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Inscriptions from Bir es-Seba. 



WHILE visiting Bir es-Seba' in the month of April of the 
present year we photographed several Greek inscriptions 
which, up to that time, had 
not been published. Since 
then they have appeared, to- 
gether with photographs of 
the squeezes taken by the Do- 
minicans of Jerusalem, in the 
Revue Bibliqiie (April and 
July, 1903). In spite of this 
anticipation, it will be seen 
that our photographs of the 
originals still possess sufficient 
value for purposes of study to 
warrant their publication, and, 
furthermore, in the case of the 
mortuary inscriptions, I am 
able to advance some sugges- 
tions for the elucidation of 
more obscure points. All 
these inscriptions, like those 

previously published from Bir es-Seba*, in all probability came from 
the ruins to the east of the present village which has so recently 
sprung up. All the ground there has been very thoroughly over- 
hauled in the search for building material to be used in the struc- 
tures of the new settlement. The careless and destructive way in 
which the digging has been carried on is shown by the many frag- 
ments of marble, some of them of considerable size, which are strewn 

Pl. I. 



OMAKAPIOr Aveird-q 6 juaKapLos UpOKOwLo^ iv 

ivS{LKTL(x)VO<s) 0' 


K TOY^O^ The blessed Procopius died on the 

p-rOVC ^^^^ ^^ ^^^ month Loos of the year 


576, indiction ix. 

This inscription is on a slab of gray marble about i foot 10 
inches high and 11^ inches wide. The letters are carefully and 
distinctly cut. The form avcTrayy often appears in funerary inscrip- 
tions. Possibly it may be regarded as the abbreviation of dv€7rdrj cV 
Twv fi6)(9(x)v or KOTTwv} A(i)ov is a mistake of the stone-cutter for 
Aojov. The character g- appears in a twofold significance in this 
inscription : in line 5 as the numeral 6, and in the last line as a sign 
of punctuation.^ The date is given as year 576, indiction ix. As 
the era of Eleutheropolis (199 a.d.) is known to be used in some of 
the inscriptions from Bir es-Seba'/ it is natural to expect it here ; but 
it is seen at once that the computation is not made on this basis. 
Father Abel therefore concludes that the reference must be to the 
Christian era {Revue Biblique, 1903, p. 427). This would, to be 
sure, give us indiction ix., and hkewise assign the inscription to 
about the period to which we expect it to belong. Such a use of the 
Christian era is, however, so far as I know, without parallel at this 
early time in Syria, and therefore highly improbable here. I would 
suggest, accordingly, that it is more likely that we have the era of 
Gaza, namely, Oct. 28, 61 B.C.'* Reckoning on this basis, the date 
of Procopius' death would be Aug. 13, 516 a.d., and this also gives 
us the indiction ix.^ Possibly further evidence of the use of the era 
of Gaza at Bir es-Seba* may be found as new inscriptions are brought 
to light. 

1 See Rev. 14^^; and cf. Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches, ii, 
408 sqq. Note also the suggestion of a possible connection of /xaKdpios with the 
Egyptian makheru. 

2 On these two uses, and on a further possible use as a conjunction, see 
PEFy QS. 1902, pp. 2']Osqq,; RevUe Biblique, 1903, p. 277. 

^ See Revue Biblique, 1902, pp. ^'^'j sqq., 1903, pp. 2745'^. 
^ See Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches, ii. ^K^sqq. 
^ Cf. the inscription given by Clermont-Ganneau, l.c. p. 402, which is dated 
the 22d of L5os, indiction iv., year 571. 



This inscription and those which follow were in the Serai, or 
Government House, at the time of our visit. It is cut on a marble 
slab about i foot io| inches by i foot "j^ inches, and 3 inches thick. 

Pl. 2. 

'Ei/^aSe Kctrat 17 jxaKapta Noi/va 
HhC N0AAe K ITA I H MA l^Tecjydvov MX-qaCa, KaTerW-q Sc h 

KAPIANONNACTe<t>ANOY M^i}) n€pt(Ttoi;) i^' tV8(iKTi(o- 
AIAHCIAKATeTH0HAe ''''^) '' 

G N M H NTTG PITc- fB Here lies the blessed Nonna Ailesia, 

daughter of Stephanus. She was laid 
away on the 12th of Peritios of indie- 


Both names are common. The only difficulty is with PuX-qaia, 
Another sepulchral inscription, which is said to have come from Bir 
es-Seba* and is now in the Turkish museum at Jerusalem, has PuXtj- 
<no<s after the name Kaioumos {PEF, QS, 1903, p. 172; Revue 
Biblique, 1903, pp. 2745"^.). Mr. Macalister refers to this inscription 
as commemorating "the blessed Kaioumos of Jerusalem,** without 
further comment. It would seem that he associates the adjective 
with AtAtix (Aelia Capitolina), the name given to Jerusalem by 
Hadrian, and long employed as its official designation. I incline 
to the opinion cautiously advanced by Father Vincent, that the gen- 
tile adjective may be connected with the Old Testament Elath (LXX. 
AtAa^, AiXa/jL, etc.). In Greek authors the place is commonly called 
AtAam, with the gentile adjective AlXavtrrj^ ; but 'AtAa or 'AtAas is 
also found (Eusebius, in Lagarde, Onomastica Sacra, 21O79; Proco- 
pius, Philostorgius, ^/.), from which an adjective AtAr/o-tos might be 
derived. The geographical considerations favor this suggestion. In 
the Roman period Elath was a place of considerable importance. 


