Home | Up one level | Previous | Next

Installed 03 Aug 2010. Latest update, 10 Aug 2012.
Changes or additions are in bold.

Elusa Theatre Inscription

Elusa Theatre Inscription
Limestone plaque found in the theatre at Elusa, Israel. Picture by E. Jerry Vardaman

Cavea in Elusa theatre
Cavea in Elusa Theatre. Photograph by E.J. Vardaman

The plaque was found (about 30 feet to the left of the center of this view) during excavations in 1980 on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Exploration Society and Mississippi State University, under the direction of Avraham Negev.(1)

Greek text, courtesy of Professor Negev

        'Ε&piι Φλ(αουιου) Δημαρχου του με-
        γαλοπρεστατου και ευδο -
        χι&muωτατου αρχοντος εγε -
4.     νετο η προτου θεατρου
        πλαχωσις εως της προτε -
        ρας πλαχοσ(εως) επιμελ(εια) 'Αβρα -
        αμιου Ζηνοβιου πολιτ(ου)
8.     εν ετ(ε)ι            ΤΜΘ

Here are two different translations of the plaque's text. Words underlined above are rendered differently in the translations.

Avraham Negev

During the governorship of the most magnificent and most glorious Flavius Demarchus was made the pavement of the old theatre, up to the old pavement, by the charge of the citizen Abraamius son of Zenobius. In year 349.

Year 349 A.E. = A.D. 454/5.

Nicholas Zachary

In the time of Mayor Flavius, the most magnificent and most glorious governor, was made the pavement in front of the theatre, up to the old pavement, by the charge of Abraamius Zenobius, Citizen. In year 349.

According to Mr. Zachary (a Greek resident of Starkville, Mississippi in 1980), Demarchus means Mayor. "Every Greek town has one." Demarchus can also be translated as tribune. To this writer, tribune seems to fit the text better. Professor Negev says that the title μεγαλοπρεστατου (magnificentissimus), used in respect to Flavius Demarchus, was given to officials of the highest rank. (1) Page 74.

Zenobius, a native of Elusa and renowned teacher of rhetoric in Antioch, Syria, died in Antioch in A.D. 355. The plaque dates from A.D. 454/455. According to Professor Negev, those two facts allow us to speculate that the pavement mentioned was laid to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Zenobius.

Here is a site map of Elusa showing where the plaque was found. The map is a tracing from an aerial photograph. (The scale is approximate.) 1980 excavation areas are shown in green. Camp facilities (cleared out ruins) are shown in orange. [Added 7 Feb 2012.]

Elusa Site Map 1980

Elusa Archaeological Site in 1980 (2)


(1) Negev, Avraham, The Greek Inscriptions from the Negev, Jerusalem (1981)

(2) Negev, Avraham, Nabatean Archeology Today, New York University Press, 1986 (in English). The publishing codes for this book are DS 154.22.N45 also ISBN 0-8147-5760-X. (Figure 63)
Thanks to Stuart Cohen for this reference. 19 Jun 2012

External Links

The Madaba Mosaic Map - Discussion: 109. Elusa - Franciscan Cyberspot

Contact: R.S. Fritzius at: fritzius@bellsouth.net