
a simple table stood in the center of the church, at which a sacred meal was
held to commemorate the Last Supper. Photographs of the Greek inscriptions in
the mosaics were sent to
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>On the centre of the mosaic floor there was a "base" that may have supported a construction that was used for the Christian religious ceremony. Nearby we find Akeptous' inscription (about the "table", 1.2)(Tepper in °NYT.).
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>"A second mosaic, closer to the base of a pedestal whose use archaeologists have not determined, is a second inscription that recalls by name four women of the community (1.1, bs)" (°WP.)
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>"This suggests, literally, that the Eucharist was the centre of the service. And as it was celebrated at a table (not an altar, like later Christians did) that the Eucharist probably was not regarded as a sacrifice, like Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church teach". (Or the like). (°Cranach.)
<![if !supportLists]>6. <![endif]>Archaeologists do not know if the "table" refers to a table or an altar, but none has been found, they said. (CNS.)
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>"The floor is about 30 feet by 15 feet and has two mosaics, consisting of small black and white tiles in geometric patterns. Two fish, a symbol widely used in early christianity, adorn one." (°NYT.) This must be a mistake, because in all pictures we see two fish.
<![endif]> The fish is obviously a
chrsitian symbol. The fact that a fish symbol has been discovered but a cross
symbol has not, could be an indication that this 'church' is very oldeed,
according to mr. Tepper (°CO).
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Pictures. Photographs in Terrae Antiquae Imagines, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post and Catholic Online. One more picture.
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>Fish commonly appear in Christian funerary art of the third and following centuries, sometimes alongside other symbols which were given a Christian meaning, including the anchor. See Harland on mosaics.
2.4 The inscriptions:
2.4.1: The four ladies:
Often the ladies remain nameless (despite their beautiful inscription), but not always.
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>"Another, the easternmost inscription, memorialized four Greek women." (JP)
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>"The eastern inscription commemorates four women (...)" (Hz)
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>"Frimilia, Kiriaka, Dorothea en Karasta" (IAA, VK).
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>"Primilia, Kiraka, Dorothea and Crista." (BR.)
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>"Commemorating (Memorializing?) Priscella and Kyriake and Dorothea and also Chreste (last character uncertain, but the word is clearly a name)." (CF.)
2.4.2: Akeptous and the table:
The name Akeptous has several variants:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>"A woman named Aketous who donated money to build the church in the memory "of the God, Jesus Christ." (CO; also NYT and WP)
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>"The last of the inscriptions, on the western side of the mosaic, recalled a certain god-loving "Afektos"." (JP).
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>"(...) The western inscription mentions a woman by the name Akeptos, who "donated this table to the God Jesus Christ in commemoration."
<![endif]>"The westernmost inscription recalls "a certain god-loving Akeftos,"
who donated the altar to "the God Jesus Christ as a memorial." (
The sources agree that Gaianos was a military man:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>A detailed and well preserved mosaic bearing the name of Jesus Christ in ancient Greek and images of fish. (KUTV)
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>"A Roman officer (...)". (CO.)
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>"The inscription on the north site was dedicated to an army officer named Gaianos who contributed the mosaic floor." (IAA.)
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>"A dedication to Gaianos, a military officer who contributed to the construction of the mosaic floor from his own funds." (JP.)
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>"The northern inscription mentions a Roman army officer who donated the money to build the floor." (Haaretz.)
<![if !supportLists]>6. <![endif]>"Another inscription says a Roman officer, Gaianos, having sought honour, from his own money, has made the mosaic." (NYT.) (See 3.2 "dating, others": Zias' commentary.
<![if !supportLists]>7. <![endif]>"An Ancient Greek inscription, roughly translated, reads: "Gaianos, also called Porphyrio, centurio, our brother, having seeked (sic) honor with his own money, has made this mosaic. Brouti has carried out the work." (WP.)
<![if !supportLists]>8. <![endif]>"De mozaïeken zijn geschonken door Gaianos, een Romeins soldaat, blijkt uit een inscriptie." [The mosaics had been donated by Gaianos, a Roman, soldier, appears from the inscription] (VK.)
