The city of Mosaic
The rambling modern face of Madaba, situated some 30 km south of ‘Amman, belies the fact that it is the site of a very ancient settlement, which occupied a tell (an artificial mound), which stands out above the surrounding fertile plains.
Referred to in the Bible as Medeba in its account of Moses and the Exodus (Num. 21:30; Josh. 13:9), Madaba was a Moabite town near the borders of Ammon, which tended to change hands from time to time when captured by the Amorites or Israelites. It was one of several towns mentioned in the Mesha stele, or Moabite stone, which recorded the achievements of Mesha, king of Moab in the mid-9th century BC. It tells of his recapture of Madaba (and other places) from the Israelites and its rebuilding. Later Madaba became part of the Nabataean kingdom and, after the 106 AD Roman annexation; it was a thriving provincial town in the Province of Arabia, adorned with fine buildings, temples and colonnaded streets.