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MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT

P. Figueras

This study is a developed version of a paper read at the XVIII International Congress of Byzantine Studies, celebrated in Moscow on August 1991.1 Its main purpose is to fill a certain gap existing among scholars, historians and archaeologists, concerning the monastic history of the Roman province of Third Palestine, extending from the plain of Beersheva southwards, and including the Negev desert, most of the Sinai peninsula and the southern region of Transjordan. Indeed, those scholars who, led by an abundant monastic literature, have engaged in a serious research of the archaeological remains of the ancient Palestinian monks, such as Chariton, Eutymius and Sabas, have not crossed the limits of the Judean Desert (Vailhé 1889/90; Festugière 1962/63; Hirschfeld 1991 and 1993; Patrich 1993).2 Others, having tracked the Gaza region in the steps of Hilarion at Thauatha, Sylvanus at Gerar and Seridos near Maiumas of Gaza, have come back rather frustrated (Chitty 1966b). On the other hand, a general updated history of the ancient Church of Palestine is still to be written, though very good tools are today available to anybody wishing to engage in such a scholarly adventure.3 The chapter dealing with the southern region, that is, the Negev desert, is consequently non-existent,4 and nobody has ever tried to follow the traces of a monastic presence there. It seems as if monks and monastic founders never had the
1. This study has partly been written in collaboration with Mr. Ofer Katz, a former student

of mine at Ben Gurion University, today member of the Israel Antiquities Authority. I wish to express him my deepest appreciation. 2. For studies made on Palestinian monasticism see the bibliographic references at the end of the present article. 3. See Bagatti 1972; Id. 1971, The Church from the Circumcision, Jerusalem; Meimaris 1986; Y. Geiger, “Hitpashtut hannatzrut be Eretz Israel mereshitah ad iemei Iulianos” [Expansion of Christianity in Palestine from its Beginning to Julian’s period], in Y. Tsafrir, ed., 1982, Eretz Israel from the Destruction of the Temple to the Muslim Conquest, Jerusalem, pp. 218-233 (Hebrew); Z. Rubin, “Hitpashtut hannatzrut be Eretz Israel miemei Iulianos ad tequfat Iustinianos [Expansion of Christianity in Palestine, from Julian to Justinian],” ibid, pp. 234-251 (Hebrew). 4. More than one researcher, however, has recently made valuable efforts in this direction, not only from the point of view of archaeology and urbanism (Shereshevski 1991), but also from the point of view of history and sociology (Rubin 1990). LA 45 (1995) 401-450; Pls. 53-58

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Fig. 1 General map of the monastic sites in the Negev.

opportunity to cross that extensive desert, although they were well established around it, in the Gaza region, in the Judean Desert and in the Sinai complex.5 The province of Third Palestine enjoyed Church organisation as much as any other province in the Roman Empire, and flourishing cities such as Petra, its capital, Elusa (Óalutza), Zoar, Phaino (Punon) and Aila possessed their Episcopal Sees. The presence of monks there is therefore to be expected almost as a matter of fact. If this, therefore, can be illus5. This statement is based on the well-known text of Jerome in his Vita Hilarionis (see be-

low, Elusa). The building of the first Christian churches in the towns existing in the Negev in that period could be assigned, in the first place, to the official provision of Christian worship places for the units of the Roman army stationed there since the annexation of the Nabatean territories to the Empire in A.D. 106. There is no agreement among scholars about the number, the location and the exact function of those units, that were stationed more in the towns than in the desert areas (B. Isaac, 1990, The Limits of Empire, Oxford, pp. 132134; but see P. Figueras, 1992, “The Worship of Athena-Allat in the Decapolis and the Negev,” Aram 4, pp. 173-183 [178-179]).

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trated by some literary or archaeological evidence, then we must logically think that some kind of relations, and not only purely spiritual ones, existed between those four monastic regional groups, namely the Judean Desert, the Gaza region, the Sinai mountain and the Negev desert. It is true that no ancient Church historian left us a particular page with dramatic events having occurred in southern Palestine, but there is enough material today, both written and archaeological, to allow us to form a realistic picture of the Negev monasticism. We must admit not only that there were monks in the Negev since the very beginning of its Christianization, but we can also start recording on the map the spots where some of the coenobia, laurae, and urban monasteries were situated. We have references to abbots, monks and hermits both in the pilgrim records and in local epigraphy. Some of their names are still written on their tombs, we can visit the remains of coenobitic monasteries and of churches served by monks, and some hermits’ caves and cells are easily accessible. Actually, there is also written evidence of relations having existed between monastic centers in the Negev and others outside it. We also know of some monastic activities such as writing and agriculture. Finally, we can read the names of monks who, representing monastic regional complexes in the Negev, placed their signatures on the protocols of the Ecumenical Synod of Constantinople in 536. This fact alone attests not only to the high degree of internal organization, but also to the relevance assigned by the Church authorities to that institution. In comparison with the importance of their neighbors in the Judean Desert, the monks from the Negev may have played a very humble role in the general history of the Church of Palestine. But the picture that we can trace of their presence and their importance in the general development of the region during the Byzantine period is not negligible at all. In the following pages we shall proceed to obtain the main lines of that picture through a rather systematic and analytic review of the data collected from both groups of existing sources, namely literary and archaeological. This will be done following a geographic scheme, arbitrarily set in alphabetic order and illustrated with photographs, plans and drawings. It will therefore be much more than a “monastic gazetteer of the Negev,” our purpose being to offer a working tool. I am well aware of the fact that, in many a case, my interpretation of a given datum and some of my guesses will be received with doubt and caution by scholars. But I am no less certain that such criticism will lead to a fruitful discussion and to further research. The sources used for the building-up of the gazetteer according to wellestablished criteria, can be listed in the following way:

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A. Literary sources: 1. Acts of Church councils or synods6 2. Patristic writings, including monastic literature7 3. Pilgrims’ records8 4. Local epigraphy9 5. The Nessana papyri10 B. Archaeological sources: 1. Caves carved on the walls of a wadi, with Christian symbols11 2. Building complexes including most of the typical elements of a coenobitic monastery and situated far away from any settlement12 3. Great urban basilicas having a complex of rooms around their atrium or attached to other parts of the building13 4. A complex of caves and rooms around a central chapel, in a spot remote from any other settlement14
6. Signatures of monks from the Third Palestine and from other parts of the country are

found in the Acts of the Ecumenical council gathered by Justinian in Constantinople in 536 (Schwartz 1940, 248; see below, Aila). This is a major witness, not only to the existence of monks and monasteries in the Negev, but especially to their importance as a well-organized body of the Church of Palestine in the sixth century. 7. Their list includes the names of Jerome (Vita Hilarionis, 25, PL 23), John Moschus (Spiritual Prairie, PG 87/3, 2032: “Abba Victor, hesychastes in the laura of Elusa”), Cyril of Scythopolis (Life of Theognios, trad. Festugière 1963, p. 66: “Abba Paulos, the hesychastes of the city of Elusa”), and the same Paul of Elusa (Life of Theognios, ed. Vailhé, AB 10, 73118). 8. Like today, the number of Christian visitors to the Negev was very restricted in comparison with other parts of the country, as no biblical “Holy Places” are there to be venerated. However, many pilgrims crossed this region on their way to Mount Sinai, as the anonymous Piacenza Pilgrim, who refers to monks and monasteries in the regions of Elusa, Mizpe Shivta (see below, s.v.) and Zoar, south of the Dead Sea. For a general discussion on the issue of Byzantine pilgrims in the Negev, see Figueras 1995 (in press). 9. To the collected inscriptions from the region published by Alt (1921), we can add a list of new publications about inscriptions from 1. Nessana (G.E. Kirk and C.B. Welles, in Colt 1962, 131-197; P. Figueras, “The Inscriptions,” in D. Urman, New Excavations in Nessana, vol. I [in press]). 2. Oboda, Sobata, Mampsis and Elusa (Negev 1981). 3. Beersheva and its region (Figueras 1985; id. 1986; Ustinova - Figueras 1995). 4. Ru˙eibeh (Tsafrir 1988). 5. Beersheva, Elusa, Oboda, Sobata, and other places (Figueras 1995a, in press). 10. Discovered in the course of the expeditions conducted by H. D. Colt in 1935-37 (Colt 1962), and studied and published by Kraemer (1958). 11. See below, ‘Ein ‘Avdat, Wadi Mu’eille˙ and Mampsis. 12. See below, Tel Masos, Tel ‘Ira. 13. See below, Sobata, Oboda, Ru˙eibeh, Nessana. 14. See below, Mitzpe Shivta.

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It will be noticed that the list of monastic sites in the region of our concern does not pretend to be exhaustive. Some of them, like a ruin next to Tel Sheva, have never been reported as such, though they are commonly accepted as having been monasteries. I have preferred to list only those that are available by some literary support.

