TO ENLARGE THE PICTURE CLICK ON THE MAP
(from Greek πέτρα, pétra, “rock”, Arabic: البتراء, al-Batrā’) – a rock town created in Nabatean period, which flourished in ancient times – in the period between the third century BC and the first century AD Petra was then the capital of the Nabatean kingdom. It is located in southern Jordan, in a mountainous region about 20 km south of the city of Shawbak. It lies in a stone sandstone valley, to which leads a narrow road among the rocks – the As-Sik gorge. Petra is famous for its numerous buildings carved in the rocks. The Nabataeans called Petra “Rakmu” what means “multicolor”. The second route to Petra leads from the side of Wadi Araba through a mysterious and full building valley called Wadi Sabra.
The valley of Petra crosses the bed of the temporary river – Wadi Musa, whose tributaries are surrounded by plateaus, on which the ancient city of Nabataeans has grown. The surrounding year-round streams of water ensured the survival of only a small housing estate. The significant population growth during Petra’s greatest prosperity meant that the Nabataeans had to expand the system of water supply and rock tanks to store water for the ever-growing population of once sprawling palatial buildings and gardens.
The best known Petra buildings:
- Al-Khazneh called the “Pharaoh’s treasury” (Khazneh al-Firaun) – a stone-edged building erected around the 1st and 2nd centuries AD In a sense, it is the flagship and the most famous monument of Petra. It is not clear the purpose of the building, although recently the view prevails that it was a tomb (and not a temple) of one of the rulers of Petra – perhaps Aretas IV and his wife
- Ad-Deir, or “Monastery” – the name comes from the Byzantine period, when the building was actually a Christian monastery. It is a building at first sight similar to Al-Khazneh, however it is much larger and more impressive since then and looks more majestic; it was most probably created during the reign of the last Nabatean king – Rabel II (70-106)
- Kasr el-Bint Firaun, i.e. “Palace of the daughter of Pharaoh”, temple of Duszara (local deity of the Nabateans). It is a temple built of sandstone in the second half. 1st century BC (during the reign of Obodas III 30-8 BC), or in the first half. And in the Middle Ages, that is, during the reign of Aretas IV
- A great group of the Royal Tombs on the so-called Royal Wall, which consists of “Urn’s Tomb”, “Tomb of Jedwabne”, “Korobski’s Tomb” and a monumental “Tomb of the Palace”; however, no debris was found in them
- The tomb of Sextus Florentinus (Roman governor), erected around 130 AD, in the northern part of the city, is one of the most famous monuments in Petra related directly to the Romans. In addition to this object, quite a few graves of Roman soldiers were found in Petra
- Theater – one of the largest buildings in Petra, housing from 6 to even 10,000 spectators; was probably built in the first century AD, also during the reign of Aretas IV. It is believed that it was considerably expanded after Trajan seized Petra
- Obelisk’s Tomb – a tomb topped with four obelisks formed in the rock. It reflects the harmony of combining Nabatean and Egyptian art. It is assumed that it was used to conduct funeral rites. It is surrounded by stone seats (triclinium)
- Suchur al-Jinn – the rocks of the genie, the presentation of the god Duszara
Dana Nature Reserve (Arabic: محمية ضانا للمحيط الحيوي) – one of the two Jordanian biosphere reserves, located in the province of At-Tafila, in southern Jordan, created in 1989. It is managed by The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. In 1998, the reserve was included into the network of UNESCO biosphere reserves.
Dan’s Reserve is the largest protected area in Jordan. It stretches across the Jordan Valley, which is part of the Great African Ramps from the Wadi Arab Valley (about -200 m above sea level) to the hills with cliff slopes around Al-Qadisija reaching more than 1,400 m above sea level. Due to the diversity of climatic zones, from the Mediterranean to the desert, and geological forms, the Dana Reserve is a reserve with the greatest diversity of plant and animal species in Jordan. It is the southernmost position of the so-called forests with evergreen cypress. There are over 830 species of plants in the reserve, including three endemic. You can also meet about 215 species of birds (which is 50% of all observed by ornithologists in Jordan), including such species as syrian syrium. There are also 38 species of mammals, among others: steppe caracal, Nubian capricorn, Persian wolf or desert cat.
