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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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P. FIGUERAS

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

Today its is currently assumed that Yotabe or Jotabe should be looked for at today’s Straights of Tiran. Spiritual Prairie. one of the Negev towns. by God’s mercy priest and monk. 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. 51. but it could only be within the jurisdictional radius of Aila’s bishopric. by God’s mercy deacon and monk. the importance of Aila as a monastic center. 51. adds an interesting note referring to the bishopric of Aila. 248).15 The only ruins to be seen today on that island are those of a medieval Arab castle. 62-66.17 but this only confirms. 17. among the names of the clergy signing the council’s decisions. wrongly taken by some as ancient Yotabe. PG 87. and in the name of the monks of Augustopolis of the Third Palestine” (Schwartz 1940. 18. 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. 93). There. but also that they were of orthodox denomination and sufficiently organised as to send a representative to the council. ch. without diminishing it. . and thus nearer to Aila but still too far. 536 against Anthimus. It is true that the monasteries of other cities of the Third Palestine sent delegates to the council too. We do not know today where that monastery was situated. 33 [35]). Indeed.16 This reference is an important evidence to the fact that. monk and priest” was discovered on the floor of the baptistry chapel in the north church (see below. 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. 71-442). 15. FIGUERAS present Coral Island..” and where “abbot Stephen” was the priest (John Moschus.” who signs “in the name of all the monks of Aila in the Third Palestine” (Schwartz 1940. 22). 16. A much later source. 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.18 There is a possibility that it was situated around Mount Sinai. 40. certainly not far from that city. 37. 25. 29) and “the monks of the monasteries of the three Palestines” (ibid.D.406 P. the so-called Notitia Graeca Episcopatuum. Thus we not only have twice the signature of “Elias. 554. but also the mention of “all archimandrites and monks in the third Palestine” (ibid. recently excavated and partly restored by the Egyptian authorities. saying: “It has under it the monastery of Great Arsenius” (Palmer 1872. Sobata). the tomb of a “triceblessed Arsenius. In Sobata.. near the southern entrance to the Gulf of ‘Aqaba or Eilat. 134). we find a certain “John. a well-instructed noble man who embraced monastic life in the Egyptian desert in the fourth century. not only were there monks in the region. of whom many edifying anecdotes are told.

98. such as Robinson (1838). 1884. Musil (1907). Abel (1903b).22 Byzantine ruins on the spot were later acknowledged by a number of western scholars. map ref. Early Travels in Palestine. de Sudheim. There is not only the fact that Stephen. De itinere Terre Sancte (ed. Archaeological evidence includes the imposing remains of churches. Wright. 54). “a very big village. 67). 257. Neumann. . 50f). who writes some fifty years after Jerome and uses his Latin translation of the Onomasticum. 21. 130. Birosaba (Beersheva.D. This source refers to the town as kome megiste.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 407 Relations between the monks of Mt. Pieces of major historical interest among these occasional finds were the fragmentary inscriptions today known as “Imperial Decree of Beersheva” (Alt 1921.23 When the present town of Beersheva was planned by the Ottoman government and the building activity started at the turn of the century. i.. was from Aila. and 3) the geographic mosaic pavement from Madaba21 in the sixth. Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15). 20. to have existed on the same place in the Byzantine period. Sinai and the people of Aila are also known from other sources. G. p. possibly to be identified with biblical Beersheva despite other more generalised views. 1322-1365 (ed. bishop of Lyons. according to the inscription on one of the roof beams (Sevøenko 1966. and L. Anastasius. 4-25). 23. 71). 1338. Pseudo-Eucherius. p. the builder of the Sinai basilica about the mid-sixth century. New York. 2) the records of pseudo-bishop Eucherius20 in the fifth. situated twenty miles south of Hebron” (Wilkinson 1977. T. Archives de l’Orient Chrétien. Paris. 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. C. only a small number of fortuitous 19.” in which “a fortress (phrourion) of soldiers” (Jerome: “praesidium militum Romanorum”) is situated (Klostermann 1904. To the first group belongs: 1) Eusebius’ Onomasticum19 in the fourth century. a monk from Sinai. is known from different sources. A. A. 22. whose existence has been recorded since the Middle Ages. reports on the visit paid by bishop Sergius of Aila to Abbot Orentius of Sinai at his deathbed (Nau 1902. dealing with the regulation of civil payments to the Roman army. “a very big village.D. 262). footnote 9).e. n. But a century later. Thus Sir John de Maundeville. Seetzen (1855). 1968. calls Berosaba vicus maximus.072) This city. literary as well as epigraphic and archaeological. Avi-Yonah 1954. 348). 160). Other inscriptions have more recently been discovered and only partially published (see above.