Aila (near present ‘Aqaba, map ref. 145.884) Formal excavations have only recently been started in ancient Aila, the prosperous harbor-city of Nabateans, Romans and Byzantines on the Red Sea. It is partly identified with the present ruins of Um-Rashrash, on the northernmost point of the Gulf of Eilat or ‘Aqaba, near the Jordanian city of the same name (Avi-Yonah 1977, s.v.). Nelson Glueck’s expedition to the ruins of biblical Etzion-Geber also made sporadic finds from the Byzantine period near the beach. One of them was two sculptured capitals, obviously belonging to one of the local churches. One shows a Roman soldier holding a sphere with a cross on it, identified with St. Theodore by an accompanying inscription (Glueck 1939). The other represents another soldier saint in full armor, identified as St. Longinus by an inscription in Greek (ibid.; Taylor 1987, fig. 3). Another Christian inscription from the area, the tomb-stone of a certain Osedos dated to A.D. 555, was published by Schwabe (1953, 51-55). From the nearby area, Kh. el-Khalde at Wadi el-Yitm, some 25 km to the northeast of Aila, a third Christian inscription was discovered by Glueck (ibid.), witness to the presence of an ancient Christian settlement in that area. At Horvat Bodeda (map ref. 140.890), situated 7 north-west of present Eilat, the remains of a Byzantine complex were found, including a four-room building and a Christian chapel decorated with wall paintings and inscriptions, which, as far as I know, have not yet been published. Given the lonely environment of those ruins, one can logically think of the presence of a little monastery in that spot. This, however, is only a suggestion, because it is clear that in ancient times the place had been exploited as quarry. According to Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15, 145), Um-Rashrash was also called Ed-Deir, Arabic for “The Monastery.” Actually, no remains of any big building have so far been indicated by visitors to the spot. If there is any historic reason for that term, we can imagine the remains of a rather small group of monastic cells having later disappeared under the building of the Turkish police station. Burkhardt (1822, 511-512) also pointed out a place called Ed-Deir near ‘Aqaba, a small island, which cannot be other than the

51. 16. In Sobata. a well-instructed noble man who embraced monastic life in the Egyptian desert in the fourth century. near the southern entrance to the Gulf of ‘Aqaba or Eilat. the so-called Notitia Graeca Episcopatuum. . 25. This important reference to the existence of monks and monasteries in Aila and surroundings during the Byzantine period has been strangely ignored by all historians and archaeologists concerned by Palestinian monasticism.D. Thus we not only have twice the signature of “Elias. A much later source. without diminishing it. Sobata). but also that they were of orthodox denomination and sufficiently organised as to send a representative to the council. the tomb of a “triceblessed Arsenius.” who signs “in the name of all the monks of Aila in the Third Palestine” (Schwartz 1940. 536 against Anthimus. we find a certain “John. recently excavated and partly restored by the Egyptian authorities.406 P.. 15. certainly not far from that city. The most valuable source of information for our knowledge of a monastic presence in Aila comes from the acts of the Constantinopolitan Council gathered by Justinian in A. among the names of the clergy signing the council’s decisions. the importance of Aila as a monastic center.15 The only ruins to be seen today on that island are those of a medieval Arab castle. It would be wrong to look for historical links between this “great Arsenius” and the well-known Abbot Arsenius referred to in the Apophtegmata Patrum (PG 65. 93). 29) and “the monks of the monasteries of the three Palestines” (ibid. by God’s mercy priest and monk. 554. monk and priest” was discovered on the floor of the baptistry chapel in the north church (see below. adds an interesting note referring to the bishopric of Aila. There. 17. Today its is currently assumed that Yotabe or Jotabe should be looked for at today’s Straights of Tiran. It is true that the monasteries of other cities of the Third Palestine sent delegates to the council too. PG 87.16 This reference is an important evidence to the fact that. 62-66. ch. and thus nearer to Aila but still too far. Indeed. we know from John Moschus that a “laura of the Ailanites” (tön Ailiotön) had been founded there in the sixth century by a certain “abbot Antony. 37. 40. but it could only be within the jurisdictional radius of Aila’s bishopric. 22). wrongly taken by some as ancient Yotabe. FIGUERAS present Coral Island.18 There is a possibility that it was situated around Mount Sinai. one of the Negev towns. of whom many edifying anecdotes are told. and in the name of the monks of Augustopolis of the Third Palestine” (Schwartz 1940. 33 [35]). by God’s mercy deacon and monk. not only were there monks in the region.” and where “abbot Stephen” was the priest (John Moschus. We do not know today where that monastery was situated. 134). 18. 51.17 but this only confirms. 248). saying: “It has under it the monastery of Great Arsenius” (Palmer 1872. but also the mention of “all archimandrites and monks in the third Palestine” (ibid. Spiritual Prairie.. 71-442).

footnote 9). situated twenty miles south of Hebron” (Wilkinson 1977. 1338. Archaeological evidence includes the imposing remains of churches. A. 160). possibly to be identified with biblical Beersheva despite other more generalised views. is known from different sources. There is not only the fact that Stephen. 1322-1365 (ed.22 Byzantine ruins on the spot were later acknowledged by a number of western scholars. 348). To the first group belongs: 1) Eusebius’ Onomasticum19 in the fourth century. only a small number of fortuitous 19. and 3) the geographic mosaic pavement from Madaba21 in the sixth. “a very big village.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 407 Relations between the monks of Mt. De itinere Terre Sancte (ed.. n. A. Early Travels in Palestine. 2) the records of pseudo-bishop Eucherius20 in the fifth. Musil (1907).072) This city. to have existed on the same place in the Byzantine period. 67). Seetzen (1855). bishop of Lyons. calls Berosaba vicus maximus.” in which “a fortress (phrourion) of soldiers” (Jerome: “praesidium militum Romanorum”) is situated (Klostermann 1904. 4-25). who writes some fifty years after Jerome and uses his Latin translation of the Onomasticum. Avi-Yonah 1954. de Sudheim. 71). 22. Pieces of major historical interest among these occasional finds were the fragmentary inscriptions today known as “Imperial Decree of Beersheva” (Alt 1921.e.D. New York. 1968. p. This source refers to the town as kome megiste. a monk from Sinai. Thus Sir John de Maundeville. 1884. 54). 98. dealing with the regulation of civil payments to the Roman army. Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15). Wright. Sinai and the people of Aila are also known from other sources. Birosaba (Beersheva. 262). Abel (1903b). Other inscriptions have more recently been discovered and only partially published (see above. 257. reports on the visit paid by bishop Sergius of Aila to Abbot Orentius of Sinai at his deathbed (Nau 1902. Neumann. .D. and L. Paris. literary as well as epigraphic and archaeological. map ref. G. 21. But a century later. 20. 130. p. T. Anastasius. was from Aila. the builder of the Sinai basilica about the mid-sixth century. The same source also tells the story of a famous monk from Sinai who summoned one of his spiritual brothers from Aila before his death (ibid. i.23 When the present town of Beersheva was planned by the Ottoman government and the building activity started at the turn of the century. 23. Pseudo-Eucherius. whose existence has been recorded since the Middle Ages. according to the inscription on one of the roof beams (Sevøenko 1966. C. “a very big village. 50f). such as Robinson (1838). Archives de l’Orient Chrétien.

” We cannot know. Byzantine Beersheva has not been the object of a comprehensive project. “The Monastery. 12. 18c). confers some plausibility to the popular identification of those ruins by later generations of local Arabs. including. somewhat away from the town and near the wells along the wady that would ensure enough water for a monastic community. Some of the most important remains from the Byzantine period. As far as formal excavations are concerned. Byzantine ruins (Abel 1903a). during one of his visits to the spot when the building of the new town had just started (Fig. mosaic pavements. 2 Birosaba. . the term “monastery” (Figueras 1985. if those were really the ruins of a monastery. O. 2). Greek inscriptions. 24. no. were first published by Woolley and Lawrence (1914-15). but the sporadic digs conducted there by modern Israeli archaeologists so far.408 P. But their location. 1994. 20. including also the ruins of two possible monasteries. That sketch indicates a place near the wadi running to the south of the present old city with the name Ed-Deir.P. probably as a consequence of the First World War. farm installations and necropolises could be rescued for study and publication (Figueras 1982). with no clear context. have brought to light important remains.24 An informal sketch of the ruins of ancient Birosaba was drawn in 1903 by Fr.. FIGUERAS discoveries of church ruins. One is the room complex around the atrium of a rather large basilica (24×15 m) discovered Fig. Abel. no. More important may be the fragmentary inscription on a tomb-stone found in the present city. but later they were unfortunately lost. of course. such as a monolith cruciform Baptism font and a chancel column inscribed with Hebrew characters.

New excavations in Beersheva are taking place these very days to the east of the Municipal Market. See a short report of the dig. a residential complex from the Byzantine period was discovered and partially excavated in the south of the present city. It was situated at the present crossing of the Eli Cohen street and Presidents’ Avenue. pl. The fact that this monk is called by the honorary title of aba. in the sixth century. but a Greek epitaph found there in secondary use is presently being published (Ustinova Figueras 1995). We also learn from the letters that he had an impatient character.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 409 in 1948 and excavated in 1967 by Y. by the humility with which he approached his spiritual father asking for counsel. Peter Fabian. 117. north-east of the old city. that was compensated. conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority under the direction of Mr. 103. between Gaza and Maiumas. p. no. apparently fortified with city walls and towers (Avi-Yonah 1944. no official report of this discovery has seen light. From his letters to Barsanuphius it becomes evident that he was an expert in building. used in that period.” or “abbot”. with a picture of the mosaic found. In the course of 1991. 10. Elusa (El Khalassa. possibly indicates that John had been the Superior of a monastery in his native town of Beersheva before joining the monastery of Seridos. we may adduce the correspondence of Barsanuphius. to address the Superior of a monastery. The doubtless Christian character of the rather sumptuous building allows us to think that it could have been. map ref. Óalutza. and in the Madaba Map as a big town. and which has now totally disappeared. and the foundations of a huge cruciform church have been exposed. are situ- 25.056) The ruins of the ancient city of Elusa. at least for a time. one of two famous recluse monks in Seridos’ monastery. which is indicated in the Peutinger map on the Jerusalem-Aila road. however. as today. the premises of a monastic community. In no less than six of his two thousand preserved letters “the great old man” Barsanuphius addressed a certain “Abbot John of Birosaba” who was living in the same monastery (Chitty 1966a). . generally. though not exclusively. on the southern bank of Nahal or Wadi Beersheva. 6). So far.25 As written evidence of a monastic presence in Birosaba. or at least had been appointed supervisor of the building activity in the monastery. Israeli (1967). “Father. in Yedi‘ot A˙aronot 31 July 1994.

