Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Petra

Petra

petra jordan the city of rocks is one of the new seven wonders of the world

petra image courtsey: bibleplaces.com

Petra - Jordan, ‘a rose red city half as old as time’.


A ghost city all carved in solid rocks,


Petra in Jordan is a World Heritage Site on the slopes of Mount Hor at the south west of part of Jordan. It lies in a basin between two mountains and bordered by the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aquaba. There is no clear idea when all these constructions were made; it is generally believed that it has been there for more than two thousand years. This city is at present uninhabited but has the remnants of all amenities its dwellers enjoyed; all made of carved and finished granites and sandstones. The Petra city was located in the ancient trade routes between Gaza, Bosra and Damascus; the whole complex remained unknown to the modern world until a Swiss explorer John Ludwig Burckhardt discovered it in 1812.


The Nabataeans!


petra jordan the city of rocks is one of the new seven wonders of the worldPetra monastery

It remains a mystery that only in 1812 AD the modern world came to know about the existence of this rock city which housed a great historically important culture. Petra City was capital of the Nabataeans; a tribe engaged in trading and lived in Jordan and southern part of Arabia. These Nabataeans were pre Islamic tribes and were experts in trade as well as water supply-techniques. They were smart enough to create a perennial stream of water for the use of this city located in the arid desert. For this purpose they built a dam and connected its water to the city through sand-pipes. The Petra site has been described by the UNESCO as the ‘most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage’.


A place in the Dead Sea Scrolls,


petra jordan the city of rocks is one of the new seven wonders of the worldpetra image courtsey: bibleplaces.com

The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered from the eleven caves of Wadi in Qumran from the north shore of the Dead Sea have references of this city; which was known as Rakem at that time. These Scrolls comprising 900 very rare documents contained a Bible written in Hebrew belonged to the 1st century AD was the only one of its kind. These scrolls were


discovered between 1947 and 1956; are being scrutinized. It is believed that they are potent enough to make dramatic changes in the whole recorded history of the world.


Architecture and styles,


petra jordan the city of rocks is one of the new seven wonders of the worldPetra Amphitheatre

Historians and archeologists rake their heads to determine the exact time the city was built, there are no written records to prove any and hence they depend upon the style of architecture adopted to calculate the age of the city. The architecture involved in the numerous structures exhibit Greek, Roman and Syrian styles; the local style is considered as good as lost. In an attempt to estimate the period of origin of this culture; historians take pre Hellenic tombs (of Greek origin) as the base as they are the earliest structures found intact; it is estimated that they are not older than 6th century BC.


El Khazneh (the treasury),


The present entrance in to the site is through east through the Musa Wadi (Musa’s Valley); from there a narrow and dark gorge with high standing rocks on both sides called ‘Siq’ leads to the Petra Site. The Siq is of varying width from three to four meters and end before the courtyard of an enchanting structure- the El Khzneh or the treasury. Though it was only a royal tomb the title of treasury it acquired following a local legend. For years robbers found it as a secure hide. People spread rumors as a big urn kept there contained the loot deposited by the robbers. Hearing all these rumors; the Bedouin Arabs went there to secure the loot; they tried to break it by firing bullets; without knowing that it was made of solid rock! The urn still bears the mark of bullet hits.


Early morning or afternoon,


There are altogether 800 individual monuments in this large complex like temples, funerary halls, arched gateways, an elaborate theater, and waterway made of natural split in the granite structures to carry water to the Haji Musa River all carved out of shining sand-stone! The row of invaluable monuments stretch several kilometers, it is advisable to the tourists to select early morning or afternoon to pay visits as they can evade the hot desert time as well as see the cut sand-stones of the structures reflecting the sunrays in multicolor spectrum. The most magnificent structure is the El Khzaneh (the treasury building); with its carved rose sandstone facade standing tall; a sight which has no parallel.


The life that once existed,


Nabataeans the original occupants of the city were followers of Pagan faith who spoke Aramaic (a Semitic language used for divine worship; with 3000 old history in which many original portions of the Bible was written) worshipped Dushara –a male god who was flanked by three female goddesses namely Uzza, Allat and Manah. Along with these gods they worshipped some deified emperors who ruled the land; the whole site is dotted with the statues of these gods. What were their mythologies, how these emperors ruled the land; all are left to the imagination of the viewers as no written versions are available.


Mosses aka Musa Nabi,


Written records are available after the entry of Christianity in to the arena in AD 500; and there are references of an ‘Antioch-10 Bishop of Petra’, in the records of Pope Antonosius 1 of Alexandria. AD 629 -632 was the turn of the Islam to conquer the Petra. As per the Islamic versions Petra is the place where Musa Nabi (Mosses for Christians) happened to beat a stone with his stick and spot turned out to be an eternal source of water. The nearby valley is also known as Musa Wadi meaning the Valley of Musa.


The decline,


It is believed that an earthquake shattered the path of water and the town became arid devoid of the life giving water source. People had to migrate to places for a living leaving Petra as a ghost city. The development of sea-route also diminished the trade importance of this place. As the place got devoid of population thieves found it a treasure trove and random looting took away valuable historical monuments; completing its total decline. The carved granite mansions remain defying thieves and robbers and as sentinels who tell long stories of a bygone age to the numerous visitors who flock to Petra in search of some monuments that has no parallel anywhere in the world.


Petra at present,


petra jordan the city of rocks is one of the new seven wonders of the worldPetra image courtsey: civilization.ca

The Petra Monuments of Jordan is a UNESCO approved World Heritage Site; in a recently held pole (in 7th July 2007) Petra has been selected as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is just 4 hour drive from Amman the capital of Jordan, though robbed off much of its splendor; it still has much to thrill a visitor. This ‘rose red city’ with its more than 900 monuments is a major tourist attraction and visited by thousands of tourists every year.

5 comments:

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Sinu Kumar said...

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Warm Regards
Sinu Kumar

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