Jerusalem- (YMCA extra-mural) - Monastery

Church/Monastery name: 
Jerusalem- (YMCA extra-mural) - Monastery
Inscription number: 
Selected bibliography: 
78-80, pl. 48.3 (ph.) (ed. pr.)
216-217, no. 102 A
164-169, fig. 119 (ph.)
Abbreviation for Journals and Series
Epigraphical corpora: 

SEG 8 (1937): 205

CIIP I.2 (2012): 1000 (ph.)

Inscription type: 

Findspot: In the debris of a structure of uncertain purpose, at the northern edge of the excavated area, in the sports grounds of the YMCA.

Pres. loc.: Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, IAA inv. no. 1934-879. Autopsy: 5 March 2008 (Leah Di Segni).

Physical description : 

Slab of limestone, broken, but all four edges are preserved, fully or in part. Since a cross within a circle in the upper border is far left of the axis, there was probably another cross at the corresponding spot on the right, where the whole upper corner of the slab is lost. The inscription is set in four lines. Two different kinds of omicron are used: one small round and slightly floating above the line, the other almond-shaped. Sigma and epsilon also have two different shapes, one round, the other narrow, with the upper curve almost reduced to a right angle. Mu and nu have low middle bars. Two abbreviations with small stigma occur in ll.1 and 3. W-shaped omega.

Meas.: h 83.5, w 104, d 8-10 cm; letters 7-8 cm.


       ☩                                          [☩ ?]

ῆμα διαφ<έ>ρ(ον) Σαμ̣[ουὴλ]

       [ἐ]πισκόπου Ἰβέρω[ν]

4     κ(αὶ) τῆς μονῆς αὐτοῦ ὃ ἠγ̣

       ρασαν ἐν τῷ πύργῳ Δα(ουί)δ.


Tomb belonging to Samuel, bishop of the Iberians, and to his monastery, which they bought in (the area of) David’s Tower.


The slab was not discovered in situ, but it was in close proximity to a cemetery of rock-cut graves arranged regularly along two sides of a rectangle and dated by the excavators to the 5-7 c., based on the finds. Their regular arrangement indicates that they belonged to some institution, probably a monastery. Therefore, it seems possible to connect the inscription to this structure. The shape of the letters indicates a date in the second half of the 5 c. or in the first half of the 6 c. (the latter is the date assigned by Iliffe and accepted by Thomsen). From the text it is not clear if the Iberians bought the tomb or the monastery. The monastery of the Iberians near David’s Tower is certainly the one founded by Peter the Iberian in this part of the city – the area of today’s Citadel and south of it towards Mt. Zion – between his arrival in Jerusalem in 437 or 438 and his transfer to Gaza, in 445 at the latest (Vita Petri Iberi 64-65, tr. Horn and Phenix 92-7), and restored by Justinian (Proc. Caes., Aed. V, ix, 6). After Peter left Jerusalem, the direction of his monastery must have passed into the hands of others. However, Samuel, who refers to the monastery as “his own”, was not the abbot, but is called “bishop of the Iberians”. Possibly a Georgian bishop settled in the monastery, and purchased the tomb for himself and for the monastery of which he was a resident; or the Georgian community in Jerusalem, which had its centre in the monastery at David’s Tower, had a bishop of its own.

For further discussion on the cemetery excavated at YMCA with relation to the complex of the Iberian monastery "near David’s Tower" as a whole, see Tchekhanovets, and cf. the funerary inscription of the deacons(?) of Anastasis found in secondary use at the the courtyard of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in Gethsemane (CIIP 977).

late 5th - early 6th cent.

Funerary inscription of Samuel, bishop of the Iberians, on a slab of limestone found among the debris.

Definitions of building/part of building: 
Ecclesiastical titles: 
Geographical names: 
Personal names: 
Epigraphical Abbreviations: 
small stigmas