Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Madaba mosaic map

Photo by Kay of Musings
For ABC Wednesday M-Day let's look at the magnificent Madaba mosaic map.

Craftsmen made it from more than two million colored tesserae sometime between the years 542 and 570.
The photo above shows the surviving parts of the mosaic, in situ in the church in the Arab village of Medeba in Jordan, where it was rediscovered in 1892.
Kay, my friend in Hawaii, author of the fine blog Musings, was actually there and sent me this picture!
This photo shows our reproduction of the Jerusalem section of the map. It hangs near the Cardo in the Old City.

Yes, the same central Cardo that Israeli archaeologists in 1967 searched for and found (and later restored), based on this map! (It's the colonnaded road going across the map, starting at Damascus Gate on the left.)
This year archaeologists dug near the Jaffa Gate (at the bottom of the map) and were thrilled but not surprised to find the Decumanus (the Roman road which led up to the Cardo), shown with a sharp right angle here above.
And in 2006 my trowel was one of the lucky ones to first scrape through to the big beautiful paving stones of the Secondary Cardo (visible at the top of the map, its row of columns showing).

The Madaba mosaic is also a devotional map, so the most important church, the Holy Sepulchre, and also the Nea Church are distorted out of proportion to the rest of the city in order to show their conceptual importance for the Christians.

And naturally, the Byzantine Jerusalem depicted has the East on top.

Being the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land, the Madaba map is famous and beloved in our country and you find it on postcards, ceramics, and all kinds of souvenirs.

But a few days ago I had to laugh to find it on a kneeling cushion in St. George's Anglican Cathedral in east Jerusalem!
I could go on and on about the fascinating history and value of this map.

But I recommend you play around with your mouse on this great 3D map with overlays.
And you can see the Greek Orthodox church in Jordan where the mosaic resides at BiblePlaces.com.
The Franciscans have a virtual tour of the Madaba map, based on the book by Piccirillo.

Have fun!


Reader Wil said...

Lucky you, to be the first to scrape through to the big paving stones of the Secondary Cardo. What a find! This is all very interesting and this mozaic must have been a job excecuted painstakingly. Thanks for sharing.

RuneE said...

Maintenance must be meticulous :-)

Roger Owen Green said...

love the mosaic map!
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Nanka said...

Interesting read. Loved the mosaic map and the History behind it all.

Kay said...

Our Medeba experience is even more meaningful now that I've seen your post! I'm so glad you could use the photo. They did explain the mosaic to us when we were there, but you gave us a richer background.

Hels said...

Spouse and I went on a lecture tour inside the church of Madaba in Jordan. It was fantastic!

Cloudia said...

Thanks for opening this amazing treasure to us!

Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral


Pietro said...

Splendid. It's a pity that the mosaic map is not complete.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

What a wonderful thing! Beautiful, decorative, clever, and a great piece of history!

Oh behalf of the team, thanks for taking part in ABC Wednesday this week! :)

Dina said...

Shalom friends. Thanks for your observations.

Pietro, One reason the mosaic is not complete is that around the year 700 the conquering Umayyad rulers de-faced or had some "figural motifs" removed, i.e. those that were not in line with Islam, e.g. the scene of Jesus walking on water.

And then, around 746 the town of Madaba was largely leveled by an earthquake and was abandoned.

Wikipedia says "The mosaic was rediscovered in 1894, during the construction of a new Greek Orthodox church on the site of its ancient predecessor. In the following decades, large portions of the mosaic map were damaged by fires, activities in the new church and by the effects of moisture. In December 1964, the Volkswagen Foundation gave the Deutscher Verein für die Erforschung Palästinas 90,000 DM to save the mosaic."

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for your comment on Denmark. No we didn't find all of them on that beach, but a Danish friend of mine found the sea urchins in his field while ploughing it. The "rattle stone"however is from this island.

VP said...

I missed this when I was in Jordan because I arrived too late: I was very angry then... It's a beautiful map, but even something more.
Thanks for the link to the 3D map.

Sara said...

What a treat to be involved in excavating the Decumanus! Having walked the Cardo and also having seen this Madaba map, I am remembering it all with the aid of your post today.

Anonymous said...

I love all the photos and you have a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing!

Pietro said...

Many thanks for the information, Dina. To know more about the Madaba mosaic map is so interesting.

Francisca said...

What an interesting and wonderful mosaic.