Umm ar-Rasas, Madaba

4.1
#4 of 8 in Historic Sites in Madaba
Umm ar-Rasas is located 30 km southeast of Madaba, which is the capital city of the Madaba Governorate in central Jordan. It was once accessible by branches of the King's Highway, and is situated in the semi-arid steppe region of the Jordanian Desert. The site has been allied to the biblical settlement of Mephaat mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah. The Roman military utilized the site as a strategic garrison, but it was later converted and inhabited by Christian and Islamic communities. In 2004, the site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is valued by archaeologists for its extensive ruins dating to the Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim periods. Studium Biblicum Franciscanum carried out excavations at the north end of the site in 1986, but much of the area remains buried under debris.
Particularly during the epochs of the Early Bronze Age III-IV, Iron Age II, and Roman-Byzantine eras, dense populations inhabited the topographical regions beyond the western banks of the Dead Sea. Among these ancient settlements, the site of Mephaat has been mentioned in biblical texts as one of the cities upon the plateau to be condemned to great destruction (Jeremiah 48:21). Many branches of the King's Highway provided a means for reaching the more remote ancient cities, but the main route served as the forerunner for the Via Traiana Nova built by the Roman Emperor Trajan (53-117 A.D.). This road with its many branches facilitated travel, and Roman military encampments were set in place along the way as a defensive measure against barbarian assaults across the Roman desert frontier known as the Limes Arabicus. Eusebius of Caesarea identified Mephaat as the camp site of a Roman army near the desert in his Onomasticon (K.128:21). Also, the excavation of a Byzantine church here exposed an inscription naming the area as "Castron Mephaa" further supporting the theory that Umm-ar Rasas and the biblical Mephaat are one in the same.
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Umm ar-Rasas Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
172 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • Place is nice, but stuff is the reason that I am writing a review. Polite, not pushy, informative and culture people. They are representing Jordan and Um er-Rasas in the best way.  more »
  • The site overall is well-signposted which makes exploring on your own satisfying. But, the highlight for sure is the extensive, well-preserved mosaic floor of the church under the large (ugly) hangar....  more »
Google
  • Great locating which should be more investigated. I think that there is a lot of things that are waiting to be discovered in this location. On our trip, we had enough time to check this location, and we like it.
  • Hidden treasure where not many people are aware of. The second biggest mosaic in the world is right there!! Highly recommended
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