Back to home

Yeghegis 4: Inscriptions.


The Hebrew, and sometimes Aramaic, inscriptions carved into the basalt gravestones make it possible to sketch an outline of a Jewish community from the mid-13th century to 1337 at Yeghegis, which was then a prosperous Armenian city.

The inscriptions are interesting insights into the lives of the interred and their hopes for the afterlife. They include quotations from the Bible, and Hebrew names.

“Niftar Baba dar David behodesh Tamuz shnat aleph-taf-resh - dokhran tav lenichot nafshata” “Baba son of David died in the month of Tammuz, year 1600” reads one inscription, which marks the death of one of the members of the community in the year reckoned by the calendar used by the Jews of the East (and still used by the Jews of Yemen) equivalent to the year 1289. In Aramaic, the inscription wishes the deceased "good memory and rest for the soul."

In another epitaph, a father mourns his young son and expresses his belief in the eternity of the soul, citing passages from Isaiah's prophecy on the resurrection of the dead.

On a third tombstone is cited a blessing of Aaron the priest from the Temple, in beautiful Hebrew.

One of the most beautiful inscriptions is dated the 18th of Tishrei of the common era year 1266, dedicated to the memory of "the virgin maiden, the affianced Esther, daughter of Michael. May her portion be with our matriarch Sar[ah]...".

The opposite side quotes "Grace is a lie and beauty is vanity" from Proverbs 31:30 from Hebrew scriptures and continues with a statement that Esther was "God-fearing".

Some of the stones from the cemetery—along with Armenian khachkars (stone crosses)—were reused as foundation stones for a nearby foot bridge and as a floor for a water mill. The rest are well preserved, in an open area with foundations of a walled area and in a nearby grove of trees.