Jordània, dia 2: d’Amman a la Mar Morta (29 de desembre de 2017) (X)


The Madaba Mosaic Map depicts Jerusalem with the Nea Church, which was dedicated on the 20th of November, AD 542. Buildings erected in Jerusalem after 570 are absent from the depiction, thus limiting the date range of its creation to the period between 542 and 570. The mosaic was made by unknown artists, probably for the Christian community of Madaba, which was the seat of a bishop at that time. In 614, Madaba was conquered by the Persian empire. In the 8th century AD, the Muslim Umayyad rulers had some figural motifs removed from the mosaic. In 746, Madaba was largely destroyed by an earthquake and subsequently abandoned. The mosaic was rediscovered in 1884, 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 VolkswagenFoundation gave the Deutscher Verein für die Erforschung Palästinas ("German Society for the exploration of Palestine") 90,000 DM to save the mosaic. In 1965, the archaeologists Heinz Cüppers and Herbert Donner undertook the restoration and conservation of the remaining parts of the mosaic.
The floor mosaic is located in the apse of the church of Saint George at Madaba. It is not oriented northwards, like modern maps, but faces east towards the altar in such a fashion that the position of places on the map coincides with the actual compass directions. Originally, it measured 21 by 7 m and contained over two million tesserae. Its current dimensions are 16 by 5 m.
The mosaic map depicts an area from Lebanon in the north to the Nile Delta in the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Eastern Desert. Among other features, it depicts the Dead Sea with two fishing boats, a variety of bridges linking the banks of the Jordan, fish swimming in the river and receding from the Dead Sea; a lion (rendered nearly unrecognisable by the insertion of random tesserae during a period of iconoclasm) hunting a gazelle in the Moab desert, palm-ringed JerichoBethlehem and other biblical-Christian sites. The map may partially have served to facilitate pilgrims' orientation in the Holy Land. All landscape units are labelled with explanations in Greek. A combination of folding perspective and aerial view depicts about 150 towns and villages, all of them labelled.
The largest and most detailed element of the topographic depiction is Jerusalem, at the centre of the map. The mosaic clearly shows a number of significant structures in the Old City of Jerusalem: the Damascus Gate, the Lions' Gate, the Golden Gate, the Zion Gate, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the New Church of the Theotokos, the Tower of David and the Cardo Maximus. The recognisable depiction of the urban topography makes the mosaic a key source on Byzantine Jerusalem. Also unique are the detailed depictions of cities such as NeapolisAskalonGazaPelusium and Charachmoba, all of them nearly detailed enough to be described as street maps.
The mosaic map of Madaba is the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history. It is of major use for the localisation and verification of biblical sites. Study of the map played a major role in answering the question of the topographical location of Askalon (Asqalan on the map). In 1967, excavations in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem revealed the Nea Church and the Cardo Maximus in the very locations suggested by the Madaba Map.
In February 2010, excavations further substantiated its accuracy with the discovery of a road depicted in the map that runs through the center of Jerusalem. According to the map, the main entrance to the city was through a large gate opening into a wide central street. Until now, archaeologists were not able to excavate this site due to heavy pedestrian traffic. In the wake of infrastructure work near the Jaffa Gate, large paving stones were discovered at a depth of 4 meters below ground that prove such a road existed.
A copy of the map is in the collection of the Archaeological Institute at Göttingen University. It was produced during the conservation work at Madaba in 1965 by archaeologists of the Rheinisches LandesmuseumTrier. A copy produced by students of the Madaba Mosaic School is in the foyer of the Akademisches Kunstmuseum at Bonn. The lobby of the YMCA in Jerusalem has a replica of the map incorporated in the floor.
Com que no hi ha gaire res més per veure, ja marxem cap al bus, però ens parem a comprar en una botiga que ens recomana el guia, a on comprem unes nines de drap beduïnes molt boniques i molt bé de preu.  
La següent parada del dia ja serà per dinar. I de camí, continuen les interessants explicacions. Per exemple, la vida a Jordània. El sou mínim és de 250 euros, però la majoria de gent  cobra entre 400 i 500 euros. El preu del lloguer de l’habitatge és car,  i entre això i les despeses, un sou marxa. Normalment treballen els dos membres de la parella i el que queda de sou és per menjar, que tampoc és barat. Per exemple, un litre d’oli d’oliva jordà pot arribar a valer 9 euros. També ens explica que ara tenen molts refugiats sirians, que han de lluitar per tirar endavant i que accepten treballar per menys sou, cosa que fa pujar els índexs d’atur. Ell ho entén, ja que explica que ho passen molt malament. Admet que cuines millor que els jordans i que són millors en diverses coses, fet que els facilita tirar endavant.
Amb tot, ja arribem al lloc a on dinarem, que alhora és també un gran centre de souvenirs. Allí s’hi fan mosaics i ens expliquen que ho fan a mà. Primer fan el dibuix i després, mica en mica, hi van posant trossets de pedra que van trencant i els van enganxant amb una mena de cola feta a base d’aigua i farina. Això ho deixen assecar i després hi posen cola definitiva i ho poleixen. La veritat és que hi ha moltíssima feina en fer-ho! També hi ha una tècnica més moderna que consisteix en usar pedres més grans i enganxar-ho directament amb cola.
El preu dels mosaics no és barat, però en comprem un de petit com a record. A la botiga els preus són desorbitats, així que desisitim de fer més compres i ja esperem que sigui l’hora de dinar. El guia ha trucat i ens ha reservat al Hekayet Nebo (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g293989-d7654267-Reviews-Hekayet_Nebo_Restaurant-Madaba_Madaba_Governorate.html ). Allí ens distribuïm i ens asseiem al costat d’un matrimoni molt simpàtic de la plana de Vic, la Mercè i l’Eudald. Ella va estudiar turisme per poder voltar món i ell va treballar a Hidroelèctrica. Han voltat molt pel món i em vénen moltes ganes de conèixer llocs inhòspits que ens expliquen.  El dinar transcorre enmig d’una conversa molt agradable i amb abundant menjar,  massa. Hi ha moltes coses locals, com ara humus i pa de pita. Però sóc del tot incapaç d’acabar-me el gran plat de menjar que em posen com a segon plat. Tot i que faig figa, puc assaborir una mica de postres, una espècie de pannetone amb festucs.  
(Continuarà)
(La fotografia, de nou, és de la posta de sol a la Mar Morta)

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