The area currently belonging to the Dana reserve for thousands of years was also a place of human activity. There are over 100 archaeological sites located in its area. The most extensive and known is Chirbat Faynan. The town located in Wadi Faynan, whose origins date back to around 4000 BC, was one of the first and largest copper mines in antiquity. Its origins date back to the late Neolithic period, and it continued to work until the fourth century AD
One of the most beautiful and interesting medieval castles in the Middle East. It was built in 1115 by the King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, as the first in the present-day Jordan. Originally it was called Mons Regalis, because the king himself supervised the construction of this fortress. Montreal was of great strategic importance at that time, because it was brought up on the hill, which provided the crusaders with control over the vast plains of Edom, through which trade and pilgrimage routes crossed the route from Syria to the Arabian peninsula, e.g. King’s Road. The defensive values of the castle were raised by two water-carved water tanks and a fairly fertile strip of land around it. This meant that Montreal could be practically self-sufficient for some time. thanks to archaeological research, for example, four tunnels leading from the castle to its foot were located.
In the hands of the Crusaders, the castle remained until 1142, when it was incorporated into the Duchy of Oultrejordain, which was a fief of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. At the same time, the castle lost its privileged position in favor of Karak, where a larger and better fortified castle was erected. The whole area of Montreal – Kerak was defended by casters’ crews in the strength of 60 knights. After 1142, the castle belonged to Philip of Milly, and in 1175, after the marriage of Stefania de Milly (daughter of Philip) with Rejnald of Chatillon, the stronghold fell to the latter. This was decisive for the fate of not only Montreal, but also the whole of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, because Rejnald used Montreal as a base for assaults on Arab caravans, which until now enjoyed the privilege of moving freely through the Kingdom. The new master of the castle also planned to build ships in the vicinity of Montreal, which would then be transported to the coast of the Red Sea to carry out a sea landing on Mecca.
The renewed attacks and war plans of Rejnald of Chatillon caused a serious inflame of relations with the Ayyubids and, consequently, Saladin’s attack on the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. Muslims quickly defeated the Christian knights (Saladin personally beheaded Rejnalda around 4 July 1187) and began the siege of the castle of Montreal. Because of its favorable location, the castle defended itself for almost two years, because Saladin could not use siege machines. There are no flat areas around the castle. The defenders of Montreal capitulated only in May 1189. Apparently, during the defense, crusaders sold their families for food (but after the surrender of the families, freedom was returned, as were the surviving crusaders).
Around 1260, Montreal was occupied and largely rebuilt by the Mamluks, and the 14th-century inscriptions visible on the outer walls of the castle remain to this day.
The castle from the outside still looks magnificent, but inside it remains badly ruined, although the conservation and research works are underway here. However, the tourist attraction remains: huge walls, towers, entrance gate and a well-preserved underground passage, leading deeply (350 degrees) down the rock, to the water reservoirs at the bottom. Currently, the archaeological research is carried out successfully by the scientists from the University of Florence under the direction of prof. Guido Vannini.
Nabatean settlement and temple located about 10 km north of the city of At-Tafila, at the so-called The Royal Route, in one of the valleys reaching Wadi Has (Wadi La’aban). A Nabatean temple, houses and probably a palace of the ruler, a burial ground and irrigation installations were discovered here. A considerable amount of Nabatean ceramics indicates that the settlement belonged to the phase of Nabatean culture, in which the Nabataeans went into a more settled way of life and based their economy largely on agriculture.
