The Ancient City of Petra
There are still mysteries to be discovered in the “Lost City”: Petra, now abandoned, was a bustling metropolis thousand of years ago.
The ancient city of Petra, sculpted directly into smart red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff sides, was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years.
Petra was a bustling trading center and the capital of the Nabataean dominion between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106, located amid harsh desert canyons and mountains in what would become the southwestern part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
For ages, the city sat abandoned and in ruins. A European explorer disguised himself as a Bedouin and infiltrated the enigmatic location only in the early 1800s.
The Petra Archaeological Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and it was selected as one of the world’s new seven wonders in 2007.
Before being defeated and assimilated into the Roman Empire, the Nabataeans ruled over a huge swath of the Middle East, stretching from modern-day Palestine and Jordan to the northern Arabian peninsula. The ruins of their unique water capture, storage, transportation, and irrigation systems can still be found in this area.
According to archaeologist Zeidoun Al-Muheisen of Jordan’s Yarmouk University, the Nabataeans had been in Petra since at least 312 B.C.
No one has yet discovered any archaeological remains dating back to the fourth century B.C., according to Al-Muheisen, who has been digging at Petra since 1979 and specializes in the Nabataean period. So far, the oldest discoveries date from the second and first century B.C.
However, there are additional indications hidden beneath the surface. “We’ve only found 15% of the city,” he claims. “The great majority—85 percent—remains buried and unexplored.”
In December 1993, a number of Greek scrolls dating from the Byzantine period were found in an excavated church near Petra’s Winged Lion Temple.
The scrolls are currently being analyzed by researchers at the American Institute of Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan’s capital, in the hopes of shedding light on life in Petra during this time period.
Petra’s role in international trade started to disappear after Rome formally gained possession of the city in A.D. 106. Petra continued to deteriorate, assisted by earthquakes and the growing importance of maritime trade routes; and reached its nadir near the end of the Byzantine Empire’s reign, about A.D. 700.
In the city’s cemeteries, visitors can view a variety of Nabataean and Greco-Roman architectural features, many of which were robbed by criminals and their wealth was gone.
Local Bedouins peddle tourist trinkets not far from where Arabs say Moses hit a rock with his staff, allowing water to drain.
Why is Petra one of the seven wonders?
When 100 million people voted in 2007, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan was picked as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. With its debut in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989; the city’s sculpted rose-red sandstone rock walls, tombs, and temples became famous around the world.
What are 5 facts about Petra?
1- Petra is a royal burial ground.
Many of the exquisitely sculpted tombs in Petra, such as the renowned Urn Tomb, are carved into the face of the rocks that overlook the city. These magnificent structures, which were sculpted between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, are supposed to have been the burial site of Nabatean royalty. They are a lasting testament to the imperial family’s wealth and prominence among the Nabatean elites.
2- It was given a different name by the first occupants.
Petra was known by various names among the Nabatean inhabitants, according to the ancient historian Josephus. According to inscriptions etched onto the city’s walls, it was known as Raqemo, after its royal creator.
3- In addition, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jordan’s Petra Archaeological Park is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the country’s most well-known tourist attraction.
4- The Treasury itself is a tomb.
The so-called Treasury is also a mausoleum, according to one of the most well-known Petra Jordan facts. With exquisitely detailed sculptures cut into a steep incline, the Treasury; also known as al-Khazneh, is among the most recognized sites in the entire complex.
5- Only about a quarter of the city has been unearthed thus far.
Petra’s ruins are massive by any measure, yet an astonishing 85 percent of the site has yet to be explored. There are many more secrets buried beneath the ground that could reveal information about Petra’s early history; as well as the later Greek and Byzantine periods.