Students Restore 1500 Year Old Mosaics

How many students do you know that have the opportunity to help restore 1500 year old art as part of their education? At the Institute of Mosaic Art and Restoration in Madaba, Jordan, the students do exactly that.  Madaba has been a center of mosaic production since the Byzantine Empire ruled this area. The oldest mosaic ever found in Jordan dates to 200 BC, and was discovered right here in Madaba.

The primary course at the Institute is a two year post-high school degree. Students learn chemical and physical restoration techniques for ancient mosaics, as well as mosaic production techniques using both ancient and modern methods.  The city and region surrounding Madaba function as the classroom for restoration and production classes. The Institute is under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities and therefore has access to many of the mosaic sites in Jordan. Students and technicians from the Institute are frequently asked to clean and restore mosaics, which serves both as a practical lab for the students, while simultaneously helping to preserve an important piece of Jordan’s cultural heritage.


Institute of Mosaic Art and Restoration in Madaba, Jordan


In addition to production and restoration labs, students also have classes in Arabic, English, Greek, Computer Aided Design, Chemistry, Geology, and Archeology.  Upon graduation, students usually pursue one of two options. Some students choose to pursue their Bachelors degree in Archeology through a local university. Others choose to open their own mosaic workshop or work for workshops in Madaba and Amman. 

The Institute is also developing other courses. Currently, we have a 2-3 hour “Mosaic Experience” course taught by students for both local high school students and tourists. The course takes participants through the entire process for making mosaics, from cutting the stone to mortaring and framing their creation. 

Early next year, the Institute will also host a few multi-day professional-level workshops taught by Syrian, Italian, and Jordanian mosaic experts. These workshops will focus on ancient mosaic conservation and restoration, as well as on advanced production methods.  The Institute expects mosaic professionals and archeologists from around the world to attend these workshops.


Institute of Mosaic Art and Restoration in Madaba, Jordan


If you happen to be wandering around in Jordan, come visit the Institute!  The campus is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 am to 2 pm.  We’d be happy to give you a campus tour, walk you down an original Roman Road, and show you through our workshop where you will see examples of ancient mosaics, modern traditional style mosaics, and also new styles of glass mosaics.  If you’ve ever tried your hand a mosaics for fun or hobby, this Institute will be the visit of a lifetime!

Around Madaba you will find many mosaics, several sites that feature in the Bible, and a short drive to the Dead Sea. 

To help plan your trip to Jordan, I recommend visiting the Jordan Tourism Board’s website at:  They have itinerary suggestions, tour operator links, a beautiful pictures from around Jordan.

Ahalan Wa Sahalan! (welcome!!)


Publisher's Note:

To see more images this week about mosaics, please see Daily Photo from Around the World, by Joshua Beatty.

You can read more about Daily Photo from Around the World here, in our interview with Joshua Beatty.




Joshua Beatty was born and raised in Upstate New York and moved to Japan at age 16 as an international exchange student.  That set him on the international education path, which has included working for the Japanese government and administering international professional development programs for educators for the Institute of International Education. He is currently a USAID-sponsored Emerging Markets Development Advisor Program Fellow in Jordan at the Institute of Mosaic Art and Restoration. Joshua has an MBA and has lived, worked, and traveled to more than 30 countries.

Photos courtesy and copyright Joshua Beatty.