<![if !supportLists]>9. <![endif]>"Freigelegt sind ein
schwarz-weißer Mosaikboden, der mehrere griechische Inschriften und zwei Fische
als Symbole der frühen Christen zeigt. Darin
werden der römische Centurio Gaianus als
«Bruder» und Stifter [brother and founder] des Gebäudes, der Künstler [artist] Broutios als Schöpfer
des Werkes [creator of the work] genannt. " (Spiegel, German newspaper.)
3.1 The dating, according to mr. Tepper:
<![endif]>Yotan Tepper is the excavation leader
(In de JP his name is Jotham Tefer). He works with the Israel
Antiquities Authority IAA. [Or maybe:
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Tepper is convinced that the 'church' dates back to the late 3rd of early 4th century AD. He and his team suggest the church was in use in a period when Christianity was not or hardly legal yet.
<![endif]>"It is for sure the earliest church in
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>"This is a very ancient structure, maybe the oldest in our area." (Tepper, KUTV)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Dating: (late) third or (early) fourth century (BBC, Tepper/Tefer in JP, AP.)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>"Dr Uzi Bahari, deputy director of archaeology at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said experts agree that the archaeological find "is very unique" and probably dates back to the late 3rd or early 4th century. (CNS)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>(...) What makes the find interesting is not just that it is ancient and possibly the oldest church found in Israel, but that it clearly shows there was public Christian worship here at a time when Christianity was still outlawed in the Roman Empire and when Christians were being persecuted, said archaelogist Najar Arfan, who is working at the dig. (CNS)
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>"De multiples tessons de poterie découverts au-dessus de la mosaïque, le style d’écriture grecque utilisé, ainsi que l’allusion à un autel (trapeza, en grec) appelé «table pour le repas du Seigneur», ont incité Yotam Tepper et son équipe à dater cette église du IIIe siècle." (La Croix: "third century")
ruins of the Christian prayer hall, which was located inside a Roman villa,
date back to the first half of the third century CE (...), Yotam Tepper said
Tuesday. (...) Pottery shards and
coins found in the excavation date the mosaic to the first half of the
third century, Tepper said during a visit by president Moshe Katsav and senior
Christian religious leaders in the
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Tepper and his team have several arguments:
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>The building lacks the characteristics of later churches (no basilica plan, no apsis, no eastern orientation). It is more like a hiding place for a semi-illegal community than a 'classical' church, they say (VK.). (But: Diklah Zohar, personal communication: this building could be a monastic structure as well, see 2.1.)
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>Christian symbolism. There is a fish symbol, but there's no cross [see also 2.3 "fish"] (Tepper, CO).
<![if !supportLists]>6. <![endif]>The phrasing of the inscriptions (Tepper, VK, IAA). Unfortuately the newspapers offer no examples, but the formula "(the) God Jesus Christ" in 1.2 is a good candidate.
<![if !supportLists]>7. <![endif]>The letter forms of the inscriptions seem to predate the Byzantine period (though this may be a tricky argument, see 3.3 "epigraphy"). See also mrs. Leah di Segni, cited in in Hz, in 2.4, "inscriptions".
<![if !supportLists]>8. <![endif]>Pottery. Pottery shars of cooking pots and wine jugs have been exavated on the mosaic floor. These fragments, experts believe, could well date from the third century AD. So the church is likely to date back from this period or earlier. (Tepper in CO, IAA, NYT; see also Leah di Segni in Haaretz, "a pottery vessel discovered on the site".)
<![endif]>According to Tepper there are historical
texts that refer to a comparable Christian Christian house of prayer in the
coastal city of
<![if !supportLists]>11. <![endif]>See also commentaries in 3.2, especially Joe Zias.
3.2 Commentaries, especially on the dating:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>Not everyone supports mr. Tepper's claims..