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

pl. Peter Fabian. possibly indicates that John had been the Superior of a monastery in his native town of Beersheva before joining the monastery of Seridos. one of two famous recluse monks in Seridos’ monastery. with a picture of the mosaic found. apparently fortified with city walls and towers (Avi-Yonah 1944. to address the Superior of a monastery. In the course of 1991. 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). however.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 409 in 1948 and excavated in 1967 by Y. which is indicated in the Peutinger map on the Jerusalem-Aila road. See a short report of the dig. generally. the premises of a monastic community. we may adduce the correspondence of Barsanuphius. 10. north-east of the old city. Elusa (El Khalassa. p. by the humility with which he approached his spiritual father asking for counsel. but a Greek epitaph found there in secondary use is presently being published (Ustinova Figueras 1995). . It was situated at the present crossing of the Eli Cohen street and Presidents’ Avenue. map ref. on the southern bank of Nahal or Wadi Beersheva. no. conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority under the direction of Mr. We also learn from the letters that he had an impatient character. though not exclusively. in the sixth century. 6). are situ- 25.25 As written evidence of a monastic presence in Birosaba. in Yedi‘ot A˙aronot 31 July 1994. used in that period. as today. Óalutza.056) The ruins of the ancient city of Elusa. Israeli (1967). or at least had been appointed supervisor of the building activity in the monastery. and the foundations of a huge cruciform church have been exposed. From his letters to Barsanuphius it becomes evident that he was an expert in building. “Father. 103. between Gaza and Maiumas. a residential complex from the Byzantine period was discovered and partially excavated in the south of the present city. The fact that this monk is called by the honorary title of aba. at least for a time. The doubtless Christian character of the rather sumptuous building allows us to think that it could have been. 117. no official report of this discovery has seen light. So far. and which has now totally disappeared. New excavations in Beersheva are taking place these very days to the east of the Municipal Market. and in the Madaba Map as a big town.” or “abbot”. that was compensated.

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

tame from the time it was a cub” (ibid. actually the only real city. “She bore it with courage. 87). 1) This is one of the very few remains of a Byzantine hermitage in the Negev desert. The same pilgrim tells us how he and his companions “discovered a monastery of women in those parts. “and they used to give food to a lion. and within a week she had set all his slaves free. ‘Ein ‘Avdat (map ref.).” in the Dead Sea region (Wilkinson 1977.” They had a donkey at their service. Here we have a small group of four caves.. These four caves were examined during the survey conducted on the spot by Z.5 m respectively.Tsafrir s. A third and more explicit source from the same period are the records of the so-called Piacenza Pilgrim. 85). Paul must have deserved such name after a long stay in one of the monasteries of the most important city. more than sixteen or seventeen of them who were in a desert place. partly excavated artificially in the soft limestone rock of the northern wall of Nahal Tzin. whose husband had died on the very night of the wedding. Meshel and Y. apparently by the ancient monks (Phot. who visited the place about 570 A. and given food by the Christians. 60 m above the bed of the wadi and 40 m under the the top of the precipice. Both the location and the shape of the cave are typical of the Byzantine hermitages in Palestine. and given away all his property to the poor and to monasteries. These are for the moment the scarce data that can be collected from the sources.” She then disappeared from the city. Access to the caves is by narrow steps carved into the rock. It has two rooms. on Elusa see also Mayerson 1983). Tsafrir on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities in the seventies (Meshel .6×1.5×4. and was seen living as a wandering hermit “in the desert across the Jordan. 4): This is a natural cave that was adapted as living premises. Cave No.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 411 rusalem. near the source of ‘Ein ‘Avdat. 2). 1 (Fig.a. The bishop of the city told him about a young lady called Mary. A cross was carved in the rock.D. of the Byzantine Negev. a better picture will be reached of the monastic presence in and around the most important of the cities of the central Negev.025) (Phot. There is no doubt that. 128.8 m and 1. above the niche on the wall that was probably used as a cupboard. in contrast with the numerous laurae that are found in narrow canyons or wadis of the Judean desert. . if a proper excavations program is once enterprised in the ruins of ancient Elusa. near the main entrance to the cave. and See of the only bishop of the central Negev (Figueras 1981. 153. measuring 4.

