SEG 62 (2012): 1676
CIIP IV.1 (2018): 2751 (ph., dr.)
In the mosaic floor at the eastern end of the northern chapel.
A Greek inscription framed in a tabula ansata was inserted in the mosaic floor at the eastern end of the northern chapel. Only the upper left corner of the tabula ansata is preserved, with part of the left handle and the beginning of three lines of script. The frame consisted of two rows of colored tesserae—the outer one black, the inner red—on a white background. The handle enclosed a triangle traced in red tesserae. The rectangular panel of the tabula ansata contained rectangles traced in red tesserae, each framing a line of the inscription. The attachment point of the triangular handle shows that the entire inscription consisted of four lines, each enclosed in a red frame. The letters are traced in black tesserae, as is a cross marking the beginning of the inscription. In addition, some letters, also made of black tesserae, were inscribed outside the tabula ansata, above the handle. These are remarkable for a twice-repeated ligature of kappa and ypsilon. The last preserved character, an alpha, may have been followed by a small lifted letter that disappeared in a break of the mosaic. As a rule, lifted letters mark an abbreviation; but with or without this additional character, the surviving letters can be identified with reasonable certainty as a truncated form of the word διάκονος—here in the genitive.
Of the inscription in the tabula ansata, only the beginning of three of the four lines can be made out.
above the left handle:
Κυρ(ια)κ(ο)ῦ δια(κόνου) or δια[κ(όνου)]
within the frame:
☩ Ἐπ[ὶ --]
above the handle: Of Kyrikos the deacon.
see comentary for tentative restorations of the second part.
The first part is probably the ‘signature’ of the person in charge of the work, rather than of the artist, though the latter cannot be excluded.
The second part is too broken to be deciphered. However, building inscriptions in churches usually follow a well-known formula: ‘In the days of so-and-so (name of the bishop or of the priest in charge at the time of the building or of the laying of the mosaic floor) this work was done’. Based on this pattern, we may attempt a tentative restoration, for instance:
☩ Ἐπ[ὶ τοῦ ἁγιωτ(άτου) καὶ θεοφιλ(εστάτου) Ἀνα-]
στα[σίου ἀρχιεπισκόπου καὶ πατρι-]
άρ[χου ἐγένετο τὸ πᾶν ἔργον - - - .]
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -]
"In the days of [the most holy and Godloving Ana]sta[sius, archbishop and patri]ar[ch, all the work of the mosaic floor (?) was done.]"
Anastasius was archbishop of Jerusalem—in whose boundaries Kh. el-Laṭaṭin was situated—from 458 to 478, a date that fits well the shape of the letters—at least those few that survived—though not the dating of the mosaic floor of the chapel, according to its style. However, the shape of the letters can also fit a dating in the first half of the sixth century, which would be acceptable, considering the style of the mosaic. An alternative restoration can be attempted, with shorter lines and different presumed proportions of the tabula ansata, better fitting the width of the chapel; e.g.:
☩ Ἐπ[ὶ τοῦ ὁσιωτ(άτου) or θεοφιλ(εστάτου) Ἀνα-]
στα[σίου πρεσβ(υτέρου) καὶ]
[το τοῦτο τὸ ἔργον.]
"In the days of [the most saintly (or: the most God-loving) Ana]sta[sius, priest and] ar[chimandrite, this work was done.]"
Fragmentary two-part mosaic inscription within and above a tabula ansata, at the eastern end of the northern chapel.