<![endif]>"The announcement [i.e. : "oldest church in
<![endif]>Stephan Pfann (
<![endif]>Joe Zias is an anthropologist and a former curator with
the IAA, so he is a predecessor of mr Tepper. He doubts the dating "third
century". There is no evidence for churches before the 4th century AD (
<![endif]>The first (real) churches arose about 330: the Holy Sepulcher in
<![endif]>Zeev Weiss, "archeology
professor" with the
<![if !supportLists]>7. <![endif]>Yiska Harani, a historian and specialist in the field of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land, uses an argumentum e silentio: "If the Megiddo terrain dates back to the third century, then why did no early church historian mention this building" (or the like) . [Compare, though, the argument in 3.1, nr 9.]
<![endif]>A somewhat "suspect" fact may be this: "
<![if !supportLists]>9. <![endif]>Diklah Zohar (personal communication, see 3.5) writes: "I hope that the preliminary publication [of the IAA] will also include numismatic material, which is probabaly more reliable than letter-style, artistic style or unusual word usage." Compare Emile Puech, cited in La-Croix: "the only way to date with certainty is to search the ground beneath the mosaic for coins."
3.3 The letters of the inscriptions:
<![endif]>Dating inscriptions by their letter forms is tricky game (
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Moreover the various sources I used make a clear distinction between Roman age letter forms and earlier variants, but we did not manage to find clear cut differences between "Roman" and "Byzantine" letter forms.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Leah di Segni, an expert in epigraphy, asserts the (Greek) letterforms are caracteristic of the Roman Imperial period. (°Haaretz). We do not now exactly why she thinks so.
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>The letters are obviously not classical Greek. Evidences are the cursive ('small') letters sigma (c) and omega (w), which were borrowed (in the Roman age) from the palaeographic tradition. (McLean 40ff, Reinach 203ff, also Kaufmann 450.) The alpha and the delta with long (higher) right legs occur in the Roamn period as well (ibidem). The pi had a short right leg before the Roman age.
<![endif]>In these inscriptions the mu is always wide and curved
(cursive), which may be a caracteristic of the Roman age. (McLean 40ff,
Kaufmann, 450, 457; °Woodhead;
<![endif]>Some letters appear in different variants, sometimes in one and
the same text. (Which is common, see Reinach). In 1.2 and 1.3 we see the omikron
(o) and the sigma (c) in two different shapes: round and edgy. The phi
in text 1.3 has various forms (the circle is high, middle and low, compared to
the vertical strokeI that supports it). Some letters in 1.2 and 1.3 have a
serif (e.g. an êta in 1.3, two iota's in 1.2). Here also the distributon
seems to be fully arbitrary. In 1.2 we find the nu and the pi both
with and without a serif. The upsilon in text 1.2 alternately written
as Y and V (
<![if !supportLists]>7. <![endif]>Text 1.1 seems to be at variance with the two other texts. The letters are consequently serif-less and edgy. In this text (and only here) we find two (usual type) ligatures: NH and NE, cf Larfeld 275, McLean 55). In the Byzantine age the use of ligatures will be far more frequent (Reinach 212-4, Larfeld 275).
<![if !supportLists]>8. <![endif]>The iota subscriptum is never found in epigraphic texts. Either it is written as a regular iota, or it is not written at all. In the Roman age this iota has become infrequent (the diffeerence in pronunciation between ê and êi etc. has disappeared by this period). (McLean 347f and 56 on nomina sacra).
<![if !supportLists]>9. <![endif]>We have no explanation for the mirror image Z in 1.2.
<![if !supportLists]>10. <![endif]>The horizontal bar after "Akeptous-" is normal in the Roman age (Reinach 215-6); in the Christian (Byzantine) period more symbols will be used (ibidem).
<![if !supportLists]>11. <![endif]>Word separation is a "Roman" invention, and in this period it is still infrequent. If words are separated, a half-high dot is usually seen to do the job. In later periods more symbols will be used. (Reinach 216, Larfeld 302, McLean 48).
<![if !supportLists]>12. <![endif]>For the orthography of teimêsamenos (instead of timêsamenos) see Kaufmann 33 and McLean 349f.
