The rambling modern appearance of Madaba,a mainly Christian twon 33km south of Amman,misleads the fact that it is a very ancient settlement which occupied an artificial mound,or tell,rising above the tableland.At the time of the Exodus,Madaba was then an Amorite town close to the Moab border,and it changed hands frequently. It was named in the famous Mesha stele,or Moabite stone,which recorded the achievments of Mesha,King of Moab in the mid-ninth centuryBC-one of which was to regain Madaba from the Israelites.In the Hellesentic period,and under the Romans,it was a flourishing provincial town with temples and colonnadded streets and surrounded by a strong wall.

Under the Byzantine Madaba became the seat of Bishopric,andd in 451 its bishop attended the Council of Chalcedon.During this period,and particulary in the sixth century,mosaics were lavished on churches and public and private buildings.Most famuos is the wonderful,if fragmentary,map of Palestine and Jordan in the Greek Orthodox Church of St George.It includes a fascinating plan of Jerusalem:on the left is the north gate from which two colonnaded streets run south.On the straight street through the heart of the city stands the domed Holy Sepulchre.Clearly inscribed above the north and east gates is the legend'Holy city of Jerusa[lem]'.

Madaba was sacked by the Persians in AD614,and its ruin was completed by the earthquake of 747.It stood abandoned for over 1000 years until,around 1880,a group of about 2000 Christians from Kerak settled here.It was them,in the process of rebuilding,who found the mosaics buried under the rubble.


On the Hills of Moab,is the place where Moses looked over the land of Canaan which God had forbidden him to enter.And here where its said that Moses died and was burried.On the top of that hill,there was a small church looked after by some 'holy men',and where some Chrisrian pilgrims used to come and visit that church.

Excavations at Siyagha on the highest ridge of Mount Nebo,have revealed a cluster of monastic buildings around a sixth century basilica church.Within the church are the remains of an earlier chapel,and a second or third century AD structure,the earliest on the site,which may have been a mausoleum.Since 1976 several mosaics have been found,including a magnificent and very large pavement with vivid representations of people and animals.
 Map page
 Home page