The Roman ruins of Jerash, the Golan Heights in the far north and the Qasr Amra hunting lodge in the desert some 60 kilometres west of Amman just off the road to Iraq all came very close to ousting Petra in my popularity stakes. It seemed every tiny corner of Jordan held tantalizing treasures just waiting for the avid traveller to find.
|Inside the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George|
In the past you and I would have walked right across and over its most precious asset, a masterpiece of design; today it is roped off to the visiting public. This greatest treasure lay clearly visible on the floor of the church; a 6th century mosaic map, rich in colour and crammed with minute detail representing the world as the people of that time knew it.
|Plan of Jerusalem in the Mosaic Map of Madaba|
Only part of the map has survived; originally it measured a staggering 25 x 5 meters and comprised more than 2 million pieces of coloured stone tesserae. The map showed the entire region from Jordan to Palestine in the north and to Egypt in the south. In picture form it included plains, hills, valleys, villages, towns and cities with city walls and even partially built houses, palm trees and fish swimming through the Nile River.