Back to top


Auch, 5th-7th century

Engraved limestone, 19 x 23 x 10 cm

On permanent loan from the Musée d’Archéologie nationale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye


Stèle, Auch, Ve-VIIe siècle, calcaire gravé, 19 x 23 x 10 cm

Dépôt permanent du Musée d’Archéologie nationale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

This small stele, acquired by the Musée d’Archéologie nationale in 1873, was discovered in the mid-19th century on the Saint-Orens site at Auch (Gers). The six-line inscription is in Latin- with the use of some Greek letters -, except for the last line in Hebrew characters.







The Hebrew word shalom (“peace”) and the three accompanying motifs, a shofar (a wind instrument made from a ram’s horn), the menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum in the temporary sanctuary in the wilderness then in the Temple in Jerusalem) and a lulav - a palm used at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot - are clear signs of a Jewish context. On the other hand, the meaning of the inscription, depending on the interpretation (number 1 or 2 in italics) of the second line, is still uncertain.  

"In the Holy Name of God                                                    

1) The paving stones here, Bennid      or      2) Peleger who [lies] here, son of Nid

— May God be with him and that

Envious eyes be blinded — 1) offered it      or      2) by the grace​​​​​​​

1) As a gift,      or      2) of God,      Jonas made it


According to one hypothesis, this is the dedication of the paving (pelester) of a synagogue, offered by a certain Bennid. According to another, it is the funerary stele of a certain Peleger, “son of Nid”, the use of Hebrew instead of  “filius Nidi” confirming his Jewish identity. Peleger – regarded by some as the equivalent of Gerson – would be a Greek name, a language rarely used during the Carolingian period except in Jewish communities with strong trading links with the Byzantine Empire in Greece. This epitaph is similar to numerous Italian examples in Latin and Greek from late Antiquity, on which there is both the word shalom in Hebrew and Jewish symbols such as the shofar, the menorah and the lulav, the date palm frond used during the Feast of Tabernacles.  

In both cases, the stele is the work of a certain Jonas, a typically Jewish name. The imprecation against the evil eye, frequent in popular Jewish culture, stems from several biblical verses (Job12: 20, Proverbs 30: 17) and is reiterated in the Talmud (Berakhot, 20a).

Whatever its purpose, this stele is one of the very rare examples – with a 7th-century stele found in Narbonne – of the continual Jewish presence in southern France from Antiquity to the early Middle Ages. Although the use of non-Jewish languages such as Latin and Greek, then the epigraphic norm, is a sign of complete integration, it makes its identification extremely difficult. Inscriptions in Hebrew, usually funerary, did not appear until the 12th century.

Sur le même thème

Cours d'honneur palmier et statue de Tim
Contemporary art, History

Tim (Louis Mittelberg, known as, Warsaw, 1919 – Paris 2002)

Paris, 2003

Christian Boltanski, Les Habitants de l’hôtel de SaintAignan en 1939
Contemporary art, History

Christian Boltanski (Paris, 1944)

Paris, 1998

Joseph Budko, Dans la ville du massacre
Art moderne, History

Joseph Budko (Plonsk, 1888 – Jérusalem, 1940)

Berlin, 1923