Christian-Palestinian Aramaic Funerary Inscription
early 6th century
Made in Jordan, excavated Kayanus Church, ‘Uyun Musa
Stone tesserae, white letters on a red background
37 13/16 x 40 9/16 x 5 7/8 in. (96 x 103 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 Christian-Palestinian Aramaic, this funerary inscription from the lower floor of the church reads: "The reader will keep the memory of the benefits of our master GY’N the priest and of his heirs who have provided the furnishings [of the church?]." Aramaic, with its many dialects, and Greek were spoken widely in the region. Gaianus (GY’N), whose name is Greek, was probably a priest who was a benefactor of the church or less likely the bishop of Madaba in the mid-fifth century. The angular white letters are emphasized
by the intense red background and the surrounding white frame.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: [in Christian-Palestinian Aramaic:] The reader will keep the memory of the benefits of our
master GY’N the priest and of his heirs who have provided the furnishings [of the church?]