Ascalon, Gaza, Negev and Sinai
102. The (place) of the Egyptians
Le Calendrier Palestino-Géorgien du Sinaiticus 34 (Xe siècle), G. Garitte Ed., Bruxelles 1958, pp. 412-413.
Martyrum Aegiptiorum. - Il s'agit sans nul doute du groupe des SS. Arès, Promus et Élie, originaire d'Égypte, martyrs en Palestine; ils sont inscrits plus haut au 14 décembre, jour de leur martyre; mais ils sont commémorés dans les synaxaires grecs le 19 ou le 18 décembre et dans le calendrier de Naples le 19 décembre. On les désignait couremment per le nom de "martyrs égyptiens"; voir l'Anonyme de Plaisance, ch. 33; cfr. Anal. Boll., 40 (1922), p. 80.
Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 65-66)
Their sanctuary might be identical with one of the two Byzantine churches, unearthened in the quarter called Barnea in 1954 and 1966/197, about 2 km north of ancient Ashkelon (see no. 103).
Bellarmino Bagatti (Ancient Christian Villages of Judaea and Negev, Jerusalem - in the press)
Ascalon, Maiuma (Maioumas) of Ascalon (extract)
Since the medieval period Ascalon or Ascalona has been located at the port which, after the Israeli occupation in 1948, became a national park. At the same time a new quarter called Barnea developed to the north. When roads and houses were being built, ancient buildings, including two churches, emerged from the sands. This led us to suppose that in Roman and Byzantine times Ascalon extended north and the present park, site of the primitive city, became Maiuma of Ascalon in the sixth century.
Remains of a Byzantine church at Ascalon-Barnea
In 570 the Anonymous Pilgrim of Piacenza was in Ascalon and noted: "Then we entered Ascalon. There is the Well of Peace ... made like a theater, in which one goes down by steps to the water. Three martyred brothers from Egypt repose there; each of them has a name of his own, but the people call them 'The Egyptians.' One mile away is the city of Saraphia and nearby is Maiuma of Ascalon."
The presumption is that the martyrs were venerated in a church. Two Byzantine sacred buildings were unearthed in Barnea. One is a three-nave church with a chapel attached to the south side and some unexcavated rooms to the north. As for its chronology, nothing can be determined since the excavators worked at a level below the floor: this had disappeared but was probably made of flagstones, judging by the numerous fragments of marble slabs found in the dig. Many glass tesserae were also scattered about, indicating that the walls were faced with mosaics. Crosses are carved on the columns, probably made by worshippers; the capitals, made of marble like the columns, are decorated with acanthus leaves.
Of the other building only the pavements of two rooms remain. Three mosaic inscriptions are preserved. The easternmost one reads: "In the year 602, in the month of Artemisius and the eighth indiction, under the most God-loving and saintly bishop Anastasius, the entire complex of the diakonikon was built from the foundations and mosaicked." Reckoning by the era of Ascalon, we can fix the year 498/9 for the erection of this building. The second inscription, in the same room, quotes Ps 22, 1: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want," probably an allusion to the function of the diakonikon which existed to provide economic relief to the Christians. The third inscription, in theother room, quotes Ps 93, 5: "Holiness befits your house, O Lord, for length of days. In the year 597, month... it was made and mosaicked." The year corresponds to 493, earlier than the date of the other inscription; the later date can be considered to refer to a renovation of the room. The decoration of the mosaic is geometric, with the exception of a vine trellis issuing from an amphora (Tzaferis, IEJ 17 , pp. 125-26).
Remains of Byzantine churches (capitals, chancel-screen pillars, etc.) are now gathered in an outdoor museum. They obviously come from different sacred places, as appears from their varying sizes and styles. Such pieces can be classified as architectural elements of the Byzantine period.
For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Ascalon", 68.
Map Section 9 Place Sources