Jebel al-Madhbah

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Coordinates: 30°19′19″N 35°26′51″E / 30.321944°N 35.4475°E / 30.321944; 35.4475

Jebel al-Madhbah

Jebel al-Madhbah (Arabic: جبل المذبح, Jabal al-Madhbaḥ, lit. "mountain of the altar") is a mountain at Petra, Jordan, at whose peak there is a large Nabataean ritual site centered around an altar.[1]


The mountain is c. 1,070 m (3,510 ft) high.[2] The name, which translates to "mountain of the altar", is well deserved since its summit is covered in rock-cut ceremonial structures reached by a rock-cut staircase. The French Middle East historian Maurice Sartre (b. 1944) noted that beneath the peak there are "two gigantic obelisks, carved out of the rocky mass, [which] appear as sacred stones", and the ritual complex at the very top "consists of a vast rectangular esplanade hollowed out in such a way that the sides formed benches; in the middle of one long side, a natural podium (motab) was set aside for placing the gods' sacred stones. Another section was reserved for the altar. Cisterns, fed by rainwater, were used for ablutions and cleaning."[1]

Mount Sinai theory[edit]

A number of scholars have proposed Jebel al-Madhbah as the Biblical Mount Sinai,[3] beginning with Ditlef Nielsen in 1927.[4]

The valley in which Petra resides is known as Wadi Musa, meaning Valley of Moses. At the entrance to Wadi Musa is Ain Musa, the Spring of Moses.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sartre, Maurice (2005). The Middle East Under Rome. Harvard University Press. p. 316. ISBN 9780674016835.
  2. ^ The Tourist Map of Petra, Produced by Aerial Photography Dated 1981, Scale 1/5000, Royal Jordanian Geographic Centre
  3. ^ Peake's commentary on the Bible
  4. ^ Ditlef Nielsen, The Site of the Biblical Mount Sinai – A Claim for Petra (1927)

External links[edit]