Petra, the ancient city carved out of rock, whose previous claim to fame was being featured in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” – is famous again. It has just been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.*
When I was there in May, the Jordanians were actively campaigning to be elected to the top 7. Congratulations Petra!
Me in Petra
At the site, tourists are warned to stay away from unauthorized tour guides, but that didn’t stop said “guides” from bugging us as we walked through the site.
We were greeted by many ‘guides’ offering rides on horseback. Since I didn’t think I could ride a horse for more than an hour without falling off, I didn’t take the tour, but Judith did. In her opinion, it wasn’t as much fun as it should have been. Those warnings were right.
They also offered horse and buggy rides, but since most of the tourists riding in them were grimacing and hanging on for dear life, I guessed that the rides were a little bumpy.
The sunny & hot entrance to the site led towards a narrow (and much more temperate) shadowy gorge called the Siq.
At the end of the narrow gorge is the the Treasury, carved directly out of the sandstone cliff.
Some wiki facts about the Nabataeans who built the place:
The Nabataeans worshipped the Arab gods and goddesses of the pre-Islamic times as well as few of their deified kings. The most famous of these was Obodas I who was deified after his death. Dushara was the main male god accompanied by his female trinity: Uzza, Allat and Manah. Many statues carved in the rock depict these gods and goddesses…
…Christianity found its way into Petra in the 4th century AD, nearly 500 years after the establishment of Petra as a trade center…At least one of the tombs (the “tomb with the urn”?) was used as a church. An inscription in red paint records its consecration “in the time of the most holy bishop Jason” . The Christianity of Petra, as of north Arabia, was swept away by the Islamic conquest of 629–632…
…the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply… led to the rise of the desert city, in effect creating an artificial oasis. The area is visited by flash floods and archaeological evidence demonstrates the Nabataeans controlled these floods by the use of dams, cisterns and water conduits. Thus, stored water could be employed even during prolonged periods of drought, and the city prospered from its sale..
Petra’s decline came rapidly under Roman rule, in large part due to the revision of sea-based trade routes. In 363 an earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled the vital water management system. The ruins of Petra were an object of curiosity in the Middle Ages and were visited by the Sultan Baibars of Egypt towards the close of the 13th century. The first European to describe them was Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.
Other structures may have been just as elaborate as the treasury, but they may have been damaged by earthquakes.
The buidings that weren’t damaged by earthquakes show amazing resilience. Here’s an inside view of an ancient room, carved out of rock, still standing and intact after very little maintenance.
The road through the city was long and hot, so we took a camel ride back to the Treasury. That was where we found the 8th New Wonder of the world, the Coke-eating Camel.
After we rode back to the center of ‘town’, in front of the treasury, the camel wrangler asked us if we could buy his camel a coke. He said the camel loved Coke, and he’d drink the whole can down. (No Pepsi, just Coke).
The camel drank all of the coke…
…then he swallowed the can.
The camel wrangler also asked for a cigarette as a tip. I had some cigarettes, and yes, they were Camels.
* Link thanks to Judith at Kesher Talk