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

5 ‘Ein ‘Avdat. 2. Fig. 17). 2 (Meshel-Tsafrir. However. 4 (Fig. no. Inscription in cave.70 m at its maximum.75 m. Its height reaches 1. 11. 7): It is situated 20 m north of Cave no. Fig. Two flat surfaces inside the cave had been purposely cut into the rock to serve as storage devices. cave no. Cave No. ill. . p. and it measures 3. The excavators suggest that this cave was also used as kitchen (ibid. 2 (Meshel-Tsafrir.50×1. it is possible that the excavation of this cave was never completed. 3). 6).MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 413 of small steps dug out of the rock.

Govrin 1992.414 P. Fig. Fig. 143. . 396-397) and again visited by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15). 9). 8). no. 3 (Meshel-Tsafrir. However. 6 ‘Ein ‘Avdat. cave. 58. 4 (Meshel-Tsafrir. map ref. FIGUERAS Fig. 76.55-60). were noticed by the German traveler Seetzen in 1805. cave. the British surveyors Conder and Kitchener (1883. situated near the northern walls of the first. Óorvat Óur (also Khir bet Óor a or Óaur a. 44*-45*. Govrin (HA 1984. The second one. situated about 100 m south-east of the present cross-roads of the Hebron-Beersheva and Arad-Tel Aviv roads. this second complex could represent a monastery (Govrin 1992. The latter pointed out that no traces of a church were visible on the spot.077) These ruins. Fig. is a complex of rooms and courtsyards built of large flint stones (Fig. The first group includes a large basilica. evidence of two groups of Byzantine buildings has been reported in the recent archaeological survey conducted on the spot by Y. 7 ‘Ein ‘Avdat. According to its publisher. no. 4). with an atrium on its west and some rooms around it (21×51 m) (Fig. 2). 5).

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

a church was reported there by Musil (1908. Sobata and Oboda (below. although this cannot be proved until real excavations are conducted on the spot.073) These important ruins. On the other hand. FIGUERAS Óorvat Kuseife (map ref. Mader. 7 km north of Beersheva. though some scholars would like to identify it with the civil settlement of Malatha (Oppidum Malathis) (Avi-Yonah 1977. reported the presence of two other churches. . As early as in 1901. s. Malatha). s. 34]). 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. mentions a certain “Salamanos. 121). a fragmentary inscription found in Óorvat Karkur ‘Elit (186 . which is still a matter of controversy. represent a big settlement from the Byzantine period. 10) was served by a monastic community (Ovadiah 1970.069). 155. 51). situated on the road to Arad.v. Ovadiah who suggested that the northern church (Fig. It was A. who visited the spot in 1911/14.082). Should this be the case. 225). 10 Óorvat Kuseife. 26.v.). 18). it would be another example of monastic churches situated in or very near to towns. priest of Malath[a]” (Figueras 1985. as in Ru˙eibeh. 78. 152. plan of church complex (Ovadiah 1970. 18 km west of present Arad. Pl.416 P. to the south of the first one (Mader 1918. 39 [no. 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 Fig. 31] and 42 [no.

