Wilson and Eleanor Myers/Acor

Discovered b archaeologist Kenneth W. Russell in 1990, Petra’s sixth-century A.D. Church of St. Mary is one of the few surviving relics of Byzantine Petra. The church itself was consumed in a fire, probably sometime in the seventh century A.D., but its mosaic floor is almost perfectly preserved. In the northern aisle of the church (at left in the photo), three rows of roundels depict an assortment of animals, vessels and containers. The central panels lining the southern (right) aisle feature personifications of the seasons, the earth, the sea and wisdon. Flanking these panals are two more rows of roundels depicting animals and fish. In 1993 the church yielded a second, perhaps even more valuable treasure, when scholars found a hoard of papyrus scrolls inside a storeroom adjoining its northernmost apse.