The spot was visited by several travelers in the last century. ated some 20 km south of present Beersheva. whom he calls “hesychastes . Archaeological evidence of the presence of monks or monasteries in ancient Elusa has not appeared so far.in the laura of Elusa” (PG 87/3. The visit to the spot by the Dominican Fathers of the École Biblique in Jerusalem yielded several Greek inscriptions from the Byzantine period and earlier (Jaussen . Theognios.i. and was identified with ancient Elusa as early as 1835 by Robinson (1841).. Colt. comes from the Church literature. The evidence. 2032). however. who had succeeded Theognios as superior of his monastery near Je- .D.410 P. bishop of Bitylium in Northern Sinai (Vailhé 1891) has as its author “Abbot Paul of Elusa”.Vincent 1904).e.Savignac . Another source. plan of ruins (Negev 1988. which exposed only the Nabatean theater and part of the cathedral church (Fig. near the socalled “Óalutza sands”. nor from the excavations undertaken there by A. Negev in 1973.D. 1979 and 1980. FIGUERAS Fig. In the sixth century A. in a desert zone. John Moschos mentions in his famous book Spiritual Prairie a certain Victor. an extensive biography of St. 3) (Negev 1993). 115). 3 Elusa. hermit . neither from the short dig conducted on that spot in 1938 by H.

and given food by the Christians. who visited the place about 570 A. 60 m above the bed of the wadi and 40 m under the the top of the precipice. whose husband had died on the very night of the wedding. 87). The bishop of the city told him about a young lady called Mary. 4): This is a natural cave that was adapted as living premises.D. “and they used to give food to a lion. Tsafrir on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities in the seventies (Meshel .. more than sixteen or seventeen of them who were in a desert place. and given away all his property to the poor and to monasteries. Here we have a small group of four caves. tame from the time it was a cub” (ibid. in contrast with the numerous laurae that are found in narrow canyons or wadis of the Judean desert. 153. and See of the only bishop of the central Negev (Figueras 1981. Both the location and the shape of the cave are typical of the Byzantine hermitages in Palestine. near the main entrance to the cave. a better picture will be reached of the monastic presence in and around the most important of the cities of the central Negev. 85). These four caves were examined during the survey conducted on the spot by Z.5 m respectively.8 m and 1.” They had a donkey at their service. partly excavated artificially in the soft limestone rock of the northern wall of Nahal Tzin. Paul must have deserved such name after a long stay in one of the monasteries of the most important city. 128. and within a week she had set all his slaves free. of the Byzantine Negev. These are for the moment the scarce data that can be collected from the sources.5×4. on Elusa see also Mayerson 1983).Tsafrir s.” in the Dead Sea region (Wilkinson 1977.” She then disappeared from the city. actually the only real city. Cave No. A third and more explicit source from the same period are the records of the so-called Piacenza Pilgrim. 1 (Fig. and was seen living as a wandering hermit “in the desert across the Jordan.). if a proper excavations program is once enterprised in the ruins of ancient Elusa. “She bore it with courage.6×1. Access to the caves is by narrow steps carved into the rock. above the niche on the wall that was probably used as a cupboard.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 411 rusalem. . Meshel and Y. There is no doubt that.a. The same pilgrim tells us how he and his companions “discovered a monastery of women in those parts. near the source of ‘Ein ‘Avdat. It has two rooms. 2). ‘Ein ‘Avdat (map ref. measuring 4. A cross was carved in the rock. 1) This is one of the very few remains of a Byzantine hermitage in the Negev desert. apparently by the ancient monks (Phot.025) (Phot.

in Oboda (see below. 5). 29. Excavated in the flat face of the rock. a coenobium. forming a sort of balcony overlooking the impressive view (Phot. Tsafrir raises the slight possibility that the man named Zacharia who wrote the inscription in the cave could be the young man of the same name who was buried in the floor of the church of Saint Theodore (Negev 1981. 3 (Fig. Fig. 16. Meshel-Tsafrir. At the time of its use. Cave No. 3). 5): This cave has only one big room.30×5. FIGUERAS Fig.v. cave no. measuring 5. The fact that the south church of Oboda or ‘Avdat. Outside the entrance to the cave. Cave No. 2 (Fig. A short Greek inscription was found painted in red on the wall inside the cave.60 m. no. seems to link the small community of hermits living near ‘Ein ‘Avdat to the central monastery. was dedicated to that same saint. 11). 2). 2. s. a low bench was carved along the rock wall (Phot. some 5 km south of these caves.25×6. an invocation to Saint Theodore (Fig. 4 ‘Ein ‘Avdat. 4). access to the cave was made possible through a series .15 m. 6): This is a one-room cave situated 7 m above Cave no.).412 P. it measures 2. 1 (Meshel-Tsafrir.

11. and it measures 3.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 413 of small steps dug out of the rock. 4 (Fig. . Cave No. 2. Two flat surfaces inside the cave had been purposely cut into the rock to serve as storage devices. 2 (Meshel-Tsafrir. The excavators suggest that this cave was also used as kitchen (ibid. Its height reaches 1.75 m. no. p. 3). 6). Fig.50×1. Fig. However. 17). Inscription in cave. 2 (Meshel-Tsafrir. 7): It is situated 20 m north of Cave no. cave no. it is possible that the excavation of this cave was never completed. 5 ‘Ein ‘Avdat.70 m at its maximum. ill.

situated near the northern walls of the first. Fig.55-60). situated about 100 m south-east of the present cross-roads of the Hebron-Beersheva and Arad-Tel Aviv roads. The latter pointed out that no traces of a church were visible on the spot. Govrin (HA 1984. with an atrium on its west and some rooms around it (21×51 m) (Fig. 2). 9). this second complex could represent a monastery (Govrin 1992. no. map ref. 7 ‘Ein ‘Avdat. Fig. 3 (Meshel-Tsafrir. no.414 P. were noticed by the German traveler Seetzen in 1805. 6 ‘Ein ‘Avdat. 44*-45*. 58. 4). Fig. is a complex of rooms and courtsyards built of large flint stones (Fig. cave.077) These ruins. According to its publisher. 143. 5). Govrin 1992. The second one. 76. 8). 4 (Meshel-Tsafrir. . However. The first group includes a large basilica. 396-397) and again visited by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15). the British surveyors Conder and Kitchener (1883. Óorvat Óur (also Khir bet Óor a or Óaur a. cave. FIGUERAS Fig. evidence of two groups of Byzantine buildings has been reported in the recent archaeological survey conducted on the spot by Y.

plans of monastery and church complexes (Govrin 1991.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 415 Fig. 3). 8-9 58. Óorvat Óur. .

a fragmentary inscription found in Óorvat Karkur ‘Elit (186 . as in Ru˙eibeh. . FIGUERAS Óorvat Kuseife (map ref.26 Fig. 18 km west of present Arad. 31] and 42 [no. 39 [no.069).v. it would be another example of monastic churches situated in or very near to towns. 155. to the south of the first one (Mader 1918.082). 10) was served by a monastic community (Ovadiah 1970. s. 51). Should this be the case. Sobata and Oboda (below. So far there is no way to identify Óorvat Kuseife with one of the towns mentioned in the few literary sources referring to the Negev. though some scholars would like to identify it with the civil settlement of Malatha (Oppidum Malathis) (Avi-Yonah 1977. No archaeological proof can be adduced for the normally accepted identification of ancient Malatha with the site today called Tel Mal˙ata or Tel el-Mil˙ (map ref. 26.416 P. although this cannot be proved until real excavations are conducted on the spot. 78. Ovadiah who suggested that the northern church (Fig. plan of church complex (Ovadiah 1970. On the other hand.v. 34]). a church was reported there by Musil (1908. It was A. Malatha). As early as in 1901. which is still a matter of controversy. 7 km north of Beersheva.). 152. 10 Óorvat Kuseife. mentions a certain “Salamanos. Mader. s. 121). Pl. reported the presence of two other churches. 225). 18). who visited the spot in 1911/14. priest of Malath[a]” (Figueras 1985. situated on the road to Arad. represent a big settlement from the Byzantine period.073) These important ruins.

98. The rectangular structure (25×38 m) adjoining the church from the south apparently served as living-quarters. and a defense tower (8×8 m) from the north. this complex was probably a monastery. plan of church complex (Govrin 1991. already reported by the British survey more than a century ago (Conder . has been recently surveyed again by Y. 11 Óorvat So’ah.075) (Fig. 11) An architectural complex. Indeed. are elements that we find in better documented monasteries. is situated on the southern side of a hilltop covered with the ruins of ancient settlement. that I fully share. 148. the number of spacious rooms adjoining the church from the south. its situation on the edge of the village. In his opinion. This site. who also published its schematic plan. 1).97-99).MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 417 Fig. 409-410). . including a large Byzantine church (19×40 m). from the Negev as well as from other regions. Govrin on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (Govrin 1992. Óorvat So’a (Khirbet Sa’wa) (map ref. *67.Kitchener 1883.

