Inscription Remembering the Benefactor Matrona
second half 6th century
Made in Jordan, excavated Kayanus Church, ‘Uyun Musa
Stone tesserae, red letters on a white background
29 1/8 x 43 11/16 x 5 7/8 in. (74 x 111 x 15 cm)
Franciscan Archaeological Institute–Mount Nebo, Custody of the Holy Land
Not on view
A popular pilgrimage site in the Byzantine Empire’s southern provinces was Mount Nebo, where, according to Deuteronomy, God is said to have shown Moses the Promised Land. Mosaics at several churches in the area attest to the diversity of Christians drawn there. At the Kayanus Church at ‘Uyun Musa, north of Mount Nebo, inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic survive along with figurative mosaics, including images of Ghassanid Arabs who, as Christians, served in the Byzantine army. Varying languages were also used at the Church of Saint George at Khirbat al-Mukhayyat in the village of Nebo, another site visited by pilgrims.
Written in Greek, the text reads: "For the salvation [and] offering of Matrona," an inscriptional formula often found on liturgical objects. Handsomely framed and inscribed, the mosaic reflects the wealth and generosity of the donor, possibly a member of the Greek-speaking local elite or one of the many Byzantine-era pilgrims at sites honoring Moses.