It was garrisoned by a Roman legion, and the seat of a Christian 
bishop. Its next important neighbor on the north, in Western 
Palestine, would be Bir es-Seba*. 

The year of Nonna's death is not given, and we can say nothing 
certain further than that she died on the loth of February of the 
tenth year of an indiction. Father Abel, on the ground of a strong 
epigraphic similarity of the two inscriptions, as well as of the unusual 
gentile adjectives Ailesios, Ailesia, which they have in common, com- 
bines the epitaph of Nonna with that of Kaioumos, and thus fixes 
the date of her death in 547 a.d. 

3. The small fragment leaning against the last inscription is evi- 
dently from some tombstone. The letters are of the same style as 
those just considered. The fragment is about 8 inches by 10. The 
probable reading is 


THCr INA ... tt^s r tv8(tKTta}vo9) 

The date would thus be the loth of Dios, or Nov. 6. But for the 
pause, one might suggest Trpwrrys ti/8tKTtwi/os for the last line, since 
similar expressions have been found. 

4. tAATOY o-aATo[i;] 

YAOYTOY-l-ePO [h-]o^Xov roi) Upop] 


|0NIAN0YCAAT0\1^ [t]onavo. craAroM 

r mm r 

BIKAPIOCAGYTePr piK6.pio<i Sei^Tep{o^) 

COTTPOBMAOMe NOC o- o 7rpo^<aA>Ao>i/og 

Bl N0OYATTOTUJN pivOov dirb rwv 

N V 

AHAUJN 877X0)1/ 

UJN 0)1/ 

The fragment on the right in the photograph bears letters which 
are sharply, although rather irregularly, cut, and, except in two or 
three instances, are legible beyond all doubt. This piece of marble 
is about I foot 9 inches high, i foot i inch wide, and 3 inches 
thick. Evidently it was broken away from the lower part of a much 

moulton: inscriptions from bir es-seba*. 199 

larger tablet. The style of the letters and the contents lead us at 
once to connect it with another, larger fragment from Bir es-Seba 
which has already been published.^ This contained parts of two 
columns, and Professor Clermont-Ganneau concluded from his study 
of them that the inscription was an official document, possibly an 
imperial decree regarding the taxes to be levied for the support of 
military and administrative officials. His hope that other parts of 
the tablet might be brought to light seems to be in part fulfilled 
by this new fragment, although the relation, not to say the connec- 
tion, of the two pieces is not yet established. The present fragment 
may belong to another column lower down in the tablet. The letters 
are those of the Byzantine epoch. From comparison with the photo- 
graph of the squeeze of the fragment previously found, they seem, if 
anything, more irregular. It is noticeable that in lines 4, 6, and 7 
we have the rounded sigma (C), whereas in the first fragment this 
letter is always square (C), as here, in lines i(?) and 7. Further, 
ov are in no instance joined where they occur in lines 2, 4, and 8, as 
might be expected from the frequent hgature in the other fragment. 
On the other hand, in the arrangement of the Hnes, in the use of the 
title Vicarius (line 6), and in the suggestions of other words, we have 
strong evidence that the two fragments belong to the same inscrip- 
tion. Further study, with the aid that may at any time come from 
new discoveries, will probably make this clear. 



\* i4>opepocoiKOAe 


This inscription, on the left in the photograph, is badly defaced, 
portions being entirely illegible. The block of limestone in which it 
is cut is about 2 feet 2 inches by i foot 3I inches, and about 6| 
inches thick, the raised portion in the middle being about 9^^ inches 
wide. Clearly as certain words seem at first sight to stand out, I am 

6 PEF, QS. 1902, pp. 26g sq.y cf. also p. 236; Recueil d' Archeologie Orientaky 
V. pp. iTpsqq. ; Revue Biblique, .1903, pp. 2'j^sqq. 


not able as yet to suggest any interpretation. I will add the com- 
ment of Father Abel in the Revue Biblique (1903, p. 429), which 
may be taken for what it is worth ; '^ L'inscription, d^couverte par le 
P. Level dans un chantier de fouilles assez voisin de Tun des anciens 
puits, est int^ressante par le mention qu'elle fait de la creation d'un