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

In the second century C. Mamshit) (map ref. Mamshit).. Mamshit). 96). the geographer Ptolemy (V. Negev. The ruins are situated 5 south-east of today’s Dimona. 156.418 P. 12 Mampsis (Kurnub. the Nessana Papyri (Kraemer 1958. 7) recorded that town as Maps. plan of ruins (Negev. he also excavated the two Byzantine churches. Together with other parts of the town. 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. 64-82). 15. such as the city-walls and two big residential buildings. Although visited and surveyed by several scholars. 1988. FIGUERAS Mampsis (Kurnub. 124) and others (Shereshevski 1991. New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Fig.E.048) (Fig. 400-404. 21-22). . which are probably the oldest ones in the Negev (Negev 1974. on the eastern side of the Northern Negev. large scale excavations were not conducted in the site till 1965 by A.

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

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

. Baumgarten on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities. 99). also thought that it had been a monastery (Wiegand 1920).MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 421 Fig. An archaeological survey of the ruins was conducted on the spot in 1979 by Y. as part of the general survey of the region (Segal 1986. 15 Mitzpe Shivta. It was found that the western gate on the wall (Fig. 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). This building had been interpreted by Woolley and Lawrence as a guest-house or the residence of the Superior of the monastery. general plan of ruins (Baumgarten 1986.5 m. 97-108). in the middle of which were the ruins of a stone building measuring 12×14. 15) gave entrance to a large open space. Wiegand.

.2×6. partly excavated into the rock (Fig. the guest-house (xenodochium) of Saint George.9 m deep and a room annexed to its southern wall.6×4. 87). White and colored fragments of the plaster once covering the walls and the apse were found on the stone slabs of the pavement. 16 Mitzpe Shivta. apparently built later than the original building. 570 by the anonymous Piacenza pilgrim.0 m. who called it “a fort. partly built. which can be seen on a lower level than the chapel around the edge of the natural platform. 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. 101). This room measures 11. Fig. 7). An arched structure facing east is probably a prayer cell (Phot. 101). Fig.” situated twenty miles from Elusa to the south.422 P. “which provides something of a refuge for passers-by and gives food for hermits” (Wilkinson 1977. 17 Mizpe Shivta. plan of the chapel (Baumgarten 1986. The rooms. suggests seeing it as the desert inn described c. 16) includes a simple prayer hall measuring 18. Baumgarten. 17). plan of rockcut rooms (Baumgarten 1986. with an apse on the east 1. FIGUERAS The chapel on the eastern side of the open space (Fig. have been interpreted as hermits’ cells by Baumgarten (1986).6.

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

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

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

Pap. 45. even though at periods he was a married person. .29 In one of the papyri found 29. 20 Map of Nessana ruins (Woolley-Lawrence 1914/15). 77. 12. 50. 77.1. see Meimaris 1986.426 P. 147. Its Superior is often referred to in papyri and inscriptions with the monastic title of hegoumenos (Kraemer 1958. 46. 47. FIGUERAS Fig. Colt 1962. A suggested solution is to consider those hegumenoi as having entered the monastic order only after they became widows.1.10. 239-246). This apparent incongruency has been noticed by all those who have dealt with Nessana’s papyri and inscriptions.8.4. nos.3.

with whom the former apparently held current relations. “monastery”30) of St. It has even been suggested to identify “Father Martyrios” of Mount Sinai. 89.23. The evidence on the monastic attachments of this church. Sergius” (Kraemer 1958. Indeed. . were very familiar to Thaleleus. there is an interesting graffito including a long list of eight saints.(30) The term monachos. while others belonged to the western Church. who wrote it on the plastered voussoir stone. 167).44). no. 151-152). Besides the above said hegoumenos that occurs several times.35. 23). others less. 3. 236. 595 (ibid. Mathra)” “Our Mother Pheste” This is not the right place to comment on this list.). Cf. 1177. and the title abba. some of them well-known Egyptian monks. 31. One of these references is not to the monks of Nessana but to those of Mount Sinai. the man from Nessana. 79. Pap. possibly himself a monk. Superior of Mt. others who had been famous in Palestine. Pap. referred to in Pap. 90.” no less than fifteen times. “monk. 38. 31. some very famous.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 427 in a room annexed to this church. see inscription 78 in Colt 1962..” occurs four times in the papyri (ibid. Sinai c. The list was possibly used as a sort of a calendar. come particularly not only from the contents of an inscription. seven “Fathers” and three “Mothers” (Colt 1962. 91. pp. as suggested by its publishers (Colt. but also from the buildings surrounding it. A. “Father. this church complex is called “the mone (that is..61. with an Abbot of the same name. pp.25. ibid. but it is obvious that monks and nuns. as the 30. The epigraphic evidence is also impressive.31 Church no. Mone is actually a synonym for monasterion and other Greek terms meaning monastery. 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. the remains of which were reported by early visitors and today unfortunately destroyed (above). 254 and 259.23. Meimaris 1986.D. no. n.

