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The monastic mosaic at Mount Nebo, Jordan: biogeochemical and epigraphical evidence for diverse origins

  • Margaret Judd (a1), Lesley Gregoricka (a2) and Debra Foran (a3)


Due to its association with the Prophet Moses, the Byzantine monastery of Mount Nebo (AD 491–640) was (and still is) a popular pilgrimage destination in the southern Levant. Although foreign monastics were probably attracted to the monastery, communal interment has obscured the diverse origins of the people buried here. The authors use biogeochemical and onomastic inquiry to examine a cosmopolitan monastic ‘mosaic’ of identity. Isotopic analyses of tooth enamel reveal the presence of a sizeable number (47 per cent) of non-local migrants buried at the site. Mosaic inscriptions provide further evidence for the ethnic diversity of the population.

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