The ruins are situated 5 south-east of today’s Dimona. 156. which are probably the oldest ones in the Negev (Negev 1974. . 400-404.. 96). he also excavated the two Byzantine churches.E. New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. 12) The ruins traditionally called Kurnub by the local Arabs were identified with the ancient town called Mampsis in Eusebius’ Onomasticum (8:8) in the fourth century and numerous sixth century sources such as the Madaba Map (Avi-Yonah 1944. Together with other parts of the town. Mamshit). In the second century C. 7) recorded that town as Maps. Negev. such as the city-walls and two big residential buildings. plan of ruins (Negev. on the eastern side of the Northern Negev. 124) and others (Shereshevski 1991. the Nessana Papyri (Kraemer 1958. Mamshit) (map ref.048) (Fig. FIGUERAS Mampsis (Kurnub. 12 Mampsis (Kurnub. Fig. 64-82). Although visited and surveyed by several scholars. the geographer Ptolemy (V. Mamshit). large scale excavations were not conducted in the site till 1965 by A. 1988.418 P. 21-22). 15.

a deacon. that could have. The purpose of such a stronghold in a Parish church. been the house of that same man (Negev 1974. Indeed. This so-called “Nilus Church. has a residential building attached behind it (Phot.). 14). He could be a priest. does not correspond to a modern one in the Greek Church. s. 13 Mampsis. as it certainly was. has a complex of several rooms on its western side and a tower at its north-western angle. This assumption could be confirmed by several crosses on its inner lintels. a clerk of lower rank. the inscription in question. in front of the sanctuary. Here also. could not be anything but the defense of a community of people living in and around it.” 27 Its publisher has translated these words by 27.). which also includes a baptistry chapel annexed to its southern wall. Meimaris (1986. 259-260) describes paramonarios’ duties as related to the custody and supervision of a church and church properties in the name of the local bishop. as well as the whole mosaic floor of the Nilus church at Mampsis (Mamshit . most probably a monastic community serving in that church. plan of the east church complex (Negev. or a simple monk. but this is better done by a Greek inscription on the church floor. Unfortunately.v. 5). 401). This title of paramonarios. . have recently (October 1994) been irreparably vandalised. 13). The western church (Fig. A similar case in the Negev is the southern church in Oboda (see below. this inscription mentions a certain “Abba (Greek: TON ABBA) [son] of Zenobios the paramonarios.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 419 The eastern church (Fig. frequent in ancient Church epigraphy. Fig.” from the name of its main donor. ibid.Kurnub). such a residence attached to the church may indicate that a monastic community used to live in it. This beautiful building. according to the excavator.

and thus also Musil in 1901. An opposite view was expressed by Woolley and Lawrence. a laura. 112. 6). ibid. 14 Mampsis. around which and on a lower level are living rooms. also in the Negev (Meimaris 1986. an open cistern and a well (Phot. and from this fact the present name Mitzpe Shivta. If my interpretation is correct. it is easier to consider the western church of Mampsis also as a church served by a monastic community.” basing their .” On his visit to the place in 1871. i. 71). mishrefe) upon Shivta.e. taking Abba as the name of Zenobios’ son.420 P.e. Mitzpe Shivta (Mishrefe) (map ref. who saw in it “undoubtedly a monastic establishment. very frequent in the monastic epigraphy of that time. i. Palmer identified it as a Roman fortress. “Abba (son) of Zenobios the warden” (Negev 1981. 235-239).). 6-7) Situated on the edge of a high hill facing an extensive plain. Superior of a monastery). Both translations are plausible. the ruins of the town of Sobata or Shivta (see below) appear on the horizon. natural caves. “the observation point (Arab. this site includes the ruins of an enclosure wall with a gate on the western side and a small chapel on the opposite side.036) (Phot. Six km to the east of the plain. but the presence of the article before the word ABBA seems to be an indication that the latter term is to be understood as the monastic title abbas (simply “Father” better than “abbot”. FIGUERAS Fig. plan of the west church complex (Negev.

Baumgarten on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities. Wiegand. 15 Mitzpe Shivta. as part of the general survey of the region (Segal 1986. .MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 421 Fig. 97-108). 99). in the middle of which were the ruins of a stone building measuring 12×14. It was found that the western gate on the wall (Fig. An archaeological survey of the ruins was conducted on the spot in 1979 by Y. Baumgarten did not find enough evidence in the structure of the building to determine its original function. who had visited the place in 1916. opinion on the local pottery sherds and the building systems (Woolley Lawrence 1914/15). also thought that it had been a monastery (Wiegand 1920). general plan of ruins (Baumgarten 1986. 15) gave entrance to a large open space.5 m. This building had been interpreted by Woolley and Lawrence as a guest-house or the residence of the Superior of the monastery.

partly built. The rooms. A similar interpretation was given by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15) to a small tower situated to the east of the chapel. who dates the site in a general way to the late Byzantine period on an archaeological basis. 570 by the anonymous Piacenza pilgrim. 17 Mizpe Shivta. FIGUERAS The chapel on the eastern side of the open space (Fig.” situated twenty miles from Elusa to the south. This room measures 11. 17). which can be seen on a lower level than the chapel around the edge of the natural platform.6×4.6. partly excavated into the rock (Fig.2×6. who called it “a fort. 16) includes a simple prayer hall measuring 18. . Fig. 87).0 m. “which provides something of a refuge for passers-by and gives food for hermits” (Wilkinson 1977. suggests seeing it as the desert inn described c. An arched structure facing east is probably a prayer cell (Phot. apparently built later than the original building. White and colored fragments of the plaster once covering the walls and the apse were found on the stone slabs of the pavement. Fig. Baumgarten. 101).422 P. plan of rockcut rooms (Baumgarten 1986. 16 Mitzpe Shivta. 101). plan of the chapel (Baumgarten 1986. 7). have been interpreted as hermits’ cells by Baumgarten (1986).9 m deep and a room annexed to its southern wall. the guest-house (xenodochium) of Saint George. with an apse on the east 1.

that monks lived in the area of Qadesh since the mid-fourth century (Hieron. carved into the limestone not far from the abundant source of ‘Ein El-Qudeirat.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 423 I agree with Baumgarten’s interpretation. 090-010) (Fig. his daughter and his servants. 28. We actually know from the Life of Hilarion written by Jerome. 25. and the tenor of the text indicates that the kind of person who wrote it was certainly a layman passer-by. the writer of the inscription was probably on his way to Mount Sinai. I hope to publish soon this interesting inscription. Hil. Indeed. 18) This is the name of a place near Qadesh Barne‘a. Vit.28 The reference to Saint George certainly indicates that that saint was the Patron of the place. 105-120). PL 23). 8).” It is a prayer written by a man who asks for himself. 19). starting with the words “Oh Lord. not a local monk. coincide with those of the sixth century Piacenza Pilgrim.. his wife. either as hermits in a laura or as members of a closed community. not only because the distance and the character of Mitzpe Shivta’s buildings (monastic and military). where a monastic cave was reported by the Dominican Father Abel (1903b). had been used by monks in the Byzantine period. The general shape and other details of this cave are similar to the monastic cells found in ‘Ein ‘Avdat (above) and many others in the Judean desert and elsewhere. It is to be observed that soldiers stationed around the same place where monks were living. today on the Egyptian side of the Israel-Egypt border in the central Negev. Mo’eile˙ (map ref.. even today the visitor can read. the God of Saint George. Some steps cut into the floor of the central room led to an unknown place. According to his description and sketch (Fig. at least along roads that were considered dangerous for private people to walk. is not a surprise in the Byzantine period. Like the Piacenza Pilgrim. incised on the base of a plastered arch-stone in one of the rooms partly excavated into the rock (Phot. and they all took a rest in that fort and monastery that “provided them something of a refuge” (Figueras 1995).. a rather long cursive inscription in Greek. . but also because it is confirmed by epigraphic evidence. as we read in Egeria’s records (Wilkinson 1971). accompanied by his family and servants. In all probability. this cave too. the cave included a central room that had entrances to another three small rooms. near which agriculture was certainly practiced in ancient times (Bruins 1986.

FIGUERAS Fig. Fig. 18 Map showing Wadi Mo’eile˙ and position of monastic cave (Abel 1903b).424 P. 1903a). 19 Monastic cave near Wadi Mo’eile˙ (Abel. .

This church. at that site (till then called by the Bedouins ‘Auja el Óafir) by the American Colt Expedition in 1935 (Colt 1962). 3. not only on the life of that town. many other data relevant to our subject were also collected in Nessana from two sources other than the papyri. St. 6 is the chapel of a small monastery. some 150 m south of the location of No. came to throw light.. 79). 1. with the names of St. on the acropolis. as will soon become evident. 4 or 5 or a different one. had been described by former visitors. He actually describes a basilica he saw on the same plain where those are found. we can be sure that churches no. 20) This town. 3. were excavated by the American expedition (Colt 1962). also recently excavated by the same expedition.E. by the present Israeli expedition (Urman 1990). among whom Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15). Pap. on the northern slope of the acropolis. No. Sergius and Bacchus (the north church) and No. 2. including Elusa and Birosaba. 097. a new archaeological dig has been taking place at Nessana under the direction of Dan Urman on behalf of Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Urman 1990). 4 and 5 correspond to a double church recently discovered and excavated in the plain. but also of all the Negev and its inhabitants in general at the edge of the Byzantine period and the first decades of Muslim occupation. Our list is as follows: No. Finally. St. 1. 1. namely the inscriptions. some of which were already found before the American expedition (Alt 1921). but was later destroyed because the Turks wanted to transform it into a guest-house. 15×10 m for the atrium) do not correspond to any of those other churches. Mary Mother of God (the south church). Sergius and Bacchus (Fig. For different reasons. However. Nos. and the architectural features revealed by the archaeological excavations. 3 and 6 were related to monks.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 425 Nessana (Nitzana. Indeed. used to bring offerings on the feast of the Patron Saints (Kraemer 1958. It is to be noted that. but the shape and measurements he gives (20×10 m for the church. ‘Auja el-Óafir) (map ref. No. the discovery of an archive of papyri from the sixth and seventh centuries C. towns and cities. is by far the best documented of all Byzantine settlements in the Negev. 3. in the plain.C. since 1987 till the present. to which people from numerous villages. 21). namely the one reported almost a century ago by Lagrange (1897). .031) (Fig. to which maybe another should be added. probably founded by the Nabateans in the second century B. Church no. because it is not clear whether he describes one of our churches no. was probably served by a community of monks. We can today speak of at least six churches having been built in Nessana in the Byzantine period. apparently the most sumptuous and probably the most important of the town.