plan shows. plan and section of SS. 1) (Colt 1962.7×18.428 P.5×9 m) had a spacious atrium (12. a rectangular hall in the north.5 m) to the west. LXIII). Sergius and Bacchus church and monastery (church no. 21 Nessana. and a room complex in the south. The latter was probably a monastery. FIGUERAS Fig. Pl. . the church (17. as already suggested by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15).

Its location is north of the complex of St. In the latter case. Its dedicatory text comes as a surprise in more than one aspect: “For the salvation of the donors Sergius.34 The existence of monasteries of women in the 32. This suggestion could be supported by the presence of the Greek word matronikia (“women quarters”?) in one of the Nessana papyri (Kraemer 1958.31. Palut his sister. so as to offer. The huge well near the upper church is actually situated between both monastic complexes and could be used by both communities. Pap. The first person mentioned is now a monk.62). 79. a monastery of women. on the slope of the acropolis hill. 79. A. probably the one referred to here. 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. I thank my colleague Dr. such a gift as the foundation of a monastery with its church. and John.E.29. Ovadiah prefers to interpret it of the era of Gaza. Dan Urman for kindly allowing me to make use of the photo and to report on his discovery. 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.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).D. 6 (Phot. Their presence there is explained by the pilgrim movement to Mount Sinai through the Negev desert (Figueras 1995). Church No. Sergius and Bacchus. and member of the city council of the metropolis Emesa. In the year 496. 33. It should be observed that term is only a guess by the publishers of the corrupted text of Pap.32 It is plausible to think that those people. 34. might be a nunnery. The monastery seems to have been built according to a well-drafted and regular plan. together with his sister and nephew. after he retired from his lucrative job as a lawyer in Emesa. with or without his sister and nephew. the 20th of month Gorpiaios” (September 7. deacon. still unpublished. which actually only reads m[ ]. we could come to the conclusion that one of them. It could be that he himself.33 Undoubtedly. her son. founded a monastery in Nessana on the occasion of their visit to the town. This is according to the Arabic or Elusa era. had decided to live permanently in Nessana. 609). 9). ex-assesor and monk. Should one be allowed to speculate about this multiplication of monasteries in Nessana. the year would be 435 C. but a monk that is legally able to dispose of his fortune. fifth indiction-year. members of a rich family from the remote Syrian city of Emesa (today Homs). .

