Al Maghtas World Heritage Site

Archaeological site

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Native name
Arabic: المغطس
Bethany (5).JPG
Excavation of baptism site
LocationBalqa Governorate, Jordan
Coordinates31°50′14″N 35°33′01″E / 31.837109°N 35.550301°E / 31.837109; 35.550301
Al-Maghtas is located in Jordan
Location of Al-Maghtas in Jordan
Official nameBaptism Site "Bethany Beyond the Jordan" (Al-Maghtas)
CriteriaCultural: (iii)(vi)
Inscription2015 (39th session)
Area294.155 ha (1.13574 sq mi)
Buffer zone957.178 ha (3.69568 sq mi)

Al-Maghtas (Arabic: المغطس‎, Hebrew: בית עברה‎), meaning "baptism" or "immersion" in Arabic, is an archaeological World Heritage site in Jordan on the east bank of the Jordan River, officially known as Baptism Site "Bethany Beyond the Jordan" (Al-Maghtas). It is considered to be the original location of the Baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist and has been venerated as such since at least the Byzantine period.[1] Following a suggestion by Origen, the baptism site of Jesus is sometimes also called Bethabara.[2]

Al-Maghtas includes two principal archaeological areas.[3] The remnants of a monastery on a mound known as Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah's Hill) and an area close to the river with remains of churches, baptism ponds and pilgrim and hermit dwellings. The two areas are connected by a stream called Wadi Kharrar.[4][5]

The strategic location between Jerusalem and the King's Highway is already evident from the Book of Joshua report about the Israelites crossing the Jordan there. Jabal Mar-Elias is traditionally identified as the site of the ascension of the prophet Elijah to heaven.[6] The complete area was abandoned after the 1967 Six-Day War, when both banks of the Jordan became part of the frontline. The area was heavily mined then.[7]

After the signing of the Israel–Jordan peace treaty in 1994, de-mining of area soon took place after an initiative of Jordanian royalty, namely Prince Ghazi.[8] The site has then seen several archaeological digs, four papal visits and state visits, and attracts tourists and pilgrimage activity.[9] In 2015, the site was designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, excluding the western side of the river. Approximately 81,000 people visited the site in 2016, mostly European, American, and Arab tourists.[10] Thousands flock to the site on January 6 to mark Epiphany.[9]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Evaluation was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference SeeHL was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ "Baptism Site "Bethany Beyond the Jordan" (Al-Maghtas) – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". UNESCO. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  4. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan (July 13, 2015). "U.N. backs Jordan's claim on site where Jesus was baptized". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ "The Discovery of Bethany Beyond the Jordan River (Wadi Al-Kharrar)". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-04-29.
  6. ^ Rosemarie Noack (22 December 1999). "Wo Johannes taufte". ZEIT ONLINE. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  7. ^ "UNESCO backs Jordan River as Jesus' baptism site". Al Arabiya News. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press. 13 July 2015.
  8. ^ "'Adding Baptism Site to World Heritage List grants it further int'l recognition'". Jordan Times. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  9. ^ a b "Catholics celebrate Epiphany, coexistence of faiths at Baptism Site". Jordan Times. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  10. ^ "الفرجات: 81 ألفا زاروا المغطس العام الماضي". Al Ghad (in Arabic). 2 January 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.

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