The mosaic was discovered in 1885, when a flat area on a hill was chosen as the site for a new church. When the area was cleared for construction, a large mosaic was discovered. The mosaic once covered the floor of an ancient Byzantine church built around 560 AD. The original mosaic was originally an impressive 15.7 x 5.6 m, but the remains are about a quarter of this size. It displays all the major cities and features in the Holy Land with remarkable accuracy. Jerusalem, with all its major features, is the most important city and is placed in the centre of the map. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is clearly shown, as is the Cardo Maximus, a colonnaded main street that ran east-west through the centre of the Old City.
There are 157 Greek captions that label most of the important towns and features of the Holy Land at that time. The mosaic also includes the Jordanian towns of Kerak and Madaba.