One thousand and four hundred years ago, an obscure Armenian priestknelt by the entrance to his cell, in a sprawling convent outside thewalls of the Jerusalem, and composed a humble plea. The words he used were simple, but there was nothing unpretentiousin the medium he chose to convey his message: a magnificent floor mosaicof five variously colored concentric circles, measuring eight feet by 10and studded with pert red petals. Within the protective embrace of the smallest circle, he inscribedthese memorable lines: "I, Yevsdat ( Eustacius) the priest, laid downthis mosaic. You who enter this room, remember me and my brother Ghugas(Lucas), unto Christ." Centuries passed, and Jerusalem fell under the sway of anassortment of overlords who took a perverse delight in leveling the city,again and again. In the process, Yevsdat's prayer collapsed under the rubble of whatarchaeologists concluded must have been the first Armenian monastery tobe built in the Holy Land. As is almost always the case where archaeology is concerned, themosaic was discovered by a fortuitous accident - had it not been for thepick of a laborer excavating for a new highway, the site might have beenconsigned to oblivion, and the Armenian nation lost one of its mostprecious relics, of which there are known to be only six others in theworld. The "medallion" lay across the road from the beautiful Armenianbird mosaic in the Musrara Quarter of Jerusalem unearthed a century ago.It was only in November 1991 that laborers stumbled upon it, their picksand shovels stirring up not only the dust of centuries, but also relicsof a people steeped in Christian history, lore and endurance. Among the other finds on the site were three other Armenianinscriptions, two tombstones, and one graffito on a large pottery bowl. These join a number of other significant Armenian inscriptionsrecently found in the Holy Land, the most interesting of which aregraffiti from Nazareth and the Sinai, which date from the first part ofthe fifth century, within decades of the invention of the alphabet. I was in my office in the Armenian Patriarchate when news of thediscovery reached us. An elated Patriarch, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian,made prompt arrangements for a site inspection and accompanied by threeother members of the priestly Brotherhood of St James, we trooped toMusrara. We stood there, on the lip of the excavation, gazing down insilence at the immaculately preserved work of art, each absorbed in hisown thoughts of wonder. None could bring himself to touch it - so full ofawe were we all. This was another uncontroverted proof of the permanence of theArmenians presence in Jerusalem: this was the prayer of one of ourpriests, and these were the bones of some of our ancestors. As if prompted by some inner call, the Patriarch raised his headand began to intone a prayer for the repose of the souls of the dead. And when his companion priests joined in singing "iy vereenYerusaghem" (upwards, towards the Upper Jerusalem, towards the dwellingof the angels," I found it hard to stop the tears. Archaeologists have been thrilled at the discovery of themedallion, viewing it particularly important for the light it throws onthe series of mosaics bearing Armenian inscriptions discovered inJerusalem from 1873 to the early twentieth century. The Yevsdat plea, written in impeccable Classical Armenian, hasbeen virtually completely preserved. The two names mentioned in themosaic are clearly Armenians form of their Greek counterparts. According to the leading Israeli armenologist Professor MichaelStone, even the full form "Eustathius" is very rare in Armenian usage. "No form of this name occurs in the manuscript colophons down to1200 (Mat‘evosyan 1988), or in the indexes of proper names in thecatalogues of the Mashdots Matenadaran, Institute of Ancient Manuscriptsin Erevan, Armenia and of the Patriarchal library in Jerusalem," he said. "From the fact that both names are Greek and Christian, it isperhaps possible to infer that both brothers were clerics, for it was thecustomary for clerics to take biblical names, or those of saints of theChurch," he added. "The mosaic was uncovered in a carefully executed excavation andcan be dated, on archeological grounds, to the second half of the seventhcentury, which is extremely important. This date is established by coinsdiscovered embedded in the mortar in which the floor was laid. In themortar five coins were found, the earliest of which is of the FourthCentury and the latest is a Byzanto-Arab coin of the middle of theSeventh Century." Stone believed the last coin is the most important since itprovides a terminus post quem for the laying of the mosaic floor with theinscription.