8. A suggested solution is to consider those hegumenoi as having entered the monastic order only after they became widows.1. 147. see Meimaris 1986. nos. 45.29 In one of the papyri found 29. 239-246). 20 Map of Nessana ruins (Woolley-Lawrence 1914/15). 50. Pap. 46. 77. 12. 47. FIGUERAS Fig. . Its Superior is often referred to in papyri and inscriptions with the monastic title of hegoumenos (Kraemer 1958.426 P. even though at periods he was a married person.3. This apparent incongruency has been noticed by all those who have dealt with Nessana’s papyri and inscriptions.4.1.10. Colt 1962. 77.

A. 90. the remains of which were reported by early visitors and today unfortunately destroyed (above). 31. Indeed. there is an interesting graffito including a long list of eight saints. The list in question is as follows: “Saint Mark” “Saint Bliphimus” “Saint Manicus” “Saint Ambrose” “Saint Isidore” “Saint Nonius” “Saint Pamphilus” “Father Romanus” “Father Manalas” “Father Cyril” “Father Zenobius” “Father Chariton” “Father Samur” “Father Sabinus” “Father Germanus” “Our Mother Anna” “Our Mother Martha (lit. 151-152).(30) The term monachos.” no less than fifteen times. but also from the buildings surrounding it. with an Abbot of the same name.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 427 in a room annexed to this church. ibid. 236. and the title abba. 91. It has even been suggested to identify “Father Martyrios” of Mount Sinai. “monk. Pap. .61. The epigraphic evidence is also impressive. Besides the above said hegoumenos that occurs several times. some of them well-known Egyptian monks. The evidence on the monastic attachments of this church. One of these references is not to the monks of Nessana but to those of Mount Sinai. “monastery”30) of St. Superior of Mt. as the 30. 167). seven “Fathers” and three “Mothers” (Colt 1962. while others belonged to the western Church. 79. Pap.. pp.25. 1177. come particularly not only from the contents of an inscription. The list was possibly used as a sort of a calendar. pp. others who had been famous in Palestine. possibly himself a monk. Mone is actually a synonym for monasterion and other Greek terms meaning monastery. 38.23. others less. with whom the former apparently held current relations. 595 (ibid.31 Church no. who wrote it on the plastered voussoir stone.” occurs four times in the papyri (ibid. Mathra)” “Our Mother Pheste” This is not the right place to comment on this list. some very famous. 89. n.23. 31. Meimaris 1986.44). but it is obvious that monks and nuns.. Sergius” (Kraemer 1958.35. as suggested by its publishers (Colt.). Cf. 23). this church complex is called “the mone (that is. no. see inscription 78 in Colt 1962. were very familiar to Thaleleus. “Father. 3. the man from Nessana.D. no. 254 and 259. referred to in Pap. Sinai c.

as already suggested by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15). 1) (Colt 1962.428 P. .5×9 m) had a spacious atrium (12. The latter was probably a monastery. Sergius and Bacchus church and monastery (church no. and a room complex in the south. 21 Nessana. the church (17. LXIII). plan shows. plan and section of SS.5 m) to the west. Pl. FIGUERAS Fig.7×18. a rectangular hall in the north.

fifth indiction-year. so as to offer. we could come to the conclusion that one of them. 9).62).D. ex-assesor and monk. 79. This suggestion could be supported by the presence of the Greek word matronikia (“women quarters”?) in one of the Nessana papyri (Kraemer 1958. In the year 496. Its dedicatory text comes as a surprise in more than one aspect: “For the salvation of the donors Sergius. 79. with or without his sister and nephew. the 20th of month Gorpiaios” (September 7. Church No. but a monk that is legally able to dispose of his fortune.31. founded a monastery in Nessana on the occasion of their visit to the town. such a gift as the foundation of a monastery with its church.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 429 The Greek inscription on the mosaic floor of the church was already published by Huntington (1911) and reproduced by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15) and also by Kirk and Welles (Colt 1962). still unpublished. At least we can imagine that they all spent enough time in the town or surroundings as to see the completion and dedication of their rich foundation.E. The monastery seems to have been built according to a well-drafted and regular plan.34 The existence of monasteries of women in the 32. . A. Palut his sister. this complex of a small chapel surrounded by rooms and a square atrium with its cistern can only be interpreted as a coenobium or the premises of a small closed monastic community. I thank my colleague Dr. Pap. which actually only reads m[ ]. Its location is north of the complex of St. a monastery of women.29.33 Undoubtedly. Their presence there is explained by the pilgrim movement to Mount Sinai through the Negev desert (Figueras 1995). her son. probably the one referred to here.32 It is plausible to think that those people. 34. and member of the city council of the metropolis Emesa. 33. on the slope of the acropolis hill. The first person mentioned is now a monk. members of a rich family from the remote Syrian city of Emesa (today Homs). It could be that he himself. might be a nunnery. This is according to the Arabic or Elusa era. The huge well near the upper church is actually situated between both monastic complexes and could be used by both communities. 609). 6 (Phot. deacon. together with his sister and nephew. In the latter case. It should be observed that term is only a guess by the publishers of the corrupted text of Pap. Should one be allowed to speculate about this multiplication of monasteries in Nessana. after he retired from his lucrative job as a lawyer in Emesa. Ovadiah prefers to interpret it of the era of Gaza. and John. Sergius and Bacchus. the year would be 435 C. had decided to live permanently in Nessana. Dan Urman for kindly allowing me to make use of the photo and to report on his discovery.

35. and these were particularly linked to monastic institutions. On the other hand. but also on what would today be called “Christian tourism” (Figueras 1995b).D. In the north of Israel. See above. still holding their wax layer with some words scratched on it by a young student.. 73) actually arrived in the hands of that powerful person. Pap. 43-48). Dauphin. . the most important papyri were found in the premises of the monastery of St. monks involved in such social activities as organized education.35 Summarizing all the available data about Nessana in the last period of its existence from before and after the Muslim conquest. together with fragments of a Latin-Greek dictionary. which certainly included a boys-school as well. whose Head held the monastic title of hegoumenos. Not by chance. that occurred about A. see also Pap. who visited one of them near Elusa. Not by chance either. “A Byzantine Ecclesiastical Farm at Shlomi. A case in point for the Negev region is the wine-press near the north church of Sobata (see below. monk” (Kraemer 1958.35 and 91. it had usually been admitted by scholars that agriculture had been practiced by monks in Palestine in the Byzantine period. that is. 634. Pap. Basil of Cappadocia than to those of St. 1979. s. “A Monastery Farm from the Early Byzantine Period at Shlomi. 90. Hebrew.430 P. s.” in Tsafrir 1993. 36. Pachomius in Egypt or St.). As a matter of fact.61). The evidence comes from the papyri referring to the plot of land of a certain “Victor. Sergius (and Bacchus).2324. Chariton in the Judean desert. The letters addressed by the Muslim governor of Gaza to “the people of Nessana” (Kraemer 1958. Two interesting writing tablets were discovered there also.v.” Qadmoniot 12 (45). we obtain the general picture of a rich civil center in the Negev. Id. FIGUERAS Byzantine Negev is well attested to by the already quoted text of the Piacenza Pilgrim. 25-29. were found there. as the archaeological records show. evidence of organized and sophisticated agricultural activity by monks of the Byzantine period has also been discovered (C. 31. we would have in Nessana a kind of monasticism more akin to the ideals of St. son of the Very Honorable Sergius Aladias. such literary pages as those of the Latin poet Vergil. with a rather strong economy based not only on agriculture and trade. It is possible that even the civil administration was in the hands of the Church authorities. If this could be proved. not living a life only of prayer and contemplation but combined with some manual work.36 But here we have it written in a sixth century document. it is also very probable that monks from the Nessana area were involved in agricultural and commercial activities. Such interesting features in the archaeological records preserved in that Nessana monastery are better explained if we just consider it as being the cultural center of the town.v.

23).Vincent 1904). According to the results of more recent excavations.2. according to Stephen of Byzanz. Apparently in the fifth century (Negev 1974. its excavator. These names. but this is today much doubted. ‘Avdat) (map ref. who was considered to have been the founder of the town.022) (Fig.Savignac .37 Actually. 414).C. the first Christian inscription from the south church of Oboda dates from 550 and the last one from 617 (Negev 1981. [‘Avdat] 6). On the basis of coins and inscriptions. Pap. Negev. and probably following the construction of the huge fortress in the sixth century with its little chapel. 128.13). in which. the first (or north) church was built in the area of an ancient Nabatean temple on the acropolis. assumed that the entire town with its two churches were destroyed by the Muslims in 636 (Negev 1974. 22) The present ruins of ‘Avdat. ‘Abdeh. 10) and Eboda of the Nessana Papyri (Kramer 1958. 39. A. 37. the destruction of the town in the seventh century is probably to be assigned to an earthquake that took place in 631. represent the ancient town of Oboda of the Peutinger Map (Phot.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 431 Oboda (Eboda. . another (the south) church was built on the acropolis (Fig. 24).). situated in the central Negev on the Beersheva Eilat road (Fig. which the Arabs preserved under the form of ‘Abdeh (Jaussen . Later on. he was also buried. Fig. 403). 29 and 37). certainly correspond to that of the Nabatean king Obodas (39-9 B. 22 Map of Oboda (after ‘Eini 1986.

