According to the Bible, Moses lived to be 120 years old. The first third of his life was spent in Egypt as the son of the Pharoah, when the Queen rescued him from a basket floating in the water. The second third of his life was when he discovered he was a Jew and left Egypt. The last third was when God called him to return to Egypt and free his people. Then came the plagues, and you know the rest. In that last third, Moses came to here, to Mt Nebo, where God showed him the Promised Land. This was Moses’ last station in life which is why this place is so spiritual and historical.
After the death of Jesus, the Romans outlawed Christianity for over 300 years, until the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great decriminalized Christianity and Christian churches could finally built, and worshipping in secret ended. This is when this church was originally built around 4th century foundations in 537AD.
Over time, this church was abandoned in the 16th century. In 1933, this land belonged to a private Arab owner, who gifted it to the Franciscans, who began excavating the remains of the church.
What they found were beautiful, intricate mosaic floors made of semi-precious stones of turquoise, lapis, onyx, quartz, throught the entire church.
In 2008, the church was closed again for more excavations for the next ten years. It only reopened a few months ago, so we are among the first to see what they discovered.
I didn’t quite catch it a few days ago when our tour guide Wally said his professor was part of the team that discovered the John the Baptist site, and now, he’s telling us that he was part of the excavation team for this Moses Mt. Nebo Memorial. He was a graduate in archeology!
Long ago, it was thought by some that looking at images of animals and figures was not honoring God, so the original mosaics that included such figures were hidden beneath a false floor. The exposed mosaics were only patterns and designs…no figures. Look what they uncovered!!
See the large white stones on the left and right edges? Those were the support stones for the mosaic floor that hid this beautiful floor mosaic. The floor which hid this mosaic beneath it was mounted much higher. I can’t even believe what it must have felt like to be part of a team to discover this, which is in perfect condition from the 4th century! Our tour guide is a real Indiana Jones! This mosaic is huge.
We are near the town of Madaba, just a short drive from Moses’ memorial. Once Christianity became public, churches were built everywhere, and like the Moses memorial, they all had mosaic floors. This town is heavily Christian, with many having moved here because of the hugely significant, religious events happening at the time in this area. What these Christians did, was build their homes on the ruins of the churches. Everyone’s home in Madaba, therefore has a mosaic floor!! Are you kidding me?! We are going to visit one such house.
This owner keeps his mosaic floor in a separate building and let’s visitors come and see it for a small price.
In the town of Madaba, there is a mosaic workshop which allows people to come and train for a job making mosaics to keep the craft alive. They also sell all the mosaics so you can buy one to take home.
It’s amazing to think that making mosaics in this part of the world goes all the way back to the year 500AD. Another mind-blowing day in the Holy Land.