Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bethany beyond the Jordan and Madaba, Jordan (April 13, 2008)

Bethany beyond the Jordan is the location along the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The remains of John the Baptist Church, built in the 6th century by Emporer Anastasius, have been excavated on what is believed to be the actual baptism site.

Today, the Jordan River marks the border between Jordan and Israel, and from where we were in Jordan, the West Bank was only a short wade away. Our visit to Bethany beyond the Jordan involved passing through two armed security checkpoints and a military escort at the river's edge.

Madaba is a town just south of Amman known for its numerous intricate Byzantine-era mosaics. The most famous of Madaba's mosaics is a 6th century map of the Holy Land, with all the major Biblical sites from Lebanon to Egypt. Madaba is also home to a unique Mosaic School, which trains technicians in the art of mosaic restoration and conservation.

The remains of the 6th century John the Baptist Church, believed to mark the actual baptism site of Jesus
Here I am dipping my hand in the Jordan River, not far from where John the Baptist baptised Jesus
Madaba's famous Mosaic Map, which dates to approximately 560 AD. The original map measured 16 by six meters and was made from two million stone pieces, probably taking six years to complete. The map was originally built on the floor of a Byzantine church; today, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George is built upon the remains of the original church. In this photo, you can see the walled city of Jerusalem in the lower right hand corner, with the Jordan River flowing into the Dead Sea in the top half.
A beautiful mosaic in the Madaba Archaelogical Park
Mosaic restoration in progress at the Madaba Mosaic School
This woman runs her own small business in Madaba selling mosaics that she and her sons make by hand

No comments: