Baptismal Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” Added to UNESCO World Heritage List; Robin Ngo; Biblical Archaeology Society

Jordan – Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas)

In 2015, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee added the archaeological complex at Al-Maghtas, Jordan—dubbed the Biblical “Bethany beyond the Jordan”—to its World Heritage List. The site has been venerated as the place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus since the late Roman–early Byzantine periods, when early Christians began making pilgrimages to the area.

Archaeological work conducted from 1996 to 2002 in modern Jordan about 7 miles north of Dead Sea on the eastern shore of the Jordan River uncovered a number of Byzantine-period buildings. Near the bank of the river, archaeologists excavated a series of churches celebrating the site of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. About two miles east of this church complex lies a small hill called Tell el-Kharrar or Tel Mar Elyas (“Elijah’s Hill”—early Christian tradition associated this site with the place where prophet Elijah ascended to heaven).

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