A Jordan Church Project: Preserving Heritage, Fighting Poverty

Published February 21st, 2021 - 08:06 GMT

Kneeling on thick pieces of foam workers hunch over a brown, white and black tile mosaic whose design represents the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers as well as trees, flowers and geometric figures.

In the ruins of an ancient Byzantine church in northern Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side-by-side.  Workers restore a mosaic floor piece by piece at the St John the Baptist church, built in 619 AD.

It is one of three church mosaic floors under restoration, or recently restored, in the small town of Rihab, adding to an impressive array of such national treasures.

Jordan's most renowned mosaic is one of the oldest maps of the Holy Land, consisting of over two million mosaic stones originally built into the floor of a sixth-century Byzantine church in Madaba.

Rihab, 70km north of the capital Amman has over time been home to around 32 churches but nowadays only the ruins of five or six are visible.

Three hundred people, a fifth of them women, are working on the pilot project to restore the sites, run by UN cultural agency UNESCO and financed by Germany.

The project has two main aims: preserving the heritage and creating job opportunities for local communities. The workers were trained in the site's history and churches, along with how to work with mosaics and restoration.

UNESCO official Giorgia Cesaro said the project represented "a change in the approach to heritage conservation", one that took into consideration the communities living near the archaeological sites.

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A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Franco Sciorilli, an Italian expert, speaks to AFP as he supervises workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, to restore an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Franco Sciorilli, an Italian expert, speaks to AFP as he supervises workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, to restore an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

This picture shows the mosaic flooring of the Saint Mary church, built in 543 AD, the restoration of which was recently completed by workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZ

This picture shows the mosaic flooring of the Saint Mary church, built in 543 AD, the restoration of which was recently completed by workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp

A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Franco Sciorilli, an Italian expert, speaks to AFP as he supervises workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, to restore an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
This picture shows the mosaic flooring of the Saint Mary church, built in 543 AD, the restoration of which was recently completed by workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZ
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Franco Sciorilli, an Italian expert, speaks to AFP as he supervises workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, to restore an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Franco Sciorilli, an Italian expert, speaks to AFP as he supervises workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, to restore an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
Workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restore a stone wall at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
A worker employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, restores a mosaic floor at an ancient church complex, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp
This picture shows the mosaic flooring of the Saint Mary church, built in 543 AD, the restoration of which was recently completed by workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty.  Khalil MAZ
This picture shows the mosaic flooring of the Saint Mary church, built in 543 AD, the restoration of which was recently completed by workers employed by a pilot project run by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, in the small town of Rihab, some 70 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on February 9, 2021. In the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church in Jordan, local townspeople and Syrian refugees work side by side on a project that unites preserving cultural heritage and fighting poverty. Khalil MAZRAAWI / afp