One of the great things about us travelling all over Jordan with an experienced tour guide was that he took us to so many sites we would never have heard of or thought to visit. Case in point: The St. George’s Church in Madaba is a rather modest 19th-century Greek Orthodox church but houses a true treasure of early Christianity.
As he described: “Imagine the excitement in 1884 when Christian builders came across the remnants of a Byzantine church on their construction site. Among the rubble, having survived wilful destruction, fire and neglect, the flooring they discovered wasn’t just another mosaic but one with extraordinary significance: to this day, it represents the oldest map of Palestine in existence and provides many historical insights into the region. Crafted in AD 560, the map has 157 captions (in Greek) depicting all the major biblical sites of the Middle East, from Egypt to Palestine. It was originally around 15m to 25m long and 6m wide, and once contained more than two million pieces. Although much of the mosaic has been lost, enough remains to sense the complexity of the whole.”