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Ascalon, Gaza, Negev and Sinai

124. Maiumas, which is also Neapolis - (al-Minah)


Maiumas near Gaza served as the port of that city. It is first mentioned in the Zeno Papyri (259 B.C.E.; Cairo Papyrus 59.006). In the fourth century it became a Christian city called Constantia Neapolis, and was consequently freed from dependence upon the pagan city of Gaza. It is identified with al-Mina, 2 1/2 mi. (4 km.) from Gaza, on the Mediterranean coast. A synagogue with a mosaic pavement representing King David as Orpheus and dated to 508/9 C.E. was excavated there in 1967.

Michael Avi-Yonah, Encyclopaedia Judaica, ad v. "Gaza"

Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 76)
This is the seaport of ancient Gaza, attested as an independent city in several Byzantine sources. It is identical with al-Mina (coord. 096-103), more precisely: with the ruins south of the road which runs from ancient Gaza to the Sea, about 4 km west of the Old City of Gaza. For the name Maiumas see nr. 12. The bishops of Gaza first resided at Maiumas, because Gaza itself was an obstinate pagan city and offered resistance to christianity. The fragmentarily preserved representation shows a remarkable city.


A marble statue of the Good Shepherd
found in al-Mina - Gaza

Bellarmino Bagatti (Ancient Christian Villages of Judaea and Negev, Jerusalem - in the press)

El Mine, Maiuma of Gaza

Maiuma is 6 kilometers from Gaza and functioned as its port. In the sixth century it had grown to the point that it was regarded as a city in its own right. It was called Constantia, after the emperor Constantine's sister.
Under Julian the Apostate it was again placed under Gaza's administration but then the former situation was restored, and at one point Maiuma acquired its own bishop who was independent of Gaza. The monk Zenon (see below) was its first known bishop between the late fourth and the early fifth century. Paulianus or Paulinianus attended the Council of Ephesus in 431; Paul, nephew of archbishop of Jerusalem Juvenal, was at the second Council of Ephesus in 449. In 444 or 445, at the feast of St. Victor, the Egyptian martyr he ordained the famous Monophysite, Peter the Iberian, together with Ireneion, abbot of the monastery between Maiuma and Gaza where Peter stayed for several years (Vailhé, ROC 5 [1900], p. 44, no.99). Peter abstained from exercising the priesthood, because of his preference for monastic life, until in 452 the people of Maiuma had him ordained bishop by force. He retained the charge until his death in 491, although he resided in Maiuma only for a short time after his election. Another Monophysite, John Rufus, author of the Plerophories, succeeded him. The last known bishop is Procopius, who took part in the synod of Jerusalem in 518.
In 570 the anonymous pilgrim of Piacenza recounts: "We entered the city of Maiuma in which rests St. Victor." His martyrion must have been an important feature of the city.
In the seventeenth century, Father Morone (p. 473) informs us that the Pasha of Gaza had found at that time some "lead cases with crosses sculptured on them and bones inside" ; that is, some lead coffins of the Late Roman or Byzantine period. He relates further that the Pasha found a most elegant porphyry statue with eyes of silvered glass.
Not far from the beach, the mosaic floor of a synagogue was found in 1965; it represents King David playing the harp. More recent excavations have located remains in various sectors beyond Area C which is the site of the syngogue (Ovadiah, RB 84 [1977], p. 419). In Area F the excavators found, outside the stratification, a marble fragment with a heart-shaped figure surmounted by a cross, "probably representing Golgotha" (Ovadiah, ibid., p. 421).
The place was fortified and the remains are found (check?) 650 m north of the synagogue. It is still impossible to trace the enclosure wall of the city without carrying out further excavations. The remains seem to go back to the fourth and fifth centuries.
On April I I, 1944, we went by a paved road from Gaza to Maiuma, called by the Arabs el-Mine, which consisted of a few old houses. A statue of the Good Shepherd came from here. From the printed notice in the catalog of the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, we learn that it was part of a burial monument (Bagatti, LA 4 [1954], pp. 294-96). The statue has broken legs and the lamb has lost its head.
Some Inhabitants. The Passion of St. Mercurius (martire sotto Giuliano?), preserved in Coptic and published by Orlandi (titolo, luogo e data, p. 97), mentions a man called Hermapollon, a native of the region of Maiuma of Gaza, who had adopted a baby girl because his wife was sterile. St. Jerome, in his Life of Hilarion (ch. 19; PL 23, col.36), reports how a mason of Maiuma named Zananus, while breaking up stones taken from the beach not far from the hermitage of St. Hilarion in order to build a house, became paralyzed; and the saint cured him.
Sozomen (Historia Ecclesiastica VII, 28) speaks of two brothers, natives of Maiuma, Zenon and Aias. They lived an ascetical life in the world, in the days of Theodosius I. They were advocates of the Catholic faith and had suffered for this at the hands of the pagans. Aias took a wife and had three sons: two of them he initiated into the ascetical life and the third he destined to matrimony. Then Aias became a monk and took charge of the church of Bitylion (possibly one and the same as Bethelea: see above, p. ). Zenon became bishop of Maiuma and Sozomen knew him when he was about 100 years old. He says he was assiduous in prayer and work.
Almost three centuries afterward, we know of two scribes, natives of Maiuma, who worked in Nessana in 675-676. They were called Stephen and George and wrote various papyri which were discovered in this city (PNessana 61, 64, 66; H. Dunscombe Colt, Excavations at Nessana III: C.J. Craemer, Non-literary Papyri , Princeton 1958, pp. 181-82, 189-90, 194-95).
A Coptic text relates a conversation supposed held by St. Cyril of Alexandria with a monk called Annarikus, who had in his possession a copy of the Gospel of the Ebionites. He lived in the vicinity of Maiuma of Gaza. The monk believed that Mary was a "Force" that had come into the world. Cyril asked him in which gospel he had read such an expression and the monk answered, "In the gospel that was written for the Jews" (L. Moraldi, Apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento, Turin 1971, p. 374). M. Erbetta (Gli Apocrifi del NuovoTestamento I, Turin data?, p. 127) gives the various opinions regarding this text which has been interpreted in different ways.

For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Maiumas Gazae, Constantia, Neapolis", 175.

Map Section 9 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:40:49
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