Wilson and Eleanor Myers

The Petra church. A mosaic carpet covers each aisle in Petra’s Byzantine-era church. Dating to the early sixth century A.D., the structure features three apses on its eastern wall (at top in photo); in front of the church’s western entrance stood an atrium. A hoard of 152 heavily charred papyri were discovered late in 1993 in a room adjacent to the northernmost apse.

In the northern aisle (left in photo), three rows of roundels depict native and exotic animals and various vessels and containers. The central panels in the southern aisle contain personifications of the seasons, the earth, the sea and wisdom. Flanking the central panels are depictions of animals and fish. The mosaics are remarkably well preserved; what damage there is may have been inflicted intentionally.