Mosaics and Biblical Jordan


Mosaic of a dog chasing a haze, Madaba


Mosaics in Jordan
"As Christianity was the dominant religion in Jordan from the late 4th century to the early 7th, there are a number of sites of relevance to Christians, as well as to others. Almost 100 places in Jordan are mentioned in the Bible, but often with different names" (LP). From the Dead Sea to East Jerusalem (now in the West Bank) and Mount Nebo across from Jericho where Moses died. Unlike mosaics found in other countries, mosaics in Jordan where made for the floor, and were hardy enough to withstand anything except massive earthquakes. So if the walls of many churches now no longer exist, the mosaics that covered their floors have remained. 


A masterpiece of geometrical design, Church of the Virgin Mary, Madaba


We started our journey through "Biblical" Jordan in Madaba, famous since antiquity for its mosaics. Madaba is home to St Georges Church where in 1884 a stunning mosaic was unearthed. "The mosaic is a clear map with 157 captions (all in Greek) of all major biblical sites from Lebanon to Egypt, and down to the Mediterranean - including obvious references to the Nile River, Dead Sea and, in the middle, Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre." Of the original 25 by 6 meters and the 2 million pieces it contained, only a third remains but it is magnificent.


A detail of the "Mosaic Map" picturing the city of Jerusalem, St George Church, Madaba


The mosaic in Church of the Apostles in Madaba is one of the few instances where the mosaic builder put his name of his work. The caretaker took a wet broom and the mosaic became a riot of colours ! 


Mt Nebo
After a morning spent in Madaba, we headed for Mount Nebo, the most revered Christian site in Jordan. Mount Nebo is where Moses apparently saw the Promised Land and later died and was buried. The views from the plateau are sweeping and we decided to stop for a picnic.


A picnic with a view, overlooking Israel and the Jordan Valley


Go up into ... Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the Land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die. (Deuteronomy, 32,49-50). Mount Nebo is home to the Moses Memorial Church and is Jordan's prime pilgrimage destination.



Inside the Moses Memorial Church (left & right pictures), the bronze cross overlooking the "Promised Land" (centre)


That evening we headed for Mukawir (Machaerus, where John the Baptist was beheaded) perched on a 700 m hill overlooking the Dead Sea. There are the ruins of  the castle of Herod the Great. We were offered tea by the caretaker and decided to stop for the night.


Sunset over the Dead Sea, Mukawir, Central Jordan


On our way in Southern Jordan


We are doing well !

Our journey through Jordan Back to Trip page Petra