The graffiti

Lots of graffiti and some inscriptions made with charcoal can be observed on the stone blocks found beneath the floor mosaics: these confirm that the building, demolished and replaced with the Byzantine church, was the venerated place. The faithful and pilgrims who visited it left drawings, invocations, names and prayers: it is evident that the veneration was a Christian tradition and above all, was linked to the cult of Mary.

The writings are not wholly conserved and are often difficult to read: they are testimony to the prevalent use of the Greek and Armenian languages. At the archaeological museum beside the Basilica of the Annunciation, the most significant inscriptions are presented, linked to the veneration of Mary. One bears the expression "beautiful girl" in Armenian, that was thought to refer to Mary; the other, written at the bottom of a column, invokes the "Chaire Maria" (Hail Mary), the words with which angel Gabriel greeted the Virgin. This inscription is very old and may even precede the Council of Ephesus, from 431 AD, from where the cult of Mary "Theotókos", mother of God developed.

A few drawings are found alongside the invocations. The most significant represents a man standing on his feet and holding a badge with his right hand: P. Bagatti believed he was the Baptist dressed in animal skins, bearing the cosmic cross, while other scholars thought him to be a roman soldier with helmet, armour, badge and shield.