Umm Leisun inscription

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Umm Leisun inscription
WritingGeorgian script
Created5th or 6th century
Present locationArchaeological Garden of Knesset, Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem
LanguageOld Georgian

The Umm Leisun inscription (Georgian: უმ ლეისუნის წარწერა, romanized: um leisunis ts'arts'era) is an Old Georgian limestone tombstone slab. It has a five-line[1] inscription written in the Georgian Asomtavruli script and was discovered in 2002, after the renewal of 1996[2] excavation at a Georgian monastery of the Byzantine period, in the neighborhood of Umm Leisun, in the southern part of Sur Baher, 4.5 km southeast of the Old City of Jerusalem.[3] It was found in a burial crypt under the polychrome[4] mosaic floor.[5]

In total about 24 interments were discovered in the crypt.[6] Per sex estimation for human skeletons, all of them were adult males, as would be expected in a monastery.[7] The occupant of the most important tomb identified by a Georgian inscription was a "Georgian bishop Iohane" (John in Old Georgian), who was also the oldest and his age underlined his special status.[8] He would have been aged 66 or 67 when he died, and had suffered from osteoporosis.[9] The inscription is the earliest known example for an ethnonym ႵႠႰႧႥႤႪႨ (kartveli i.e. Georgian) on any archaeological artifact, both in the Holy Land and in Georgia.[10][11]

The inscription covers an area of 81 × 49 cm cut into the tombstone. It is dated to the end of the 5th or the first half of the 6th century AD.[12] The inscription is kept at the Archaeological Garden of Knesset.[13]


Translation: This is the grave of Iohane, Bishop of Purtavi, a Georgian.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Seligman, p. 153
  2. ^ Tchekhanovets, p. 304
  3. ^ Seligman, p. 145
  4. ^ Seligman, p. 146
  5. ^ Seligman, p. 152
  6. ^ Seligman, p. 157
  7. ^ Tchekhanovets, p. 306
  8. ^ Seligman, p. 158
  9. ^ Khurtsilava, p. 26
  10. ^ Tchekhanovets, p. 305
  11. ^ Khurtsilava, p. 27
  12. ^ Seligman, p. 162
  13. ^ Seligman, p. 177


  • Seligman, J. (2015). "A Georgian Monastery from the Byzantine Period at Khirbat Umm Leisun, Jerusalem". 'Atiqot. 83: 145–180.
  • Tchekhanovets, Y. (2014) Iohane, Bishop of Purtavi and Caucasian Albanians in the Holy Land
  • Khurtsilava, B. (2014) A Georgian Monastery of Purta, Istoriani