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Madaba

Madaba; Known as the "City of Mosaics" in Jordan; is the fifth most populous town in Jordan, known for its’ Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, that exist in public and private buildings. On top a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of The Holy Land.

Madaba dates from the Middle Bronze Age, a long history stretching from the Neolithic period. Once a Moabite border city; mentioned in the bible; Ruled by the Roman and Byzantine Empires from the Second till the seventh century AD, being part of the Provincia Arabia by Emperor Trajan to replace the Nabatean Kingdom of Petra. Later, part of the southern Jund Filastin during the rule of Islamic Umayyad Caliphate

The first witness of a Christian community in the city, with its own bishop, is found in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

The resettlement of the city ruins by Arab Christian families from Kerak, in the south, led by two Italian priests from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1880, saw the start of archeological research.

The first mosaics were discovered purely by chance during the building of the new permanent dwellings using squared-up stones from the old monuments.
The Map of Madaba mosaic was discovered in 1896; however, the findings were published a year later. This discovery drew the attention of scholars worldwide. It also positively influenced the inhabitants, who shared the contagious passion of F.Giuseppe Manfredi, to whom the rediscovery of most of the city's mosaics are owed.

The northern part of the city turned out to be the area containing the greatest concentration of mosaic monuments. During the Byzantine-Umayyad period, this northern area, crossed by a colonnaded Roman road, saw the building of the Church of the Map, the Hippolytus Mansion, the Church of the Virgin Mary, the Church of Prophet Elijah with its crypt, the Church of the Holy Martyrs "Al-Khadir", the Burnt Palace and the Church of the Sunna' family.

The Madaba Mosaic Map is an index map of the region, dating from the sixth century AD, preserved in the floor of the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George. With two million pieces of colored stone, the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns in Palestine and the Nile Delta. The mosaic contains the earliest extant representation of Byzantine Jerusalem, labeled the "Holy City." The map provides important details as to its 6th century landmarks, with the central colonnaded street and the Holy Sepulcher clearly visible. This map is one key in developing scholarly knowledge about the physical layout of Jerusalem after its destruction and rebuilding in 70 AD.

Other mosaic masterpieces found in the Church of the Virgin and the Apostles and the Archaeological Museum, depict a profusion of flowers and plants, birds and fish, animals and exotic beasts, as well as scenes from mythology and everyday pursuits of hunting, fishing and farming. Hundred of other mosaics from the 5th through the 7th centuries are scattered throughout Madaba.

Since 1996, the University of Toronto has been excavating in Madaba. Focusing primarily on the west acropolis where an open field has allowed access to uncover the entire sequence of occupation at Madaba from the modern period down to the Early Bronze Age levels.
The most visible feature of this area is a 7.5 meter wide fortification wall built sometime in the 9th C. BC, with subsequent rebuilds throughout its history. There are also the remains of a well preserved Byzantine era house at the base of the fortification wall.