39. as was recognised by its excavators (Ovadiah 1970. 31). FIGUERAS Evidence of a monastic presence in Oboda comes from two sources. 24). The pithos was unfortunately smashed to pieces. Beside the already mentioned graffito on the so-called Saints’ Cave on the slope of the acropolis. has an epitaph of the pavement of the church calling it “Martyrium of St. no. the presbyter. This church (Fig. . this time written in cursive letters in red color on the shoulder of a very large pottery container. 235-236). and it refers to a certain “Father (Greek ABBAC) Kapito. another invocation to the same Saint was found in the south church inscribed on a fragment of chancel screen (Negev 1982. 30). graphic relation between Oboda and the monastic bly had an upper story. proba. surrounded by several rooms on three 23 Map of the ‘Avdat region. (son) of Erasinos. the title ABBAC was much used. restored. As said above (Mampsis).Fig. by monastic superiors (Meimaris 1986.432 P. A last hint to the relations between Oboda and the monastic world comes from another inscription. in basilical style (21×12. (Negev 1981. namely architecture and epigraphy. [‘Avdat] 5).” who died on September 22. 25).6 m) and having two chapels for the veneration of relics. 11).E.39 38. As already said. but it can today be seen.38 The almost square atrium (15×14 m) to the western side of the basilica. both from the south church. feature and the remains of a tower on the south-west corner of the same atrium seem to point to the presence of a monastic community. 31. 36-37). and it is quite natural to see it applied to a priest who could have been the Superior of the monastery in which he was buried. This caves of ‘Ein ‘Avdat (after ‘Eini 1986. One of the five epitaphs on the pavement of this church complex was found in the portico of the atrium. a pithos. 617 C. this could be the central coenobium to which the hermits from the laura of ‘Ein ‘Avdat (above) were connected. showing geoof its sides (Phot. next to the parking place. in the small restaurant at the foot of ‘Avdat. though not exclusively. Theodore” (Negev 1981. to the north and the south of the central apse.

plan of churches and monastery complex (Ovadiah [Levant 1]. Indeed. Theodosius. According to its publisher.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 433 Fig. To the deacon Germanus. 43-44).” and the text on it reads: “+ O Lord assist. The last two words are important. the geron or “old . 24 Oboda. (sent) by the geron Theodosius” (Negev 1981. it was “found in situ in the building to the west of the acropolis. 124).

and his daughter virgin”). who was certainly endowed with powerful administrative authority. there seems to be no connection between both places. Pl. FIGUERAS man”40 here referred to. at a certain period at least. was sent by a venerable monk by name Theodosius. 41. as archaeology does not support it.41 Ru˙eibeh (Re˙ovot ha-Negev) (map ref. Rosenthal-Hegginbottom).. 1979 and 1986 excavations were conducted at the site by T. Here in Genitive form. were honored with the same title. who founded the monastery till today called Mar Dosios. “Old Man” was a monastic honorary title given to cer- tain venerable monks (see Meimaris 1986. 16. In Oboda we also find a boy “who died unmarried” (eteleutesen agamos). Phot.. Concerning the presence of nuns in Oboda. near Bethlehem. already published by Alt (1921. One case is in Oboda (Negev 1981. according to the graffiti accompanying it (Negev 1981. among which there is a rough drawing of a saint soldier. we have no right to identify the two names. This would explain the crosses and other Christian symbols decorating some of the walls. Theodore. the sending of a big pithos. no. but one must admit that it would be a little strange that two monks of the same name living in Palestine about the same time. there is only a light hint in the epitaph. to a deacon in Oboda. probably full of oil or wine. gerontos. and not just to a woman that happened to die before she got married. Of course. another one in Elusa (Alt 1921. Tsafrir (partly in collaboration with R. koinobiarch or Father of all the monasteries of the Holy Land since 492. being only “17 years and seven months old” (Negev 1981. 1976. as other cases must certainly be interpreted. of a woman that was “virgin of God” (Greek: parthene [sic!] Theou). probably representing St. 29). could be the famous Saint Theodosius.434 P. Anyway. 108. 239). no. Such an epithet seems to me to refer to a consecrated virgin. 114). 37). who suggested identifying the place with 40. . In 1975. such as Barsanuphius (above.048) This Byzantine town of the Negev was known to all the visiting scholars of the last century and beginning of the present one. the house-caves that can be seen on the western slope of the acropolis were once inhabited by monks. who could be the economus or administrator of a monastic comunity in that remote town of the Negev. 44: “. 44: “the virgin Sosanna”). Birosaba). Despite the similarity of the Arabic name Ru˙eibeh to the town of Re˙ovot mentioned in the Bible (Gen 26:22). We cannot exclude the possibility that.

plan of north church and monastery (Tsafrir 1993). 295). 25 Ru˙eibeh. as its excavator has proved (Tsafrir 1988). 25). around the southern wall of the atrium. 294-302). the center. Its special feature.10 m. Tsafrir 1993. is situated some 100 m outside the built area of the town. a Byzantine toponym referred to in Papyrus 79 of Nessana (Kraemer 1958. The access to it was provided by a flight of steps on each side. the east and the south. the excava- . is certainly a monastery church. the north church. though not entirely. apparently for the veneration of some important relics. but the presence of a monastery has not been supported by the excavations (Tsafrir 1993. one of the pilgrim routes finally leading to Mount Sinai (Figueras 1995b. Assistance to pilgrims in this particular church was assured by the presence of monks. On the other hand. and it measures 24.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 435 Fig. Bertheiba. Four churches were discovered in the town.3 m was discovered below the presbytery and the nave. map). in the north-west.4×4. which most probably is explained by the fact that Ru˙eibeh lay on the road connecting Elusa with Nessana.80×13. This church. The one in the center had been described by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15) as being attached to a monastery and a khan. The existence of this crypt is evidence of the frequency of visitors to the town and the church. an interesting crypt measuring 3. which has also been excavated. Indeed. a threeabsidal basilica (Fig.

300). It must be pointed out that the inscriptions found so far in Ru˙eibeh do not confirm the presence of monks in the town. as was the case in the north church of Sobata (here below).436 P. Sobata (Sobota. particularly a long and spacious one containing a long narrow table. A good plan of Sobota was produced by Woolley and Lawrence in 1914/15.. . Rosenthal in 1978 (RosenthalHegginbottom 1982). but no reports were published then either. being as it is remote from the normal trade routes (see Fig. plan of the town showing The monastic presence in south. 114. Musil in 1901. 1). among them Palmer in 1870. Fig. Sbeita. Shivta) (map ref. Its location may owe more to agricultural than to commercial criteria. central and north churches and surSobata is an established fact. The American-British Colt expedition worked on the spot in 1934-36. but the results of this excavation were never published.032) (Fig. rounding buildings (after ‘Eini 1986. 26) This town was probably built by the Nabateans towards the first century C. [Shivta] 6). Its impressive ruins called the attention of many visitors. and Jaussen. that was interpreted as the dining-room of the monastery (Tsafrir 1993. Then it was the turn of Avi-Yonah and Negev in 1958-60. A cistern in the middle of the courtyard collected rain water from the roofs of church and monastery for the maintenance of its dwellers. 26 Sobata. FIGUERAS tions cleared some rooms. The north church was again surveyed and studied by Negev and R. who discovered the three churches and a number of inscriptions. and survived the Muslim conquest up to the eighth or ninth century. It is not clear whether these rooms and those probably existing in the unexcavated area on the northern side of the atrium had an upper story.E. in 1905. Savignac and Vincent.

As Shereshevski (1991.Lawrence 1914/15). this was the only church in Sobata “built on the periphery of the site. without the . north church and monastery complex (Woolley .MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 437 Fig. were monastic churches. North church (Fig. as will hopefully be shown in the following report on the three churches. 27 Sobata. and not only the north one. 75) points out. It is indeed very possible that all three. 27). supported by epigraphy as well as by architectural criteria.

