al-Sinnabra View to the West from Mount Nebo

Photo by Jefferson Williams


Transliterated Name Source Name
Mount Nebo English
Jabal Nibu Arabic جَبَل نِيْبُو‎
Har Nevo Hebrew הַר נְבוֹ‎
Pisgah Hebrew Bible פִּסְגָּה
Fasga Arabic ‎فاسعا
Jabal Siyāgha Arabic جابال سيياعها
Rās as-Siyāgha Arabic راس اسءسيياعها‎
Rujm Siyāgha Arabic ‎روجم سيياعها
Jabal Nabo local bedouin جابال نابو
Jabal Musa local bedouin جابال موسا

Mount Nebo is famous as the location where in the 34th chapter of Deuteronomy Moses climbed its peak to view the promised land before passing away. Only ~ 7km. from Madaba, it provides a commanding view of the Dead Sea, Judah, and Samaria. The ridge of Mt. Nebo has been inhabited since remote antiquity, as the dolmens, menhirs, flints, tombs, and fortresses from different epochs testify (Michelle Piccirillo in Meyers et al, 1997). Several churches and a monastery were built there in the Byzantine era.

Phasing of the Memorial to Moses by Piccirillo (1982)

Piccirillo (1982) divided up the stratigraphy of the memorial to Moses as follows:

Phase Date Notes
I 2nd-3rd cent. CE On the highest spot of the mountain, towards the 2nd to 3rd century AD, a three-apsidal monument, the cella trichora (possibly a mausoleum) was built, which was used for funeral purposes, if not originally, at least at a later time, perhaps after its violent destruction.
II Christian monks re-adapted the cella trichora into a church with adjoining synthronon in the central apse, while re-using the two lateral apses as sacristies.
It was in this church that the monks showed the `Memorial of Moses' to Egeria.
IIA On the northern slope of the mountain was added later on a diaconicon-baptistry. In August 531 there took place the restoration and beautification of the diaconicon, the mosaic floor of which was laid by Soelos, Kaiomos and Elias.
III From the middle of the 6th century to the first years of the 7th, the sanctuary underwent complete reconstruction.

Notes and Further Reading

Alliata, Eugenio. "La ceramica dello scavo." Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF)ILiber Annuus 34 (1984): 316-317.

Alliata, Eugenio. "La ceramica dello scavo della cappella del Prete Giovanni a Khirbet el-Mukhayyat." SBFi'Liber Annuus 38 (1988): 317-360.

Alliata, Eugenio. "Nuovo settore del monastero al Mont e Nebo-Siyagha." In Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land, New Discoveries:Essays in Honour of Virgilio C. Corbo, edited by Giovanni Claudio

Bottini et al., pp. 427-466. Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF),Collectio Maior, 36, Jerusalem, 1990.

Bagatti, Bellarmino. "Nuova ceramica del Monte Nebo (Siyagha)."SBFI Liber Annuus 35 (1985): 249-278.

Corbo, Virgilio. "Nuovi scavi archeologici nella cappella del battistero della basilica del Nebo (Siyagha)." SBFI Liber Annuus 17 (1967):241-258.

Corbo, Virgilio. "Scavi archeologici sotto i mosaici della basilica del Mont e Nebo (Siyagha)." SBFI Liber Annuus 20 (1970): 273-298.

Knauf, E. Axel. "Bemerkungen zur friihen Geschichte der arabischen Ortographie." Orientalia 53 (1984): 456-458.

Luynes, Du e de. Voyage d'exploration a la Mer Morte, a Petra et sur la rive gauche dujourdain, vol. I. Paris, 1874, p. 148

Milani, C. Itinerarium Antonini Placentini. Milan, 1977-

Milik, J. T. "Nouvelles inscriptions semitiques et grecques du pays de Moab. " SBFI Liber Annuus 9 (1959): 330-358.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Campagna archeologica a Khirbet el Mukhayyet (Citti dei Nebo), agosto-settembre 1973." SBF/Liber Annuus 23 (1973): 322-358.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Campagna archeologica nella basilica di Mose Profeta sul Mont e Nebo-Siyagha. " SBF/Liber Annuus 26 (1976): 281-318.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Forty Years of Archaeological Work at Mount Nebo-Siyagha in Late Roman-Byzantine Jordan." In Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 1, edited by Adnan Hadidi, pp. 291-300. Amman, 1982.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Una chiesa nell'wadi 'Ayoun Mousa ai piedi del Monte Nebo. " SBF/Liber Annuus 34 (1984): 307-318.