The first settlement was established here in the Neolithic period. A small settlement in the early Bronze Age is also visible on the highest hill south of the Nabatean village. In turn, the remains of the Edomite settlement were discovered under some of the structures erected by the Nabateans. The largest buildings were built here, however, in the Nabatean period. In the fourth century AD the settlement was partially destroyed by an earthquake. In the 6th century this area was again settled by a small Byzantine community, which continued its existence here until the Abbasidic period.
The Nabatean settlement consisted of a large palace, public buildings and oil press, and numerous smaller houses. The temple complex is unusual because it consists of two large courtyards, which may indicate the separation of ritual participants. Later Byzantine and early Islamic communities limited their construction activities to building small houses, and the temple itself was transformed first into a small church, and then into a stable.
Udruh (Arabic: اذرح), also known as Adhruh, is a town in southern Jordan, administratively belonging to the district of Ma’an. It is located 15 km east of Petra. Udruh was inhabited by the Nabataeans in the first century BC, and later became the seat of the fortified Roman military camp being the seat of Legion VI Ferrata. The Udruh camp functioned until the 6th century AD and was one of the most prosperous cities in the region. In 631 he passed into Muslim hands. In the Ottoman times, another fort was built in the city. The settlement in Udruh was abandoned in the Ottoman era.
Archaeological findings show that Udruh was a Nabataean settlement at least from the beginning of the first century BC. and developed in parallel with Petra up to the 1st century BC
The Roman fort probably originated after the Roman annexation of the Nabatean Kingdom in 106 AD Fort could have been a continuation of the military structure built by the Nabataeans. At the end of the third or early fourth century, Legion VI of Ferrata moved its headquarters to Udruh. From the 4th century AD the settlement was also known from the name Augustopolis.
Udruh remained an important settlement under the Byzantine rule, and during this period, demolition and rebuilding of existing military structures in the city were carried out. In 530, Emperor Justinian removed the legionaries from there who occupied the Limes Arabicus fortifications. In the 6th-century census, containing data about the Palaestina province of Tertia, known as the Edict of Beersheba, Udruh was recorded as a settlement paying the second highest tax amount. This shows its importance as a regional center at the time. In the early seventh century AD a church was built outside the city walls.
Wadi Rum (Arabic: وادي رم) is a valley lying among granite and sandstone rocks, which is also the largest Jordanian valley. In 2011, this area was protected and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The entire protected area is concentrated around the main Wadi Rum valley. In this region there is also the highest hill in Jordan – Jabal Umm ad Dami, 1840 m above sea level, located 30 km south of the village of Wadi Rum. On a clear day from the top you can see the Red Sea and the Saudi border.
In Wadi Rum there is also a large number of petroglyphs, for example in Khaz’ali Canyon. It is a place rich in petroglyphs engraved in the walls of caves depicting people and antelopes, and dating back to the Tamudic times. The contemporary village of Wadi Rum has several hundred inhabitants – Bedouins, living in tents with goatskin, but in concrete houses.
During the prehistoric period, the Wadi Rum valley was inhabited by many different communities. Significant traces (eg the temple) were left here, eg by the Nabataeans.
Wadi Rum is known in the world thanks to the activities of the British officer, Thomas Edward Lawrence, who was active in this area during the anti-Turkish Arab uprising in 1917-1918. In the eighties, one of the characteristic rock formations of Wadi Rum was given the name “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” because of the book under this title, which Lawrence wrote in the wake of participating in the war (although the name of the novel has nothing to do with Wadi Rum).
The Wadi Rum region is today one of the most popular tourist regions in Jordan, very popular among foreign tourists. A typical tourist route includes a few-hour or full-day tour with a four-wheel drive of major tourist attractions, lunch and an evening party with overnight in one of the many Bedouin camps. Popular forms of recreation are also: visiting desert areas, camping “under the stars”, horse riding (Arabian horses) and rock climbing.
Humeima (also known as Hawara – Arabic: الحميمة) was a trading post in southern Jordan, which was founded by the Nabatean king Aretas III in the beginning of the first century BC. The stand is located 45 km south of Petra and 55 km north of Aqaba, near the desert highway. You can visit them on the way to Wadi Rum.
