The Madaba Map

The highlight of my short time in Jordan was the biblical town of Madaba. While mentioned in the Bible, today Madaba is best-known for having a large Christian population and for its Roman and Byzantine era mosaics, bruh. More on the Roman mosaics in another post. This one is all about the town’s treasure — the Madaba Map from the 6th Century CE.


It’s your boi Mr. Kent in front of the oldest known map of the Holy Land, St. George’s Church Madaba, Jordan!

In addition to being the oldest map showing Jerusalem (just over my left shoulder), the map, know as the Madaba Map, also depicts the River Jordan, a small stretch of which can be seen over my right shoulder (the small blue arc that disappears into my temple) and the Dead Sea (over my left shoulder), in which you can see two boats.


Above, a closer look at the Dead Sea in the Madaba Map.


Above, a clearer shot of the River Jordan, top left, draining into the Dead Sea, top right. Right smack in the middle is Jerusalem, depicted by lots of buildings, not by a dot like cities on maps today. Just to the right (South) of Jerusalem are a few houses representing the town of Bethlehem.

My favorite part was the Nile delta, shown below. I wasn’t expecting to see it, so it was a reminder of how important of a geographic feature it was, and still is, and as a reminder of the closeness of so many ancient cultures. We study them in separate units as distinct from each other, but they were interconnected — there was lots of cultural diffusion going on!


Above — humble St. George’s Church, where the Madaba Map was discovered by workers in the early 19th Century who were building new homes. The Madaba Map, btw, was made in the year 560 CE. Who knows what else is hidden out there!

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