Garo Nalbandian

The Madaba mosaic, the earliest known map of Jerusalem. Located in a church in Madaba, Jordan, this famous map depicts the walled city of Jerusalem as it appeared in the sixth century. The city is bisected by a long street lined with columns represented as if they were lying on their sides. At the far left of the street, which divides the map horizontally, is a black column that probably once supported a statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian. At the far right of this street stand two red-roofed structures. The larger one, on the left, with yellow doors and pediment, is the great rectangular Hagia Sion basilica, which soon after 415 A.D. apparently replaced the fourth-century octagonal memorial church of Theodosius I. Adjacent to its right, the smaller structure with a white door is the Church of the Apostles.

The Hagia Sion basilica was badly damaged by the Persians during their invasion in 614, but then rebuilt. In 1009, Hakim, the Fatimid sultan of Egypt, again partially destroyed the basilica. When the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem in 1099, the once magnificent Hagia Sion lay in ruins. On the southern part of these ruins of Hagia Sion, the Crusaders built a new church during the first decade of the 12th century and named it St. Mary of Mt. Zion in memory of the tradition that Mary had lived on Mt. Zion after Jesus’ resurrection and had died there.