Dauphin. were found there. who visited one of them near Elusa. s. The letters addressed by the Muslim governor of Gaza to “the people of Nessana” (Kraemer 1958. Id. monks involved in such social activities as organized education. 73) actually arrived in the hands of that powerful person. we obtain the general picture of a rich civil center in the Negev. See above. but also on what would today be called “Christian tourism” (Figueras 1995b). Chariton in the Judean desert. . and these were particularly linked to monastic institutions.v.36 But here we have it written in a sixth century document. Not by chance. FIGUERAS Byzantine Negev is well attested to by the already quoted text of the Piacenza Pilgrim. 36. 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. 634. The evidence comes from the papyri referring to the plot of land of a certain “Victor. Pap. Sergius (and Bacchus). 1979. it had usually been admitted by scholars that agriculture had been practiced by monks in Palestine in the Byzantine period. Two interesting writing tablets were discovered there also. which certainly included a boys-school as well. It is possible that even the civil administration was in the hands of the Church authorities. Hebrew. that is. the most important papyri were found in the premises of the monastery of St. not living a life only of prayer and contemplation but combined with some manual work. son of the Very Honorable Sergius Aladias.v. monk” (Kraemer 1958. whose Head held the monastic title of hegoumenos.” in Tsafrir 1993.D. see also Pap.2324. As a matter of fact.61).” Qadmoniot 12 (45). as the archaeological records show. Pap.). we would have in Nessana a kind of monasticism more akin to the ideals of St. evidence of organized and sophisticated agricultural activity by monks of the Byzantine period has also been discovered (C. still holding their wax layer with some words scratched on it by a young student. s.35 Summarizing all the available data about Nessana in the last period of its existence from before and after the Muslim conquest. Pachomius in Egypt or St.430 P. On the other hand.. “A Monastery Farm from the Early Byzantine Period at Shlomi. such literary pages as those of the Latin poet Vergil. If this could be proved. it is also very probable that monks from the Nessana area were involved in agricultural and commercial activities. 90. “A Byzantine Ecclesiastical Farm at Shlomi. Basil of Cappadocia than to those of St. 25-29.35 and 91. In the north of Israel. 31. with a rather strong economy based not only on agriculture and trade. together with fragments of a Latin-Greek dictionary. that occurred about A. 43-48). Not by chance either. 35. A case in point for the Negev region is the wine-press near the north church of Sobata (see below.

). These names. 37. Fig. 22) The present ruins of ‘Avdat. ‘Abdeh. another (the south) church was built on the acropolis (Fig. 414). the first (or north) church was built in the area of an ancient Nabatean temple on the acropolis.37 Actually. .MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 431 Oboda (Eboda. 128. represent the ancient town of Oboda of the Peutinger Map (Phot. 403). 24).2. the destruction of the town in the seventh century is probably to be assigned to an earthquake that took place in 631. ‘Avdat) (map ref. 22 Map of Oboda (after ‘Eini 1986. According to the results of more recent excavations. in which.C.13). 39. 10) and Eboda of the Nessana Papyri (Kramer 1958. certainly correspond to that of the Nabatean king Obodas (39-9 B. the first Christian inscription from the south church of Oboda dates from 550 and the last one from 617 (Negev 1981. and probably following the construction of the huge fortress in the sixth century with its little chapel. but this is today much doubted. who was considered to have been the founder of the town. 29 and 37). Apparently in the fifth century (Negev 1974. 23).Vincent 1904). which the Arabs preserved under the form of ‘Abdeh (Jaussen . Pap. Later on. situated in the central Negev on the Beersheva Eilat road (Fig. its excavator. [‘Avdat] 6). Negev.Savignac . according to Stephen of Byzanz.022) (Fig. he was also buried. On the basis of coins and inscriptions. A. assumed that the entire town with its two churches were destroyed by the Muslims in 636 (Negev 1974.

As said above (Mampsis). 24). 31.” who died on September 22. the title ABBAC was much used. both from the south church. This caves of ‘Ein ‘Avdat (after ‘Eini 1986. as was recognised by its excavators (Ovadiah 1970. 25). but it can today be seen. and it refers to a certain “Father (Greek ABBAC) Kapito. to the north and the south of the central apse. [‘Avdat] 5). in basilical style (21×12. (son) of Erasinos. another invocation to the same Saint was found in the south church inscribed on a fragment of chancel screen (Negev 1982. next to the parking place. 30). This church (Fig. the presbyter.39 38. proba. surrounded by several rooms on three 23 Map of the ‘Avdat region. restored. namely architecture and epigraphy. a pithos.6 m) and having two chapels for the veneration of relics. no. . The pithos was unfortunately smashed to pieces. graphic relation between Oboda and the monastic bly had an upper story. 31). showing geoof its sides (Phot. FIGUERAS Evidence of a monastic presence in Oboda comes from two sources. As already said. A last hint to the relations between Oboda and the monastic world comes from another inscription.E.Fig. this could be the central coenobium to which the hermits from the laura of ‘Ein ‘Avdat (above) were connected. 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. in the small restaurant at the foot of ‘Avdat. 617 C. this time written in cursive letters in red color on the shoulder of a very large pottery container. 36-37). 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. though not exclusively.38 The almost square atrium (15×14 m) to the western side of the basilica.432 P. by monastic superiors (Meimaris 1986. has an epitaph of the pavement of the church calling it “Martyrium of St. 39. (Negev 1981. Theodore” (Negev 1981. One of the five epitaphs on the pavement of this church complex was found in the portico of the atrium. 11). 235-236). Beside the already mentioned graffito on the so-called Saints’ Cave on the slope of the acropolis.

