We departed Bethany and headed to Madaba to see its famous floor mosaic, the Madaba Map. We entered the early Bysantine church of Saint George where, in a renovation in 1884, the map depicting Jerusalem and the New Church of the Theotokos was uncovered and restored. The meticulously constructed mosaic map made of tiny stones was likely created by the Christian community of Madaba sometime between 542 and 570AD. It is one of the oldest surviving original cartographic depictions of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
While the map today is only ⅓ of its original size (the remaining having been destroyed through the centuries) our guide highlighted the accuracy of the scale and dimension of the remaining portion. At one time the map, containing more than 2M pieces, contained 157 captions of major biblical sites from Lebanon to Egypt all depicted at an exact scale.
From Saint George we walked across the street to a local restaurant for an authentic shawarma sandwich. Much to our surprise, the owner stepped out (after hearing us talking) and in a Texas accent introduced himself and explained that he had secured his PhD from the University of Texas. He had married a Jordanian woman and was now residing in Madaba. After introductions and our astonishment at meeting a Texan in the middle of Jordan he explained that the shawarma sandwich originated from Turkey in the 18th or 19th century. The bread is a soft puffy flat bread which is wrapped around your choice of spiral roasted meats. After slicing thin cuts of vertically roasting lamb, chicken, beef, or mixed meats it is packed into the flat bread and rolled with vegetables and your sauce of choice. It was delicious!
Following lunch we stopped at the Madaba Archeological Park to see the mosaic floor of the Church of St. Elijah. A beautiful tree of life was depicted within the floor’s design and we quickly began to see the tree of life symbol in the mosaic work of the area. After a stop at Mount Nebo to see the Memorial to Moses where it is believed Moses viewed the “Promised Land” of Israel we made our way to the Tree of Life Cooperative to view the mosaic artists at work.
We were fascinated to learn how the mosaic process worked – from the design to the hand chiseling of the stone pieces, to the mounting, and the finishing into works of art or furniture. After placing our orders for pieces to be made and shipped to the US we loaded into our vehicle for the journey to our Petra hotel.
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.