Jerash, one of the largest and best-preserved Roman cities in the Middle East, lies in a broad valley among the biblical mountains of Gilead, about 50 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The city became Christian in the Byzantine period when its 25,000 inhabitants had more than 20 churches and bishops who took part in early Church councils. Ruins of most of the churches can still be seen.
Conquests by Persians and Muslims in the 7th century, followed by devastating earthquakes in the 8th century, caused the city to be abandoned. It was rediscovered only at the beginning of the 19th century, remarkably preserved after being buried in sand for centuries.