<![if !supportLists]>13. <![endif]>We do not know
whether ho ka(i) Porphyris in 1.3 is a ligature or a strange
spelling for kai (again:
<![if !supportLists]>14. <![endif]>On the nomina
sacra, see text 1.2, Larfeld 280,
<![if !supportLists]>15. <![endif]>A good introduction in epigraphy is Van Nijf (1999).
<![if !supportLists]>16. <![endif]>About Porhyri<o?>s and Brouti<o?>s (1.3) we can't say anything for sure.
<![if !supportLists]>17. <![endif]>Concluding: from
the letter forms we can't conclude much about the dating of the mosaics. (In
later mosaics in
Tradionally the "real" Romans had three names, a first name or praenomen (Gaius), a family name or nomen gentis (Iulius) and a nickname or cognomen (Caesar). These were the tria nomina.
Freed slaves and adopted children often got a nomen gentis from their former master or adoptive father.
The emperor Caracalla (211-217) granted all free-born inhabitants of the empire Roman citizenship. This decision is known as the Constitutio Antoniniana (from the year 212, see Naerebout en Singor 373). This was the natural end of a development that had lasted for centuries (e.g. during Claudius' reign).
Now, in the later
Greeks have only one "personal name", by tradition (Plato, son of X, McLean 75). It is very common for a non-Roman to take a Roman name (in this period). This may be a praenomen, a nomen gentis or a cognomen.
This could be the case with Gaianos. It was normal, for Christians and others, to have only one name. (Kaufmann 35-36.)
Some people bear an "extra name", introduced by the formula
"ho kai" (
Eighty percent of the cognomina ends in –anus (though the name Gaianos might be a nomen gentis,
It is tempting to presume that one of both names (Gaianos, Porphyris)
was a Christian proper name, accepted at the time of his (alleged) conversion,
and that the other name is his "old" one (see again Kaufmann 35-36),
but this does not have to be true. (
After the Severan reforms (beginning of third century AD) a large amount
of non-Italian soldiers and commanders served in the roman army. (The Severan
emperors were from
Only after 313 the Christian names drive out the traditional gentile names of Christians (according to Kaufmann 35-6). Some Christians had remarkably gentile names like Apollodoros. (The very Christian names of Kyriakê and Dôrothea would be rather exceptional, given Tepper's dating.)
Woman used to have only one name (
It may be remarkable that we don't see any (recognisably) Jewish name
(like Salomo or Esther), cf. Meimaris, where we do find "Jewish"
names with Christian monks, e.g Jakôbos. After
(Remark that a military man like
Gaianos could have come from anywhere, cf. this soldier from
See also CE on Christian names.
There are two mosaics. The first mosaic (cf. 1.1 and 1.2) shows a geometrical pattern (stars within circles), two inscriptions (in rectangulars) and a double guillache. The second mosaic (cf. 1.3) contains a central medallion (showing two fish), surrounded by square, rectangular and triangular fields, filled with well-known mosaic forms like peltes, a salomon's knot , a swastica/meander etcetera. The rest of the surface is filled with monotonous square forms (not unlike a chess board). A simple guillache border encloses the mosaic, surrounding a crow step (Dunbabin (1999:339-341, Panetier 104)).
Dunbabin (1999:176) explains that in
Diklah Zohar (
Every region, or workshop, or even
mosaicist, could have developed its own characteristic work. The choice for a
certain composition may be a result of a local fashion and taste in a certain
period and place, which does not necessarily has to be the case in a different
region. Secondly - there are a few fourth-century mosaic floors in
I have not yet studied the floor in
detail, but from the available material, I suggest the following parallels for
the fish-panel composition: Beth Guvrin [a.k.a. Beit Jibrin] (Ovadiah, A. and
Ovadiah, R., Mosaic Pavements in Israel, Rome, 1987, Plate XI, figs. 1 & 2)
VI cent. CE?; Hazor-Ashdod (Ovadiah, Plate LXXVIII, fig.1) 512 CE; A variant
without a circle within the heksagon: Beth Shean[a.k.a. Beisan] – Monastery of Lady Mary (Ovadiah, Plate
XXI) c. 567 CE; Roglit (Ovadiah, Plate CXXXVII) Vth cent. CE. Just citing one
There is one very interesting detail in
the inscription of Gaianus, and that is the name of the mosaicist. The habit to
sign one's work appears in the mosaics of
Most mosaics in
Often, the donors of the mosaics (and the churches) are named in an inscription (ibid. 198, 317, 324), clerics as well as laypersons. [Cf. Gaianos, 1.3.]
