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Khirbat al-Mukhayyat - The Church of the Priest John


The Town of Nebo
St. George
Priest John
Lot and Procopius

The Town of Nebo
Churches Pictures:
St. George
Priest John Upper
Priest John Lower
Lot and Procopius

Il restauro del mosaico nella chiesa dei Santi Lot e Procopio


A church in the Wadi ‘Afrit is now known as the Church of Amos and Kasiseus from the names of two benefactors carved on two chancel posts, but the original name of the structure is unknown. It was built in the Vth century and is the oldest in the village.

The plan of the main stone-paved church (18 m x 10.5 m) is clear, as is the location of its liturgical furnishings, including the synthronon in the raised and apsed sanctuary, the base of the altar and the base of a pulpit which protruded into the central nave from the chancel screen. Originally, the church had a northern annex with a lime floor; the annex was adjacent to a cistern hewn into the rock of the mountain.

Only a portion of the main part of the hall is preserved, and the mosaic has suffered considerable damage since its discovery in 1936. The square panels of the swastika motif surrounding the central carpet are decorated with birds. The central panels of the eastern and northern sides of the border, however, contain two portraits of unidentified benefactors, a lady and a priest.

An inner border encloses the composition of the central carpet which is divided into two main parts. The eastern part of the central carpet starts with a two-line dedicatory inscription: “At the time of the most pious and most beloved by God, Bishop John, the holy place was renewed and finished, by the zeal of the priest, John. It was finished in the month of August in the 13th [A.D. 565] indiction for the salvation of, and as a present of, those who have made offerings and [those] who intend to make offerings. Amen.”

In the panel to the west of the inscription, there is a tympanum supported by four small columns. The panel is decorated with trees, bushes, two peacocks, and two roosters, as well as two candlesticks. The area between the columns contains the following inscription: “For the salvation of, and as a present of Your servant Sergius, [the son] of Stephen, and Procopius, [the son] of Porphyria, and Rome, and Mary, and Julian, the monk.”

The main section of the carpet is decorated with acanthus scrolls and includes hunting, pastoral and agricultural scenes. The spaces between the scrolls contain baskets, fruit, fish and flowers.

Four rows of the scrolls survive in the eastern end of the nave. In the first row, a hunter who carries a sword and shield confronts a bear, while a lion reclines idly nearby. The second row contains a representation of the personification of the Earth with her two young karpoforoi at her sides receiving fruits in their baskets. Earth is depicted as a lady crowned with fruits and grain. She offers different kinds of fruit from a cloth she has in her hands. In the third row, a young shepherd with a slingshot in his hand, pursues a wild boar, apparently to defend a sheep which is shown in the panel next to him. In the fourth and final row, a country woman, who has a knife in her right hand, carries a basket of fruit; a dog crouches behind her.


After the mosaic floor of the northern chapel of the Church of Amos and Kasiseus was removed for restoration, an older mosaic floor was discovered. Subsequent excavations showed that in the second half of the Vth century, during the time of Bishop Fidus of Madaba, the nave of what later became the upper chapel had been two rooms joined by a step. There was a chapel to the east and another room adjacent to the mouth of the cistern to the west. The western area (3.5 m x 4.6 m) contains two small water basins on the south and north sides and a mosaic for which a Deacon Kaium was responsible. At the center of a plain white mosaic floor, there is a three-line inscription: “O Lord, have mercy on Deacon Kaium.”
The chapel to the east is small (10 m x 4.6 m), and another step at its eastern end divides a square chancel from the hall. In the chancel, within a guilloche, grape vines issue from a vase to create five volutes which contain two lambs, a running hare, another beast, and a bird. Column bases for an altar were inserted later into the floor, partly destroying it.

The hall itself contains a mosaic in which the carpet is surrounded by a swastika motif in which the square panels are decorated with birds, a basket with grapes, and a small inscription, now unfortunately destroyed. The carpet is divided into four rows of vine scrolls formed by two vines extending from a vase which is set between two rampant lionesses.

At the eastern side of the inner carpet there is a dedicatory inscription: “Good Health! At the time of the beloved and most holy Bishop Fidus, this holy place was renovated and finished.” A second inscription is found in the central scroll of the first row between two horned stags: “Good Health! Under the most pious Priest John, by care of the most pious Deacon Silanus.” The following two rows of vine scrolls show a vintner cutting grapes and a peasant carrying the grapes on the back of a donkey. In the scroll adjacent to the peasant, a zebu with long horns is depicted. The left scroll has animals, including a dog in pursuit of prey and a stag. The chapel dates to the second half of the Vth century, making this mosaic floor one of the earliest known works of the mosaicists of the Madaba region.


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On Saturday, 31 July, 2004 at 7:12:09 pm
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