Madaba Archaeological Park West is home to a wide variety of archaeological and cultural heritage monuments. Pottery excavated for the site dates back to Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, Mamluke, and Late Ottoman periods. However, there is evidence the area was first settled during the Bronze Age and occupied during the Iron Age as a Moabite City. During the Hellenist Period, a small village was established. However, during the second century AD, this village blossomed into a true city. 

The site’s oldest portion hails from the Roman era, exhibiting stretches of the Roman Road. The Byzantine period, which followed the Roman era, is the most represented with the Burnt Palace, the Church of the Martyrs, and the Virgin’s Church. There was also considerable Islamic expansion during the seventh and eighth centuries AD. However, following this period of epansion the site was largely abandoned up untill the 19th century when Christians settled in the area.

Remnants of this area include a complex of Ottoman homes, which will be conserved and refurbished to contain the future Madaba Regional Museum. Other artifacts such as mosaic pavements made of large white tesserae provide proof that there was a Late/ Byzantine/Early Islamic phase. 

Madaba is known as the city of mosaics, which can be easily seen throuhout the Archaeological Park as well as the surrounding area. The archaeological park is also a strong capsul showing the long, rich, and diverse history and occupation of the area. 

Proposed Intervention :

USAID SCHEP is partnering with MRAMP to support their creation of a new Madaba Regional Museum. The first step of this process is cleaning, conserving and restoring the Archaeological Park West, which has provited seven full time employment opportunities and nine professional development opportunities. USAID SCHEP and MRAMP are working to refurbish the currently existing building to act as a museum, research facility, and training facility. 

Another key component of the project is properly documenting, preserving, and transfering the objects currently housed in the existing museum. So far, MRAMP has hired two women from Madaba to begin this process and they have worked through some 14,000 objects. 

One of the key components of any USAID SCHEP sites is community engagement, specifically to strengthen the local communities cultural identity by creating a connection between them and the site. USAID SCHEP and MRAMP are training members of the local community and Department of Antiquities staff in museum development, management, and sustainability, through workshops and training seminars on conservation, preservation, presentation, museum management and upkeep. The community’s involvement will help to present Jordan’s cultural heritage and richness in historical-archeology, while also benefiting the local region through increased employment.

Local Community:

Madaba lies just 30km south of Amman, surrounded by rolling planes. At nearly 200,000 residents, it is the fifth most populous city in Jordan with a mixed Muslim and Christian demographics.

Although Madaba dates back as far as 840BCE, to the Moab civilization, the contemporary history of the area begins in the late 19th century when families from Karak arrived in the area. In 1880 AD, Arabic tribes from Karak migrated to Madaba to escape draught, persecution, and dwindling economic opportunities.

Madaba is sometimes referred to as the City of Mosaics because of the discovery of mosaics from the Roman, Byantine, and Islamic periods. Perhaps the most famous of these is simply knows as the Madaba Mosaic Map, which is the olderst surviging cartographic depiction of the Holy Land. It dates from 560-565 and shows the geographic features and cities reaching all the way to the Nile Delta.

The city has long had respect for its rich cultural heritage and is currently home to the Mosaic School of Madaba. Under the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the school trains artisans in the art of making, repairing and restoring mosaics. Also Madaba Tourism Association plans to train handcrafters in Madaba on research, designing skills, and offer new sellable designs, in addition to communication skills to strengthen the vision and image of Madaba as the City of Mosaics and Handicrafts.

Project Do-Directors: Dr. Suzanne Richard and Dr. Douglas Clark