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In the western part of the Archaeological Park there are two outstanding cultural heritage sites of Madaba: The mosaics of the Burnt Palace, a Byzantine residence from the end of the 6th / beginning of the 7th century, burnt down probably during the earthquake of 747. And the Church of the Holy Martyrs, called by the locals Church of al-Khadir, a 6th century basilica with a large mosaic floor.
Remains of a luxurious Byzantine residence, with rooms and corridors, porticos and outdoor courtyards, built at the end of the 6th / beginning of the 7th century, most probably for the priest of the nearby Martyrs' Church. The structure continued to be used throughout the Umayyad period and beyond.
Archaeologists found several signs of fire which caused partial damage to the structure. The fire could have been triggered by the earthquake of 747 that resulted in the destruction of the building as well. The construction of a modern house towards the turn of the 20th century caused further damage to the site and its mosaics.
What remains of the mosaics of the Burnt Palace contains remarkable and exquisite examples of Byzantine design. These include geometric patterns of interlacing circles, loops and indented squares, the personification of the season, and the bust of Tyche wearing a turreted crown.
As there are no permanent sources of water in or near Madaba, water was collected and stored in cisterns. In Byzantine times the inhabitants restored and reused the Roman cisterns. One example is a cistern within the complex of the Burnt Palace. There are also traces of water drainage channels within the premises of this unique residential complex.
See the mosaics and more details in our photo tour.
(From information on site)
The Church of the Holy Martyrs, known by the local Christians as the Church of al-Khadir, is located on the south side of the paved Roman street. It was excavated by the German Evangelical Institute in 1966, and later on further excavations have been done by other archaeologists.
Dated to the 6th century, the basilica of 32 x 16 m had three doors on the facade. The bases and columns, as well as the capitals and the steps of the synthronon [semicircular bench in the apse for the clergy], are re-used from older Roman buildings. Two rows of ten columns and two pilasters each separate the central nave, tapering to the east, from the side naves. The presbyterium, which is two steps higher than the nave and enclosed by a chancel screen, extends into the nave as far as the third pair of columns.
The mosaic had already been damaged in earlier times and suffered further damage during the excavation. In spite of iconoclastic mutilation of the mosaic floor which was repaired by filling the holes with lime mortar, the decoration is still legible in its general outlines and in many of its motifs.
For more information and details see our photo tour.
In the historic centre of Madaba, a preserved portion of a road and other ruins from Roman times, some excellent mosaics of the Byzantine era, and several Ottoman buildings have been integrated into an archaeological park, divided in two sections by the Al-Amir Hasan street. The entrance to the larger eastern area is just a few metres from the city's visitor centre.
The project was initiated in 1991 by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan, the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Extensive excavations, restoration works, as well as the renovation of late Ottoman houses were carried out simultaneously.
In tune with the historical character of the area, the Jordanian architect Ammar Khammash designed a protection building for the precious mosaics of St. Mary's Church and the Hippolytus Hall. Attached to the shelter is an arcaded open gallery with mosaics from the region on display.
On November 12th November 1995, the Madaba Archaeological Park was officially inaugurated by Queen Noor. One year later, the Madaba Mosaic School was established at the eastern end of the Roman road, extended in 2007 to become the Madaba Institute for Mosaic Art and Restoration (MIMAR).
More about the Archaeological Park and the individual mosaics in our informative photo tours.
Madaba Archaeological Park 2
Entrance from Al Hussein bin Ali Street
Location on map
Summer 8 am - 6:30 pm
Nov. - April 8 am - 4 pm
April and May 8 am - 5:30 pm
Ramadan 8 am - 3:30 pm
(Information without guarantee, times may change)
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Compilation of information, editing, translations, photos: Universes in Universe, unless otherwise indicated.
From Medieval Greek = icon / to break
Rejection or destruction of religious images or sacred objects.
During the Byzantine Empire the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Eastern Church. A widespread destruction of images and persecution of image veneration supporters took place. The first phase lasted from 730-787.
In Jordan, human and animal images were deliberately destroyed in the mosaics of a considerable number of Byzantine churches. This occurred not because the images were venerated, but rather because of the objection to any depiction of living beings.
The area of modern Jordan, previously part of the Byzantine Empire, became integrated into the Umayyad Empire (the first Muslim dynasty) in the early 7th century. For this reason some attribute the iconoclastic activities to an edict issued by the Umayyad caliph Yazid II (720-724). But its authenticity is questioned, and it is not mentioned in any early Arabic sources.
Often destruction and repair were done simultaneously: the plucked out tesserae were carefully reinserted as pixelated blurs, which indicates a procedure done by the local Christian communities themselves. Therefore, it is likely that the defacement of living beings was a consequence of the socio-religious environment of those communities, and the continued polemics, and persistent criticism from different groups (incl. Muslims, Jews and Christian groups) during that time.