The location of the Aqaba Church in Jordan

The highlighted area (red) in the southeastern point is Aqaba, which is Jordan's only port city.

Aqaba from the Red Sea (Gulf)

From the Gulf of Aqaba the desert mountains loom in the near distance. This particular port entry is located about 2 kilometers from the Aqaba church.

The waters of the Gulf of Aqaba

The crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and its rich sea life make it an ideal location for SCUBA divers and snorkelers. The water temperature averages a very comfortable 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Aqaba Church

One of the remaining archways at the Aqaba church. Mudbrick arches were a common building technology, dating back more than two millennia in the near east and the Levant.

The Aqaba church

A wider view of the ruins. The location has been partially backfilled to preserve the structure, but much is still visible.

The Aqaba church from overhead

Looking down in a birds-eye view at the ruins reveals the symmetry of the ancient structure.

The Aqaba church - possible layout

Meant only for conceptualization purposes, the overlay indicates possible locations of the various components of the early church.

The staircase

The stone staircase can be clearly seen, indicating the possibility of a second floor.

The staircase from overhead

Another view of the staircase. The wall leans forward on was probably a bearing wall for the second story.

Roman coins

One of the discoveries at the site that helped to identify the period of its use were Roman coins from the 4th century.

The labyrinth of rooms

There are several clearly identifiable rooms, one which is thought to have been a sacristy.

Early construction techniques

The construction of the Aqaba church is a combination of a stone foundation and mud brick. After the core materials had been laid they would be covered with a type of cement that would encase them, very similar to adobe construction found in the Americas.

An example of mud brick construction

These more modern sun-baked mudbricks are essentially the same as ones used in ancient times.

The church of Aqaba

This sign gives a brief description of the site in English and Arabic.


In the walls many small niches are seen. They may have held oil lamps or even statues. The nature of the materials made the building itself quite fireproof.

A large recess

Larger niches may have been used for storage.

A closer look at the wall surface

The cement covering of the walls appears to have been very thick, preserving the mudbrick structure. This style of building is still used today. Brick and block are often covered with a Portland-based cement to seal and strengthen the structure.

The stone foundation

The stone-on-stone construction can be clearly seen in this photo. Between the stone a type of mortar cement was used to fill the gaps between.


Stone masonry yesterday and today requires great skill. Cutting and piecing stones into a wall takes a great deal of time to accomplish, which is one of the reasons many structures would only employ this for the foundations. More symmetrical brick-laying was used for the upper portions, which was faster, as bricks were lighter and easier to work with.

Intentional cutouts

On the right is a space where a piece of flat stone, wood or similar was placed as the wall was constructed, allowing for the cutout to be formed during construction and not carved in after the fact. Also of note: in the rear, upper right an example of "corbelling" -- using projecting pieces of a wall to bear weight -- can be seen.