concept
setting
virtual tour



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

concept
setting
virtual tour

 Explorers
The first to describe and document the church was Major C. R. Conder who included it in his Survey of Eastern Palestine. Conder called it the Western Chapel, saying that it lay west of Misdar el-Madhneh, and was built south of an adjoining cave. Furthermore, he said, "The apse, the window in the south wall, and three pillars of the aisles remain, with four [columns] which belonged to a porch 10 feet wide in the clear." Conder (1889: 56) also described the cave and said that it was probably "sacred as the tomb or cave-dwelling of some saint." The site was visited in 1905 by M.-R. Savignac and F.-M. Abel (1905: 596-97) who noted a pedestal of red granite which they say was found by a Circassian digging for gold. On it, is a Greek inscription read by Gatier (1986: 52) reads as: "The Council and the People honour Martas, son of Diogenes, gymnasiarch, ... for life, constructor of the Heraklion, councilor and president, as proof of esteem." The mention of a "Heraklion," a sanctuary dedicated to the god Herakles, may be important in our understanding of the remains.

In 1908, Savignac and Abel returned to the site, where they recorded another dedicatory inscription in the area near the altar. This was a Greek inscription of a Christian character on a slab of white marble. In it, two important names are mentioned, that of a 'priest of St. George' who built the church and a Polieuctus who was bishop of Philadelphia, ancient Amman (Abel 1908: 570-73).

 Abel's translation reads: "By the willingness of God and the intention of the humble priest of St. George for the good health and long life of our sovereigns and thanks to his generosity, this temple was built under the Saint Bishop Polieuctus and for the good cure of Talassamachia." A question, first raised by the scholar J. T. Milik (1960: 167-69), is whether the priest mentioned here belongs to this church or to another church. If he was a priest of this church, then the structure was dedicated to St. George.

 B. Bagatti visited the site in 1948, accompanied by G. Lankester Harding,who was then Director of Antiquities (Bagatti 1973: 274). He reported that the structure was still intact although the owners had removed the apses.

Bagatti published pictures taken that year, one of which shows some of the columns still in place, and the area transformed into a garden with a Corinthian capital in the middle. The elements at the site which are first mentioned by Bagatti are a bas-relief with a victory, a Roman altar, a cross inscribed in a circle, and a rosette near the entrance. Bagatti says that the altar confirms the presence of a pagan cult at the site preceding the Christian one. Based on the paleography of the Christian inscription which has small letters within the larger ones, and a small circle in the letter N, Bagatti (1973: 276-77) concluded that the inscription with the name of St. George should be dated to the end of the 6th or the beginning of the 7th century. Solely on the basis of the mention of Saint George in the inscription, A. Augustinovic (1972: 43) included the structure among shrines in Jordan dedicated to the Islamic figure, el-Khadr.

 

place | activities | resource | people

site map | home | contact us | search | help