Old color images of Petra and southern Jordan, 1900-1940


Nestled between valleys and hilly terrain in southern Jordan, the city of Petra has stood for more than 2,500 years.

In that time, Petra went from an early settlement to an important and prosperous trading center in the region, and then to a forgotten and abandoned city, hidden from the eyes of the Western world for centuries.

It can be said that the city was only rediscovered in the 19th century, soon becoming the subject of strong interest among archaeologists, historians and other curious people.

Today, Petra is one of the greatest symbols of Jordan and it attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world every year.

Often referred to as the Rose City of Jordan due to the red color of much of the sandstone used in its buildings, Petra is famous for its unique, striking architecture.

Carved in incredibly intricate detail, many of Petra's most famous structures were originally buildings carved out of the rock.

Indeed, rather than building structures stone by stone and brick by brick, Petra's skilled engineers decided to create entire buildings from the rock walls abundant in the site's many valleys.

Of course, there are other types of structures in the city as well, many of which were built from the ground up using more traditional methods.

Petra (from the Latin word 'petra', meaning 'rock') is located in a great rift valley east of Wadi Arabia in Jordan, about 80 kilometers south of the Dead Sea.

It came to prominence in the late 1st century BCE through the success of the spice trade. The city was the principal city of ancient Nabataea and was famous above all for two things: its trade and its hydraulic engineering systems.

It was locally autonomous until the reign of Trajan, but it flourished under Roman rule. The city developed around its colonnaded street in the 1st century CE (AD) and saw rapid urbanization by the middle of the 1st century.

Following the flow of the Wadi Musa, the city center was built on either side of Colonnade Street on a broad plan between the theater in the east and the Qasr al-Bint in the west.

Mines were probably opened during this period, and there was virtually continuous construction throughout the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

According to tradition, in ca. By 1200 BC, the Petra area (but not necessarily the site itself) was settled by Edomites, and the area was known as Edom ("red").

Before the Israeli invasion, the Edomites controlled trade routes from Arabia in the south to Damascus in the north. Little is known about the Edomites in Petra, but as a people they were known for their intelligence, their writing, their textile industry, the finesse and excellence of their ceramics, and their skilled metallurgy.

The next chapter of history deals with the Persian period, and it is believed that during this time the Nabataeans moved into Edom, forcing the Edomites to move to southern Palestine.

But little is known about Petra until about 312 BC, by which time the Nabataeans, one of several Arab tribes, had captured it and made it the capital of their kingdom.

At this time, during the Hellenistic rule of the Seleucids, and later, the Ptolemies, trade increased throughout the region and new cities such as Philadelphia (Rabbath Ammon, modern Amman) and Gerasa (modern Jerash) were founded.

Infighting between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies allowed the Nabataeans to gain control of the caravan routes between Arabia and Syria.

Although there were conflicts between the Jewish Maccabeans and the Seleucid overlords, Nabataean trade continued.

With Nabataean rule, Petra became the center of the spice trade that extended across Arabia to Aqaba and Petra, and further either north-west to Gaza, or north from Amman to Bostra, Damascus and finally to Palmyra and the Syrian desert. till. , Nabataean classical monuments reflect the international character of the Nabataean economy through a combination of its native tradition and classical spirit.

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