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Motoring through Madaba via the Africa Overland ’08 Express

Africa Overland 08 - Madaba CampsiteWow, what a great way to spend one’s retirement, seeing the world through a VW Camper with stops all through Jordan, including the city of mosaics known as Madaba. At least that’s the last known location of Gary and Joan who stopped to write and post a photo or three over on their blog Africa Overland 08.

I’m so jealous. They get to spend a few days in a city in which I’ve only been afforded a few hours.

Only 30 miles south of Amman, Madaba’s history dates back at least 3500 years, and perhaps into the Neolithic period. Madaba, which was known in the Bible as the Moabite town of Medaba, is mentioned in the Old Testament account of Moses and the Exodus (Numbers 21:30).

King David is also mentioned near this location in I Chronicles 19:7 as this where he vanquished an Ammonite and Aramean coalition.

Today, Madaba is most famous for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, the most notable being that which adorns the floor of the Church of St. George in the middle of town. The church is open to the public every day 08:30-18:00, except for Friday and Sunday when it is open 10:30-18:00 (don’t forget to stop by a small wooden donation box to help out the poor and needy).

This Mosaic Map of Palestine represents the Holy Land and its surrounding regions. Clearly visible on the map are al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dead Sea, the Jordan River, Nablus, al-Khalil (Hebron), Ariha (Jericho), Egypt and the Nile River, Turkey and Lebanon.

The mosaic was made around 560 CE, originally composed of over 2.3 million pieces, and measured a staggering 25 by 5 meters. It is thought that 11,500 man-hours would have been required to lay the entire mosaic.

And while I’m guessing that Gary and Joan will likely blog next from Petra and Aqaba as they continue to journey towards South Africa, I should probably get busying getting online the many photos I have of the famous roped-off mosaic at the aforementioned Greek Orthodox church – some of which were taken from directly overhead as I extended a camera over it via an omni-pod.

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