March 24, 2013

0574 JORDAN - Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a) (UNESCO WHS)

Located south-east of Madaba, on the edge of the semi-arid steppe, Um er-Rasas is an archeological site, largely unexcavated, which started as a Roman military camp and grew to become a town from the 5th century. It contains remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods (end of 3rd to 9th centuries AD) including a fortified Roman military camp and sixteen churches, some with well-preserved mosaic floors, the best known being the one of the Church of St Stephen, made in 785 and illustrating the most important cities of the region.

In ancient times, it was a Moabite town called Kastron Mefaa. The prophet Jeremiah mentioned the city (as Mephaath), and the 4th-century church historian Eusebius recorded that a Roman army unit was stationed here. Two square towers were probably used by stylite hermits (pillar-saints), a type of Christians ascetics appeared in the early days of the Byzantine Empire. They stood on pillars preaching, fasting and praying, believing that the mortification of their bodies would help ensure the salvation of their souls. The first stylite was probably Simeon Stylites the Elder, who climbed on a pillar in Syria in 423 and remained there until his death 37 years later.

UNESCO, which included the site on his list of World Heritage Sites, under the name Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a), notes that these towers are "probably the only remains of the practice." They are solid inside except for a small room at the top. The east face has a carved niche and the remaining sides are carved with Greek crosses. Near the towers are various ruins, include a little church with an apse (east of the tower).

About the stamp

The stamp is part of a wonderful series with flowers, issued on November 15, 2008, and comprising the following stamps:
• Egyptian Catchfly (0.05 JOD)
• Lupine (0.10 JOD)
• Judean Viper’s Bugloss (0.15 JOD)
• Pimpernel (0.20 JOD)
• Asiatic Crowfoot (0.30 JOD)
• Grape Hyacinth (0.40 JOD)
• Large Flowered Sage (0.50 JOD)
• Star of Bethlehem (0.60 JOD)
• Pyramidalis (0.80 JOD) - it’s on this postcard
• Calotropis (1.00 JOD) - it’s on other postcard
• Cyclamen (0.50 JOD)

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #115, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is Pink. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a) - UNESCO official website
Umm al-Rasas - Sacred Destinations
Um er-Rasas - Madaba Tourism Development & Heritage Preservation Association
Flowers - Stamps of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

sender: Mervat Salman (direct swap)
sent from Amman (Jordan), on 19.01.2013
photo: Mohsen Ulama


  1. The Pyramidalis is a beautiful stamp, so eye-catching.

  2. I don't have any stamps or cards from Jordan, let alone such a lovely one.

  3. I agree with Sheila. These are lovely stamps, and I do not have any stamps from this country.
    Thank you for participating.

  4. Jordan has some marvellous ancient sites, lovely flower stamps.

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