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

Tsafrir (partly in collaboration with R. among which there is a rough drawing of a saint soldier. another one in Elusa (Alt 1921. Such an epithet seems to me to refer to a consecrated virgin. In Oboda we also find a boy “who died unmarried” (eteleutesen agamos). who could be the economus or administrator of a monastic comunity in that remote town of the Negev.434 P. and not just to a woman that happened to die before she got married. 1976. 239). was sent by a venerable monk by name Theodosius. One case is in Oboda (Negev 1981. and his daughter virgin”). 16. as archaeology does not support it. were honored with the same title. Phot. there is only a light hint in the epitaph. In 1975. such as Barsanuphius (above. 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. already published by Alt (1921. gerontos. Pl. Of course. to a deacon in Oboda.048) This Byzantine town of the Negev was known to all the visiting scholars of the last century and beginning of the present one. probably representing St. according to the graffiti accompanying it (Negev 1981. koinobiarch or Father of all the monasteries of the Holy Land since 492. 37). being only “17 years and seven months old” (Negev 1981. of a woman that was “virgin of God” (Greek: parthene [sic!] Theou). Despite the similarity of the Arabic name Ru˙eibeh to the town of Re˙ovot mentioned in the Bible (Gen 26:22). This would explain the crosses and other Christian symbols decorating some of the walls. no. at a certain period at least. near Bethlehem. could be the famous Saint Theodosius. who founded the monastery till today called Mar Dosios. 44: “. FIGUERAS man”40 here referred to. the house-caves that can be seen on the western slope of the acropolis were once inhabited by monks. the sending of a big pithos. Here in Genitive form. We cannot exclude the possibility that. there seems to be no connection between both places. who suggested identifying the place with 40.41 Ru˙eibeh (Re˙ovot ha-Negev) (map ref. 29).. Theodore. as other cases must certainly be interpreted. .. 108. 41. probably full of oil or wine. no. Concerning the presence of nuns in Oboda. Anyway. 44: “the virgin Sosanna”). Birosaba). 1979 and 1986 excavations were conducted at the site by T. we have no right to identify the two names. 114). “Old Man” was a monastic honorary title given to cer- tain venerable monks (see Meimaris 1986. who was certainly endowed with powerful administrative authority. Rosenthal-Hegginbottom).

in the north-west. On the other hand. Bertheiba. Its special feature. Assistance to pilgrims in this particular church was assured by the presence of monks. but the presence of a monastery has not been supported by the excavations (Tsafrir 1993. The existence of this crypt is evidence of the frequency of visitors to the town and the church. Four churches were discovered in the town. a threeabsidal basilica (Fig. Indeed. is situated some 100 m outside the built area of the town.10 m. and it measures 24.4×4. 295). 25 Ru˙eibeh. the east and the south. 25). plan of north church and monastery (Tsafrir 1993). The one in the center had been described by Woolley and Lawrence (1914/15) as being attached to a monastery and a khan. which most probably is explained by the fact that Ru˙eibeh lay on the road connecting Elusa with Nessana. one of the pilgrim routes finally leading to Mount Sinai (Figueras 1995b.MONKS AND MONASTERIES IN THE NEGEV DESERT 435 Fig. the north church.80×13. which has also been excavated. the excava- . as its excavator has proved (Tsafrir 1988). the center. This church. an interesting crypt measuring 3. map). apparently for the veneration of some important relics. around the southern wall of the atrium. Tsafrir 1993. is certainly a monastery church.3 m was discovered below the presbytery and the nave. a Byzantine toponym referred to in Papyrus 79 of Nessana (Kraemer 1958. though not entirely. 294-302). The access to it was provided by a flight of steps on each side.