Plan 4). which might have served the monk responsible for the reception of guests and pilgrims. 1982. 554.. The rooms around the atrium include a long hall to the west (probably a dining room). monk and priest” (Negev 1981. Attached to Fig. The northern gallery of the atrium is paved with mosaic. all covered with arches which once supported an upper story. led most scholars to accept that it had been built to be a monastery.438 P. 232) have no supporting evidence. Yet it is interesting to realize that. 12). one can see a high stone-bed (Phot. there is probably no relation between this Arsenius and another apparently famous monk of the same name who had his monastery within the jurisdictional area of the bishop of Aila (Palmer 1871. a chapel attached to the southern wall of the basilica. Epigraphy seems to strengthen the monastic character of this church. and a flight of steps led to its roof. As pointed out above (Aila). Other speculations. isometric reconstruction of the eastern wall of the atriun north church and monastery (RosenthalHegginbottom. such as the interpretation of the small square in the middle of the atrium as being the basis of a column. a tomb in the baptistry is that of “thrice-blessed Arsenius (son) of Abraamios. 22). and smaller rooms to the south. and close to its southern entrance. .” It is a whole complex of buildings. standing up to a height of 5 meters). Indeed. 56-57). his memory is praised with such solemn expressions as “laid in Christ. thrice-blessed Arsenius. monk and priest. and a baptistry chapel to its south. 630 42. 28 Sobata. resting among saints. including a three-absidal basilica facing east (19×12 m). Many details of the building around the atrium. a memorial to a holy monk who had once been lived as stylite in the neighborhood of Sobata (RosenthalHiggenbottom 1981. reinforced walls. today collapsed (except for its outer. a spacious atrium surrounded by rooms in the west (Fig. which was the floor of the second story.. in the epitaph of our monk Arsenius of Sobata. 28). FIGUERAS constraints or limitations of a built-up area surrounding it.” who died on the 4th of January.

but its sumptuous entrance. This is especially true of the wine press that.43 Outside the church. We have already seen that this identification is no more probable. in the course of time. and the transformation of the initial pastophoria or side-rooms into relic chapels (Margalit 1987). it had been transformed into one. contrary to usual. It is frequent in the monastic literature to see monks having sons. The existence of towers. as they were visited by pilgrims on their way to or from Mount Sinai (Figueras 1995).42 Another one in the atrium of the church is that of a son of Abbot Themos. see Mayerson 1963. it has been speculated by some to be the xenodochium or “inn of Saint George” mentioned by the Piacenza Pilgrim. built 43. who was living with him in a hermitage. All scholars agree that this is the most recent of the three churches of the town. Abba is a title mostly applied to monks.45 Central church (Fig. a monastery. (Negev 1981. A previously existing cistern has its mouth inside the church. has no compartments around the threshing pavement. As for the north church of Sobata.44 If this was true. a series of workshops have been interpreted as belonging to the local monastic community (Segal 1986). the riches of its internal decorations. as we realized in the case of the hegoumenoi at Nessana (above.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 439 C. Indeed. judging by the presence of the baptistry. . 17×14 m). 52-52). George” in Mitzpe Shivta (above). These were characteristics of the pilgrim churches. 45. seems to indicate that. 44. who died on the 1st of April. so as to receive the right payment or the appropriate quantity of wine produced. we would have a community of monks that were partly engaged in agriculture and partly in the service of the Christian pilgrims and visitors. The latter is immediately connected to a complex of spacious buildings built around three small courtyards on its southern and eastern sides. who were certainly frequent in this church. It is a three-absidal basilica (c. after the discovery of the invocation to the “God of St.v. I would rather call the complex a community building. Another well-known case is that of Nilus. Perhaps it had not been built with this purpose. was once abducted by a group of Saracens and sold in the market of Sobata (PG 79. probably when the church was built.” only because it includes a high square tower (Segal 1986). s. with Christian symbols decorating the lintel of the main gate (Phot.). and so we have to interpret many of the churches in the Byzantine Negev. built when the street in front of it was already in existence. [Har ha-negev] 13) apparently to allow a previous inspection of the weight and quality of the grapes brought by each family to the common press.E. in all the other wine-presses in the Negev there are compartments around the threading area (‘Eini 1986. 674-683. 13). 644 C. One of them is currently called “the Governor’s House. the monk of Sinai whose young son Theodulos. 161). That previous inspection was purposeless if the grapes to be pressed were brought from vineyards belonging to one and the same community. 29).E. and a three-arched porch connects the two.

70). 61). Indeed. 30). and maybe around the central church too. Knowing the use that is commonly referred only to Augustin of Hippo in North Africa. an invocation to St. A single Parish priest with his family would certainly not need such a house. 46. 5). 1389-90). the holy bishop of Rhinocorura (today’s El-‘Arish) in North Sinai (Sozomen. 7-9). where monks and nuns took shelter during the attack by the Pelagians. Actually. V. fruit of the spontaneous initiative of inspired people. the scholar has the right to suggest the intepretation of certain archaeological remains along the same line.30 m) is probably the oldest of the three churches. South church (Fig. was published with relation to this church (Negev 1981. Its only dated inscription. 15. no. this church was very probably dedicated to St.D. we must be allowed to imagine a group of clergy living together in community of goods and sitting at the same table. 62. 4. Stephen. Fig.47 could have been imitated in other towns as well. no. Church History V. Also here the epigraphy does not help to see any connection with monks.46 No epigraphic evidence for the presence of monks in this central church has been preserved. According to a graffito detected on a wall at its entrance attesting to the frequent visits by pilgrims (Figueras 1994. FIGUERAS as shelters for the community in case of danger. besides the very well-known example of Augustin’s clergy. being the commemoration of a new paving of the church under Bishop George and the Archdeacon and economus Peter (Negev 1981. possibly the origin of the whole urban center of Sobata. PG 67. is from A. even if there is no literary or epigraphic evidence for it. On the basis of that historical reality. Church History. such as Sobata. 47.440 P. 15. A case in point in Palestinian monasticism is the tower in the monastery built by Jerome and Paula in Bethlehem towards the end of the fourth century. two other cases are known of the same kind of phaenomenon. only a short inscription on a abacus of stone capital. however. the other much nearer to our region. in PG 67. apparently. The text of Sozomenos concerning Rhinocolura towards the end of the fourth century is convincing: “The clergy of this church dwell in one house. I. the case of Melas. rather than a community of monks of the traditional kind. Epist 63. However. it is possible that here. in the fifth century. These examples. Stephen. the architecture of the mansion attached to the northern side of the church seems to demand here also the presence of a small community of church personnel. 639. 1389-90 . one around bishop Eusebius of Vercelli (Ambrosius. sit at the same table. Situated to the east of the open pull of the town. is well known in ancient monastic architecture. this basilica (19×14. and have everything in common” (Sozomenos.

30 Sobata. 97). central church and monastery complex (Negev 1988. . Fig. 29 Sobata. south church and monastic complex (‘Eini 1986.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 441 Fig. [Shivta] 10).

the monks would hold the boys-schools and thus maintain the cultural level of the civil community. acknowledging to a certain “Abbot John. Peter has blessed us. lector. those of the north church).”48 48. Relatively small communities of clergy and/or monks lived around Parish churches. . linked it with a special veneration to St. no.442 P. 33. to the discovery of this unusual Greek text which I copied myself in situ. 34). Except for the “House of Peter” in Capernaum. is seen performing compulsory public duty. today a member of the Israel Antiquities Authority. because he was not a priest. I will refer to an ostrakon found by the American expedition in the ruins of Sobata (Meimaris 1986. we realise that here the title “abbot” (lit. 1981. Apart from the interesting fact that a member of the clergy. monastic life was of a different kind than those of the desert coenobia and laurae so typical of the Judean desert and existing also in some points of the Negev. a courtyard and several rooms (Phot. and I. 148. as in most other cases in the Negev. no other church or chapel seems to have been dedicated to the memory of the Apostle Peter in ancient Palestine. I take this opportunity to thank Mr. when he was still my student.52. Beit-Arieh (HA 1979. for having called my attention. as in Nessana. son of Victor.071) (Phot. but it includes a small chapel. 1267). Summarizing the hints of the monks’ presence in Sobata. though not exclusively. 14).” for having performed nine parts of his duty in cleaning the cistern. in dat. in the fragmentary mosaics at the entrance of the chapel. Sergius in Nessana (Pap. let us remember that here. 253. presbyter of Sobata. Also in Sobata. The site was first surveyed by D. today irreparably damaged. 14) The ruins of a Byzantine monastery were discovered upon the ruins of an Israelite fortress in this remote site of the north-east Negev desert. Nimrod Negev. 105). An inscription. even though agriculture certainly occupied some of the monks. but there was one in Rihab. although the low clergy. Biran. ab[b]a. 189). dedicated to the spiritual service of their flocks and also of the numerous pilgrims who attracted by famous relics and shrines (particularly. More problematic is the reference to a certain “Abba Victor.” who appears among ten other contributors in an account of donations to the monastery of St. Our God. FIGUERAS As a complement to the review of epigraphic and archaeological hints to the presence of monks in Sobata. 79. in Transjordan (Meimaris 1986. Tel ‘Ira (map ref. The plan of the monastery has never been published. Peter: “Our God has blessed us.) cannot but be monastic. Meimaris 1986. Alon in 1979 and was successively and/or contemporaneously excavated in several seasons by A.

On an angle of the same courtyard is a burial crypt with several burial places for more than one body. The Muslims would apparently have been much more generous and large than the local Christian authorities. 158ff).MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 443 The presence of a monastery in such a remote place is a good indication of the kind of life they were pursuing. The chapel has a rectangular apse. As a result. Aharoni in the sixties. it is not thinkable that during the rigid Orthodox Byzantine regime. it was said. Hyrcania). courtyard and crypt as a monastery is not a matter of doubt. on whose stones some graffiti written in Syriac were reported. a whole theory was formed regarding the foundation date of the building. All the necessary elements for the life and maintenance of a monastic community are there. The monastery ruins consisted of a building centered around a courtyard (Figs.069) (Fig. To his mind. and there was plenty water in the old cisterns. and particularly by the publisher of Syriac graffiti. those graffiti had been written not in Palestinian Syriac characters. The same had occurred in some of the Herodian palaces in Palestine (Massada. The only doubtful thing about this place is the interpretation given to it by the excavators. Tel Masos monastery was also established close to the ruins of an ancient Israelite city. as the ruins furnished good stone for the building. An Israelite city and Byzantine monastery were later excavated in 1972-1975 by a German-Israeli expedition. This city lay on the banks of Nahal Beersheva. and it was preceded in the same site by other settlements since the Chalcolithic period. whose identification is not yet definitely solved. which should not be dated to the late Byzantine but to the ‘Ummayad period. rooms. The identification of this complex of chapel. the so-called Nestorian writing. as in many of the ancient temples in Egypt. Herodion. as they . 31) In a way similar to Tel ‘Ira. 140. and the results were properly published in an extensive two-volume report (FritzKempinski 1983). but in north Syrian script. Tel Masos (Khirbet el Meshash) (map ref. What one can say about this theory is that the presence of some unclear graffiti in Nestorian script (not even Nestorian in contents. p. The fact that it had been established upon and among the ruins of an ancient city is not surprising. certainly very similar to most of the monasteries in the Judean desert.. a Nestorian monastery would have been allowed to be founded in Palestinian lands. Indeed. the late Paul Maiberger (ibid. 32 and 33). The site was discovered by the Israeli survey headed by the late Y.

