March 4, 2022 7 min read
Have you ever wondered how our ancestors lived? The answer is – in elaborately decorated cities like Petra! The main entrance to Petra, southern Jordan's ancient Nabatean city is the Siq.It is a dark, narrow gorge that meanders its way for 1.2 kilometres (34 miles) and is less than 3 metres (10 feet) broad in some places.
Petra is surrounded by mountains with passageways and canyons and is half-built, half-carved into the rock.The capital city of the Nabateans, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and inhabited since prehistoric times, became a major caravan center for Arabian incense, Chinese silks, and Indian spices during Hellenistic and Roman times, a crossroads between Arabia, Egypt, and Syria-Phoenicia. During the Nabataean, Roman, and Byzantine periods, an efficient water management system allowed a substantial population of an otherwise dry terrain.
Petra's most ornate ruin, Al-Khazneh ("the Treasury"), is hewn into the sandstone cliff at the end of the narrow ravine known as the Siq. The structure's face is marred by hundreds of bullet holes inflicted by local Bedouin tribes hoping to dislodge treasures that were previously rumored to be concealed beneath it. The rest of the city is preserved remarkably. Proof that Petra was a working, habited city lies in the various houses and villas carved in the mountain rock.
A vast theatre is located at a short distance from the Treasury, at the foot of the mountain known as en-Nejr, with the aim of placing the greatest number of tombs into view. At the point where the valley opens out into the plain, the site of the city is revealed with striking effect.During its construction, the theatre was carved into the hillside and between many tombs. There are still rectangular gaps visible in the seating. Rose-colored mountain walls, divided into groups by deep cracks and lined with knobs cut from the rock in the shape of towers, almost completely enclose it on three sides.
A collection of structures today known as The Petra Pool and Garden Complex is located in the center of the city of Petra. Originally thought to be a market area, excavations at the site have revealed it to be an extensive Nabataean Park with a big swimming pool, an island pavilion, and a complex hydraulic system.
Al-Khazneh is the most elaborate temple in the city of Petra. At the beginning of the 1st century AD, Al-Khazneh was built as a mausoleum and crypt for the Nabatean ruler Aretas IV Philopatri. It is believed to have been commissioned by him for himself and built during his reign. Al-Khazneh is a marvel of architecture with sculptures that are supposed to be of numerous mythic creatures related to the afterlife.Four eagles that transport the spirits into the afterlife are seen on the top. The figures on the upper level are double-axed Amazon dancing. Statues representing the twins Castor and Pollux, who resided half on Olympus and partially in the underworld, flank the entrance.
Set in a commanding red sandstone terrain, it is one of the world's richest and greatest archaeological sites. Isn’t it fascinating how our ancestors built such extravagantly carved cities? There is no doubt that they had an amazing knowledge of art, math, and science. You too can learn science and math in a fun and engaging way on Practically! Download the app now!
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