among them Palmer in 1870. Rosenthal in 1978 (RosenthalHegginbottom 1982). A cistern in the middle of the courtyard collected rain water from the roofs of church and monastery for the maintenance of its dwellers. The north church was again surveyed and studied by Negev and R. who discovered the three churches and a number of inscriptions. It must be pointed out that the inscriptions found so far in Ru˙eibeh do not confirm the presence of monks in the town. 26 Sobata.. FIGUERAS tions cleared some rooms. but no reports were published then either. Shivta) (map ref. and Jaussen. The American-British Colt expedition worked on the spot in 1934-36. Its location may owe more to agricultural than to commercial criteria. 114. [Shivta] 6). 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. 300). Its impressive ruins called the attention of many visitors.E. in 1905.032) (Fig. Savignac and Vincent. particularly a long and spacious one containing a long narrow table.436 P. as was the case in the north church of Sobata (here below). 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. 1). 26) This town was probably built by the Nabateans towards the first century C. but the results of this excavation were never published. . Musil in 1901. plan of the town showing The monastic presence in south. and survived the Muslim conquest up to the eighth or ninth century. Fig. being as it is remote from the normal trade routes (see Fig. Sobata (Sobota. A good plan of Sobota was produced by Woolley and Lawrence in 1914/15. Sbeita. rounding buildings (after ‘Eini 1986. central and north churches and surSobata is an established fact.

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

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

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

46 No epigraphic evidence for the presence of monks in this central church has been preserved. Knowing the use that is commonly referred only to Augustin of Hippo in North Africa. fruit of the spontaneous initiative of inspired people. However. I. the scholar has the right to suggest the intepretation of certain archaeological remains along the same line. only a short inscription on a abacus of stone capital. Fig. 1389-90 . it is possible that here. 46. in PG 67. 62.440 P. On the basis of that historical reality. Stephen. 70). Situated to the east of the open pull of the town. being the commemoration of a new paving of the church under Bishop George and the Archdeacon and economus Peter (Negev 1981. no. in the fifth century. we must be allowed to imagine a group of clergy living together in community of goods and sitting at the same table. the other much nearer to our region. 47.30 m) is probably the oldest of the three churches. 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. the case of Melas. 30). Church History V. besides the very well-known example of Augustin’s clergy. is well known in ancient monastic architecture. 61). 15. Indeed. South church (Fig. and maybe around the central church too. was published with relation to this church (Negev 1981. the holy bishop of Rhinocorura (today’s El-‘Arish) in North Sinai (Sozomen. Its only dated inscription. however. 15. this church was very probably dedicated to St. Epist 63. possibly the origin of the whole urban center of Sobata. this basilica (19×14. such as Sobata. sit at the same table. 1389-90). and have everything in common” (Sozomenos. 4. one around bishop Eusebius of Vercelli (Ambrosius. where monks and nuns took shelter during the attack by the Pelagians. an invocation to St. The text of Sozomenos concerning Rhinocolura towards the end of the fourth century is convincing: “The clergy of this church dwell in one house. apparently. 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. These examples. 5). two other cases are known of the same kind of phaenomenon. According to a graffito detected on a wall at its entrance attesting to the frequent visits by pilgrims (Figueras 1994. Church History. 7-9). Actually. PG 67. is from A. no. Stephen. 639. even if there is no literary or epigraphic evidence for it. Also here the epigraphy does not help to see any connection with monks.D.47 could have been imitated in other towns as well. A single Parish priest with his family would certainly not need such a house. FIGUERAS as shelters for the community in case of danger. rather than a community of monks of the traditional kind. V.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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