The ruins of Um Al-Rasas lie near the Kings’ Highway, 30 km south east of Madaba, in a barren desert, no longer the lush fertile terrain it was during the Roman rule, as described by the Jewish historian of the time, Josephus. The biblical name of this town, Kastron Mepha’at, is mentioned in Joshua 13:18 and in Jeremiah 48:21. The Roman fortress, originally a Nabataean city, is a square walled town with very high walls supported by towers. A 15-meter tower stands in the middle and has generated a much speculation on the purpose it served.
Excavations have uncovered some of the finest Byzantine church mosaics, including a large carpet depicting Old and New Testament cities on both the east and west banks of the Jordan River. Another feature at Umm Al-Rasas walled settlement is a 15m Byzantine tower used by early Christian monks seeking solitude.