Church of St. Stephen at Kastron Mefa'a
Date: 718 and 756
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Jordan
Description: Excavation work at the ruins of Kastron Mefa'a (now Umm er-Rasas, Jordan) has focused on the church of St. Stephen and the surrounding buildings (including other churches) and courtyards. The mosaic floor in the nave of the Church of St. Stephen, repaved in 718 and 756 according to inscriptions, is well known for its representations of cities in the region. Among others, the miniature walled cities, labeled in Greek, include Madaba, Philadelphia, Jerusalem, Nablus, Caesarea, and Gaza. In one of the images included here, you can see Kastron Mefa'a itself included among the miniature cities (labeled "ΚΑϹΤΡΟΝ ΜΕΦΑΑ"). The date of these mosaics reveals that work on churches continued in Jordan after the Muslim conquest. Animals and human figures in the mosaic, for instance in hunting and fishing scenes, show signs of deliberate vandalism, possibly from iconophobic Christians.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 4
Repository and Online Resources: • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Page for Kastron Mefa'a, listed as Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a). • Listen to a short podcast by Prof. Marcus Milwright about iconoclasm at Kastron Mefa'a.
Image Credits: Juergen Ritterbach/Alamy Stock Photo, Wikimedia Commons
Tags: Status and identity, Artistic production, Connections to the past, Ideology, Greek, Iconoclasm, Christian, Late Antique, Western Asian, Byzantine, Mediterranean, Works in textbook