Georgian graffiti of Nazareth and Sinai

The Georgian graffiti of Nazareth and Sinai (Georgian: ნაზარეთის და სინაის ქართული გრაფიტი) are the Old Georgian pilgrim graffiti inscriptions written in ancient Georgian Asomtavruli script[1] found in Nazareth and Mount Sinai.[2][3] The excavations were carried out under the guidance of the Italian archaeologist and Franciscan priest Bellarmino Bagatti[4] from 1955 to 1960.[5][6] Georgian pilgrimage towards the Holy Land started from the 5th century, reaching even the most distant sanctuaries.[7][8]

Georgian graffiti of Nazareth and Sinai
MaterialPlaster
WritingOld Georgian inscriptions written in a Georgian script
Created5th century
Discovered1950s
Present locationNazareth and Mount Sinai

GraffitiEdit

Nazareth graffitiEdit

The Georgian graffiti from Nazareth are poorly preserved and fragmentary in nature. Of the four inscriptions, only one can be deciphered as a complete sentence composed of the four abbreviated words:[5][9]

ႥႪႤ
ႪႨ

  • Translation: "A"

  • Translation: "K"

ႸႤ ႨႳ ႵႤ ႢႨ

Sinai graffitiEdit

In Sinai total number of twelve Georgian inscriptions were discovered. They were left by pilgrims on their way to the sanctuaries of Sinai or on the way back. Georgian Sinaitic graffiti inscriptions were discovered in the Wadi Mukattab and Wadi Haggag areas, both major routes of pilgrim-traffic in the Byzantine and Early Islamic period.[10] Most of these Georgian inscriptions are carved out in relatively low, easily accessible places. The letters are usually small, their size not exceeding few centimeters, even the biggest of the inscriptions with its 12 cm high letters is not of monumental character.[11]

ႵႤ ႦႭႱႨႫႤ ႸႤ

  • Translation: "Jesus Christ, have mercy on Zosime".

ႵႤ ႸႪႤ ႫႬჂ

  • Translation: "Jesus Christ, have mercy on your monk".

ႼႭ ႱႨႬႠ ႸႤ ႫႤ ႼႭ

  • Translation: "Holy Sinai, have mercy on me, o holy".

ႣႤ ႠႫ

  • Translation: "Greatness, Amen”.

ႭႭ ႸႤ ႫႨႱႵႨ
ႸႤ ႾႪႬႨ
ႢႡႪ

  • Translation: "O, Lord, have mercy on Miski, have mercy on the fruit(?) of Gabriel".

ႤႣ ႢႥ

  • Translation: "For prayer" (?)

ႢႰႨႢႭႪ

  • Translation: "Grigol"

DatingEdit

The Georgian graffiti were found incised, together with the Greek, Syriac, Latin and Armenian letters, on plaster in the remains of an ancient shrine discovered under the mosaic pavements of a ruined Byzantine church and dated by Joan E. Taylor to the period between 340 and 427.[12][13] The Georgian finds were studied and published by the Georgian historian and linguist Zaza Aleksidze. All these artifacts are preserved at the Franciscan Museum near the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.[5]

Together with the Georgian Bir el Qutt inscriptions found in Judaean Desert, the graffiti inscriptions are the oldest extant Georgian inscriptions.[5] They illustrate the early pilgrimage of Georgian Christians to the Holy Land shortly after Christianization of Iberia. Further, Werner Seibt suggests that the Georgian script could have been invented in Syro-Palestine by the expatriate Georgian monks. They might have been supported in their endeavor by their high-ranking aristocratic countrymen such as Bacurius the Iberian, a Byzantine commander in Palestine.[14]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Tchekhanovets (2011), p. 464
  2. ^ Tchekhanovets (2011), p. 457
  3. ^ Khurtsilava, p. 37
  4. ^ Khurtsilava, p. 14
  5. ^ a b c d Tchekhanovets, pp. 193–195
  6. ^ Tchekhanovets (2011), p. 458
  7. ^ Tchekhanovets (2011), p. 466
  8. ^ Khurtsilava, p. 145
  9. ^ Tchekhanovets (2011), p. 459
  10. ^ Tchekhanovets (2011), p. 462
  11. ^ Tchekhanovets (2011), p. 463
  12. ^ Codoñer, p. 137
  13. ^ Khurtsilava, p. 38
  14. ^ Codoñer, p. 138

BibliographyEdit

  • Codoñer, J. S. (2014) New Alphabets For the Christian Nations: Frontier strategies in the Byzantine commonwealth between the 4th and 10th centuries, University of Valladolid, ISBN 978-1-4438-6395-7
  • Tchekhanovets, Y. (2018) The Caucasian Archaeology of the Holy Land: Armenian, Georgian and Albanian Communities between the Fourth and Eleventh Centuries CE, Brill, Leiden/Boston, ISBN 978-90-04-36555-1
  • Tchekhanovets, Y. (2011) Early Georgian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Liber Annuus 61
  • Khurtsilava, B. (2018) Traces of the Georgians on the Holy Land, Tbilisi, ISBN 978-9941-8-0042-9