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Khirbat al-Mukhayyat - The Church of St. George


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

The Church of Saint George, and the small monastery of which it was a part, occupies the very top of the acropolis. The three-naved church is roughly square (12.1 m x 12.5 m) and has entrances in the north, west and south walls. The apsed sanctuary, with a sacristy on each side, is divided from the nave by a chancel screen with two steps. According to a medallion near the chancel screen, the rich mosaic design on the floor of the church was the: “Work of the mosaicists Nahum and Kyriakos and Thomas, for the repose of Sabinus, the brother of Martyrius.”

A geometric panel of interlaced circles decorates the area in front of the altar. Birds face a reliquary basket under the altar and, behind the altar, a lamb stands by a tree. A lengthy dedicatory inscription runs along the step of the chancel screen: “O, St. George, accept the offering and work of the people of this village, for the salvation, and as an offering of the brothers Stephen and Elias, the sons of Cometissa. At the time of the most pious and most holy Bishop Elias, it was finished. At the time of the most beloved by God … was built and finished, during the consulate of the most illustrious Flavius, in the month of Dius of the fourth indiction [A.D. 536], for the salvation of Rabbus, econom of the most holy church, and of … priest and paramonarius of [the Church of] St. George.”

The central, carpet-style mosaic is surrounded by a border of swastikas forming square panels. It is decorated with the busts of the four Seasons on the eastern and western sides; a single foliate mask in the southwest corner; animals; a goblet; and a single leaf. The inner design of the mosaic is divided into four rows of acanthus scrolls with scenes of the chase and the harvest. In the first and easternmost row, the Earth is depicted with the two young karpoforoi at her sides. The adjacent row depicts a vineyard scene with two young men cutting grapes. On either side are panels with grapes carried on a horse and a flute player. The third row depicts a solitary reaper cutting wheat while a horseman shoots an arrow at a lion pursued by a dog. In the fourth and final row, two men immobilize a bull with a lasso.

The decoration of the intercolumnar panels includes two birds with ribbons around their necks facing a bowl on a pedestal; a fox eating grapes from a basket; an eagle; and a running dog. A dedicatory inscription reads: “The offering of Ammonius and Epiphania and of their children, John and Sergius. And for the salvation of Saol, [son of] Kasiseus and his children, Mica Kallinike and Mary Kallinike.” In a second medallion, the names of two other benefactors are mentioned: “For the salvation of the Archdeacon Saol [and for] the resurrection of John.”

A rectangular panel welcomed the faithful who entered the church from the north door. Vine scrolls are formed by two vines emerging with a palm from a jar placed between two peacocks. The scrolls contain the figures of a vintner cutting grapes and a young man portrayed as an orans: “John [son] of Ammonius.” Inside the eastern side of the panel (but not in the scrolls), a lion and a zebu face each other.

The southern sacristy has two deer and a pair of doves facing a palm tree. Along with the name of the benefactor, Saol, is an inscription of an isolated word in a Semitic script. This inscription may be Christo-Palestinian Aramaic, but it is also possible that it is the first evidence of Arabic script in Jordan. If it is Arabic, it reads bisalameh, “in peace.”


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Created by John Abela ofm. Updated by John Abela ofm / Carmelo Pappalardo ofm
On Saturday, 31 July, 2004 at 7:17:24 pm
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