The Petra Church ruins were first detected in 1973, during a sub-surface survey directed by Dr. Philip C. Hammond of the University of Utah. At that time, many of Petra’s sites were completely buried beneath desert sand and rubble debris. By 1990, ACOR archaeologist Kenneth W. Russell was able to identify the building as a Byzantine Era Church. When he began clearing debris from the floor, he immediately noted the importance of preserving the abundant mosaic tile tesserae.
The design of the mosaic on the north side is composed of a pattern called an inhabited vine scroll in which vine tendrils emerge from a vase at the western end and form frames for medallions which include pairs of animals as well as six human figures. The human figures show the mastery of the mosaicists in creating the faces with very small tesserae.
These mosaic tiles have been “adopted” by private donors. In the North Aisle, donors generously contributed $1000 per medallion to conserve the unique mosaic designs. To read more about the many people who have donated to this campaign (often making their contributions in honor of loved ones), please see the link below. Thanks to our generous donors, ACOR was able to implement a long-term preservation plan for the site involving archaeological excavation, conservation and stabilization, and finally the construction of a protective shelter.
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