Tell Umm Amer
The site of Tell Umm Amer (Khirbet Umm Al-Tutt) is located in Al-Nusairat village on the coast, east of the shore rifts and on the south bank of Wadi Gaza, 8.5 kilometres south of Gaza city.
The first settlement on the site was established during the Roman era on Wadi Gaza, close to the seashore. It appears on the Madaba map with the name of Tabatha, dating from the Byzantine to the early Islamic period (400-670 AD).
The site contains the ruins of the monastery of Saint Hilarion (born in 291 AD), which consists of two churches, a burial site, a baptism hall, a public cemetery, an audience hall, and dining rooms. The monastery was provided with good infrastructure facilities, including water cisterns, clay-ovens and drainage channels. Its floors were partially paved with limestone, marble tiles and coloured mosaics decorated with plants and animals scenes. A great fifth-century mosaic was probably laid on the floor of a chapel. The floors include also a Greek inscription decorated with circular motifs.
In addition, the monastery was equipped with baths, consisting of Frigedarium, Tepidarium and Caldarium halls. The wide space of these halls ensured that the baths could adequately serve the pilgrims and merchants crossing the Holy land from Egypt to the Fertile Crescent through the main route of Via Maris.
Tell Umm Amer was the birthplace of Saint Hilarion, who had received a splendid education in Alexandria, and had gone to Antonius in the desert for further instruction. He founded his eponymous monastery in the third century, and is considered as the founder of monastic life in Palestine. The monastery was destroyed in 614 AD.