Signatures of the mosaicist are not
extremely exceptional (ibid. 272-5). [Cf. Brouti(o)s, 1.3.] Some of them,
living in or around
excurs: Roman mosaics in
A famous book on Roman mosaics is Dunbabin
(1978), a treatise on Roman mosaics in
Most mosaics date back to a period from
(roughly) 180 – 400 AD. (As is well-known, the western part of the Empire
ceased to exist much earlier than the eastern part.) It is clear that the age
of the Roman city gods and the Greek Olympic gods has ended, and that there is
a need for hope giving deities, some of whom have their own mystery cults.
(Christianity flourished in Roman society that embraced eastern mystery cults
like the Cybele or Mithras cult.) An overview of these themes is to be seen on
this op this
page, about the floor mosaics in the Roman city of
As Dunbabin (188ff) points out, there was hardly any kind of specifically Christian symbolism in early Christian mosaics. Sometimes the Christ monogram or the alpha-omega-sign was visible, but traditional symbols (vines, roseplants etc.) were much more frequent. "Palm trees flank the inscriptions" (Dunbabin 190.)
Traditional symbols (fish, anchor) could
receive a new Christian "meaning", cf. . Harland, "fish mosaic" and christian symbols. The Salomon's knot, visible in the
The Jews in
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>249-251 AD: Persecutions under the emperor Decius.
<![endif]>Third century AD: There
are not many Christians in
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>260 AD: Edict of Tolerance (in the western part of the Empire), by the emperor Gallienus. Forty years of peace and security for the Christians.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>284-305 AD: Diocletian, emperor (in the East). In 303 he decides to destroy all churches; Christians who refuse to sacrifice will be killed.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>311 AD: (Second) Edict of Tolerance by the emperor Galerius. Christians are allowed to practice their faith as long as they do not disturb the peace.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>325 AD: The Council of Nicaea is held in order to put an end to the confusion about the "nature" of Christ. The Orthodox Christian doctrine is now (supposed to be) clear.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>381 AD: The emperor Theodosius decides Christian faith will be the official state religion in the Empire.
<![endif]>At the end of the fourth
century Christian victory in
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>381 AD: The emperor Theodosius condemns Arianism ("Jesus was just a man") during the Second Council. The Holy Spirit is added to the Nicaean credo.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>451 AD: The Council of Chalcedon condemns both monophysite and Nestorian (roughly: Arianist) interpretations of Christian faith.
Monks and monasteries:
Heremites (lonely "monks") already existed (cf. St. Antonius
27-325), but the monasteries (communities of monks) were introduced by
Pachomius, an Egyptian who deserted from the army (WV 325). Both male and
female communities came into existence in
Associated Press (AP), zie KUTV; Haaretz.
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This is not a work of science. The author has studied
Greek and Latin, but he is not a specialist in epgraphy, nor in Early
Christianity, nor in Roman mosaics. Errors can always occur (an did occur in
the past). For instance: XP does not seem to be an abbreviation of Christ
(Oikonomides), but centurio (
NOTE ON AKEPTOUS. (One way to solve the problem would be, just for the sake of argument, my own theory X: (a) Akkeptous was a man, (b) hê is in fact ê ('or') and (c) –ous is a Greek redendering for Latin –us, but I don't believe my own theory: (b) may be grammatically correct [°Kühner-Gerth II.2. §538.1-3], but seems to be epigraphically strange (?), (c) is never the case [McLean131f, Reinach 516f; except where Latin is written in Greek letters, Diehl p. 503, nr. 4971], so (a) seems unlikely.) Back.