444 P. FIGUERAS Fig. . 31 Tel Masos. plan of monastery (Fritz-Kempinski 1983).

in the moment when all the Christian settlements till then flourishing with their churches and institutions. Fritz. 34) This site lies some 20 km east of Beersheva. Tel Yeshua’ (Tel es-Sawa) (map ref. as it is claimed. The recent survey seems also to confirm this view 49. This is the authorized opinion of Prof. suggested isometric reconstruction of chapel and monastery (Fritz-Kempinski 1983). On the tel. 149. such as pottery. are there.076) (Fig. excavator of the site and today director of the German Archaeological Institute in Jerusalem. were being abandoned. as expressed to the present writer in private communication. include only personal names and doubtful words) is certainly not enough to establish a dating. and has been identified with a place where a group of Jews settled on their return from the Babilonian exile (Neh 11:26).MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 445 Fig. dismantled and inconsiderately destroyed all over the Negev.49 One must accept that. V. the ruins of a square building were interpreted by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15) without doubt as a monastery. in such a remote place as Tel Masos. and then occupied for about one century. All the criteria normally taken into consideration for dating the building as Byzantine. . on the road to Arad. it is almost inconceivable that a new monastery was planned and built. 32-33 Tel Masos.

446 P. (Govrin 1992. 2). 89. FIGUERAS Fig. 88-89. was paved with white mosaic. plan of the site (Govrin 1991. 34 Tel Yeshu’a.*61). . which had one apse only. It had a church on its northern side and a room complex on the south. The church.

) Óorvat Bodeda (arch. and it is difficult to verify the truth. Monastery near town: Nessana. evid. ?) Óorvat So’a (arch. Rather. Monastic or clergy communities around churches in towns: . who see in them a round Herodian tower among other buildings that were in use during the Roman and Byzantine period. ?) Elusa region (nuns) (lit.) Tel Masos (arch. If Woolley and Lawrence saw the church. 6 (nunnery ?) (arch.) Elusa (lit. nothing stands against their interpretation. ?) Óorvat Kuseife (arch. 2.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 447 It must be said that this interpretation of the ruins from the Byzantine period has not been accepted by more recent archaeologists. + lit. The Herodian tower could easily have been included in the monastic complex. Excavations have not been conducted at the site. 4. it is superfluous to point out that there is archaeological as well as written evidence of the existence of monks and monasteries in the Byzantine Negev. Isolated monasteries: Aila region (lit. ?) Tel ‘Ira (arch.) 6.) Mitzpe Shivta (arch. 3. ?) 5.) Hermit’s cave: Wadi Mo’eile˙ (archaeological evidence) Laurae: ‘Ein ‘Avdat (arch. I would like to offer the results of this schematic research in a systematic and practical way. the other part could serve as dwellings to a group of monks. Monks in Third Palestine in general (literary evidence) Monasteries in Third Palestine in general (lit. gathering in a general way the existing data under some significant headings: 1. whose remains could later have been destroyed and dismantled. such as Mitzpe Shivta (above). Summary Trying now to compare the results obtained with the purposes we had set to us at the start of this study. + papyri ?) 7.) Tel Yeshua’ (arch. as happened in other places. church no. Even if part of the building was used as a fort.

.) Despite the difficulties of interpretation of some of these data.) “Hegumenos” in Nessana (epigr.) Ru˙eibeh. 1 (arch. Tel Masos).). Some of them were active in agriculture (Nessana. There was a small monastery of poor nuns living on charity in the middle of the desert (Elusa).) “Our Mother” in Nessana (epigr.448 P.).).) “Old Man” (geron) in Oboda (epigr. others were totally involved in the social life of the communities (Nessana). Terms: “Monastery” (mone) in Nessana (pap. ?) Mampsis. + epigr. Sobata). Sobata (epigr. + papyri) “Abbas” in Birosaba (lit.). FIGUERAS Birosaba (arch. others had been rich members of famous city-councils (Nessana). others took care of the pilgrims and passers-by (Nessana. north church (arch. If some of them lived in absolute separation from secular affairs (‘Ein ‘Avdat. Oboda (epigr.) Oboda. Mitzpe Shivta. Some lived in remote cenobitic monasteries (Tel ‘Ira.) “Virgin of God” in Oboda (epigr. western church (arch. others in communities around the church parishes (Sobata. + epigr.) Sobata.) “Monastery of women” (matronikia ?) in Nessana (pap.) Sobata.+ pap. Ru˙eibeh.) “Laura” in Elusa (lit. Nessana (epigr. church no. Mampsis (epigr.) “Monk” (monachos) in Nessana (pap. Oboda).). south church (arch. church no. + papyri) Nessana. Sobata (epigr.) “Solitary” (hesychastes) in Elusa (lit. north church (arch. 3 (arch.) 8. They were in great part responsible. Among their rangs there were writers of renown (Elusa). + epigraphy ?) Nessana.) “Archimandrites” in Third Palestine in general (lit. + epigr. Elusa (lit. Sobata).) “Monastery of women” in Elusa region (lit. but another monastery had become well-known because a great monk had lived there (Aila).). there is no doubt that. not only for the Christianization of the local population (Elusa). but also for its religious and cultural education (Nessana). + epigr. Mo’eile˙). central church (arch. also the Negev desert was heavily populated by monks during the Christian centuries. + lit.) Sobata. south church (arch.

” Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas (Madrid). Jaeger (ed. 1911. 135-162. “La grotte de Moueileh. “Monasteries of the Judean Desert in the Byzantine Period. pp..L. (ed. Pau Figueras Ben Gurion University of the Negev Bibliographic References Abel F. 1966a (ed. Govrin Y. Christianity in the Holy Land (Studia Oecumenica Hierosolymitana. Barsanuphius and John . 1972. Festugière A. Palestine and Its Transformations. 425. Bonn. Figueras P. Excavations at Nessana. 1-90. 1-3. Figueras P.-M. London (reprint 1983). 1985. Figueras P. III. 1984. London. “New Inscriptions from the South” (in press). 16.” in Tsafrir 1993. Bagatti. Nijkerk. Oxford. Paris.) 1944. . Govrin Y. Fritz V. with map. 1986. Jerusalem.-M. “Mitzpe Shivta. 97-108 (Hebrew).MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 449 Let us finally remember that this monasticism. 600-602. 1993. “Arqueología cristiana en el desierto del Neguev. B. 147-168.C. Burkhardt J. M.-J.” RB 12. . Desert Environment and Agriculture in the Central Negev and KadeshBarnea During Historical Times. Wiesbaden. 1). Jerusalem. Bruins H. 2). with map. vol.). Avi-Yonah. Avi-Yona M. Corbo.” Estudios Bíblicos (Madrid) 45.” Qadmoniot 22 (87-88) 58-87 (Hebrew). The Desert a City. 445-617. 1989.).” in Acts of the XII International Congress of Christian Archaeology.” in Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land. “Exploration in Eastern Palestine. “Three Dedicatory Inscriptions from the Beersheva Region. 1. 1822. 149-154. Essays in Honor of V. Chitty D. 1990. 1966b. 1977. Hadashot Arkheologiyot (1984) 76. Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen auf Hirbet al-Msas .J. Hirschfeld I. Chitty D.Tel Masos 1972-1975. The Madaba Map.J. “List of the Byzantine Monasteries in the Judean Desert. Boston. figs. 1939. 1-3. 207-247. Travels in Syria and the Holy Land.” LA 36. Jerusalem. Hirschfeld I. Jerusalem. Jerusalem. 1982.” in Segal 1986. Figueras P. Jerusalem. “Inscriptions grècques de Bersabée. Figueras P.” AASOR 18-19. 1986. “The Christian History of the Negev and Northern Sinai. Map of Nahal Yattir (139). 1981. The Church of the Gentiles in Palestine. Beersheva. till today unfairly ignored by Church historians. 1986. map. 1995b. was well known to the Church of the sixth century.) 1962. Abel F. 1962/63. Les Moines d’Orient. vol. pp. Glueck N. Figs. Figueras P. Hirschfeld I.D. Huntington E. 1983. Colt H. (ed. “Pilgrims to Sinai in the Byzantine Negev. 1903b. 1903a. Figueras P. with map (in press).J. which invited some of its representatives to attend the ecumenical council at Constantinople in 536. 1995a. Byzantine Inscriptions from Beer-sheva and the Negev (Negev Museum Publ. Paris.” in D. 1987. 1991. Baumgarten Y. 2 vols.Kempinski A. An Introduction to the Study of Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism under the Christian Empire. No.A.. Gazetteer of Roman Palestine.Questions and Answers (PO XXX/3). 265276.” RB 12. “Beersheva in the Roman-Byzantine Period. “Monasteries and Churches in the Judean Desert in the Byzantine Period.

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