Piccirillo, Michele. "The Jerusalem-Esbus Road and Its Sanctuaries in Transjordan." In Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 3, edited by Adnan Hadidi, pp . 165-172. Amman, 1987.

Piccirillo, Michele. "La cappella del Prete Giovanni di Khirbet el-Mukhayyat (Villaggio di Nebo). " SBF/Liber Annuus 38 (1988): 297-315.

Piccirillo, Michele, and Eugenio Alliata. "La chiesa del monastero di Kaianos alle 'Ayoun Mous a sul Mont e Nebo. " In Quaeritur inventus colitur: Miscellanea in onore di padre Umberto Maria Fasola, vol. 40, p p . 561-586. Studi di Antichita Cristiana, 40. Th e Vatican, 1989. Piccirillo, Michele. Chiese e mosaici di Madaba. SBF, Collectio Maior,

Piccirillo, Michele, and Eugenio Alliata. "L'eremitaggio di Procapis e l'ambiente funerario di Robebos al Mont e Nebo-Siyagha. " In Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land, New Discoveries: Essays in Honour of Virgilio C. Corbo, edited by Giovanni Claudio Bottini et al., pp . 391-426. SBF, Collectio Maior, 36. Jerusalem, 1990.

Piccirillo, Michele. Mount Nebo. SBF Guides, 2. 2d ed. Jerusalem, 1990.

Piccirillo, Michele. "Le due inscrizioni della cappella della Theotokos nel Wadi 'Ayn al-Kanisah-Monte Nebo. " Studium Biblicum Franciscanum)Liber Annuus 44 (1994): 521-538.

Puech, fimile. "L'inscription christo-palestinienne d"Ayoun Mous a (Mount Nebo). " SBF/Liber Annuus 34 (1984): 319-328.

Robinson, Edward, and Eli Smidi. Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai, and Arabia Petraea. Boston, 1941, vol. 2, p. 307.

Sailer, Sylvester J. The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo. 2 vols. SBF, Collectio Maior, 1, Jerusalem, 1941.

Sailer, Sylvester J., and Bellarmino Bagatti. The Town of Nebo (Khirbet el-Mekhayyat) with a Brief Survey of Other Ancient Christian Monuments in Transjordan. SBF, Collectio Maior, 7. Jerusalem, 1949.

Sailer, Sylvester J. "Iron Age Tomb s at Nebo , Jordan. " SBF/Liber Annuus 16 (1966): 165-298.

Sailer, Sylvester J. "Hellenistic to Arabic Remains at Nebo , Jordan. "SBF/Liber Annuus 17 (1967): 5-64.

Schneider, Hilary. The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, vol. 3, The Pottery. SBF, Collectio Maior, 1. Jerusalem, 1950.

Stockman, Eugene. "Stone Age Culture in the Nebo Region, Jordan. " SBF/Liber Annuus 17 (1967): 122-128.

Yonick, Stephen. "The Samaritan Inscription from Siyagha: A Reconstruction and Restudy. " SBF/Liber Annuus 17 (1967): 162-221


In his entry for the Jordan Valley Quake(s), Ambraseys (2009:222) notes that

Indeed, Russell remarks that it is impossible to ascertain the effects of this and the AD 632 (634) earthquake on the Mt Nebo monastery owing to the manner in which the excavations were conducted.
Russell (1985:45) correlates archeoseismic destruction at Mount Nebo to the Beirut Quake of 551 CE.
July 9, 551 CE

This earthquake also appears to have been responsible for the destruction and subsequent abandonment of the Town of Nebo ( Saller and Bagatti 1949: 217, n. 2).
Russell (1985:49) correlates archeoseismic destruction at Mount Nebo to one of the Sabbatical Year Earthquakes of 749.
January 748 CE

The final destruction of the basilica at Mt. Nebo also appears to correlate with this earthquake (Schneider 1950: 2-3),
Russell (1985:54) supplied the following notes.
At Mt. Nebo (Sailer 1941: 45-46) and Aereopolis (Zayadine 1971) in the region of ancient Moab, recovery after the 551 earthquake apparently did not occur until the end of the century. Related to this delayed recovery is the possibility that an influx of southeastern populations from decaying urban centers like Petra subsequent to the 551 earthquake was responsible for the intensified building during the late 6th and early 7th centuries in both Moab (Sailer 1941: 248) and the Negev (Kraemer 1958: 23. 28-29; Colt 1962: 21-22).