Humeima has been in operation since about 90 BC. to the early Islamic period. There are remnants of Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic constructions, including a Roman bath, five Byzantine churches and an Islamic palace.
The settlement was probably founded as a stop on the trade route leading from Petra to the Gulf of Aqaba. In the Greco-Roman epoch, it was called Auara (Greek: Αὔαρα, the name probably comes from the word “Hawara”, meaning “white” in Aramaic.) The city was also a Abbasid center around 700 AD, and this is where the first three three caliphs were born: As -Saffah, Al-Mansur and Al-Mahdi.
The most interesting antiquities preserved here include water tanks. Because rainfall here does not exceed 80 cm per year, extensive cisterns were built in the city to store water and irrigate the surrounding fields. An important structure related to water management was the so-called Aqueduct built in the first century BC, which consisted of a main line of 18.9 km, leading water from Ain al-Qanah at an altitude of 1425 m to a tank in the city center at an altitude of 995 m. This system was also equipped with 6 settlers. The maximum possible water flow was 150 m3 / day, the overall slope was 2.45%. The aqueduct consisted of a thick foundation wall, which supported long stone sewer blocks surrounded by rubble mortar. The canal blocks were made of yellow marl or white sandstone. The whole structure was topped with flat limestone tiles. This is an example of a typical hydrotechnical construction from the Nabatean period, and similar buildings were found in almost all centers attributed to the Nabateans. Aqueduct in Humeima is by far the longest construction of this type.
Bozrah, Botsra or Botzrah (Arabic: بصيرا, translit. Buṣayrā) is an archaeological site and a modern town in the area of the city of At-Tafila, in southern Jordan. Some researchers identify this place with the Hebrew Bible mentioned several times. According to the biblical story, it was the capital of Edom and the home of the twin brother of Jakub, Esau.
Conducted in 1971-1974 was managed by C. M. Bennett. Covering an area of 8 ha, the city is situated on a spur drooping northwards and surrounded by a casemate wall erected most probably in the Iron Age II (1000-587 BC); a small passage in it allowed access to a source which is about 2 km away. The beginning of settlement in this place in the 9th century BC was found. Its continuity until the end of the Assyrian reign in the seventh century BC was also confirmed.
Two chronologically consecutive palaces were discovered on the city acropolis. The larger, older building (77 x 38 m), which was only exposed in the eastern part, had rooms centered around two inner yards. With an entrance from the eastern courtyard, the western part was probably a house passage. The younger palace (48 x 36 m) was characterized by a regular layout of the rooms around the inner courtyard, typical of the Assyrian times.
The local ceramics are characterized by red and black coloring of dishes, and some of their shapes testify to the Assyrian influence.
The city is called in the ancient sources of Arindel (Greek: Ἀρίνδηλα), which was the center of the Late Roman province of Palaestina Salutaris, also called Palaestina Tertia. It corresponds to the modern Gharandal settlement in the At-Tafila region, southern Jordan. The city is located at an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level. It was probably founded by the Nabataeans (there were found relics of the Nabatean temple), but it gained more importance in Byzantine times, taking third place among the provincial cities. Arindela was also a Christian bishopric. We know from sources that one of the local bishops, Theodorus, took part in the Council of Ephesus in 431. Another – Makariusz – participated in the council in Jerusalem in 536.
In Gharandal you may find fragmentary preserved relics of the Byzantine church and traces of the Nabatean temple.
Beidha (Arabic: البيضا al-baîḍ, “white”), also sometimes Bayda, is a famous Neolithic archaeological site located a few kilometers north of Petra near Siq al-Barid in southern Jordan. It is located within the Petra Archaeological Park and is also included in the zone included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It was once discovered by Diana Kirkbride in 1957, and was later investigated by Brian Byrd. Determined three periods of functioning of the settlement: the period of the Natufian culture in the eleventh millennium BC, the settlement from the pre-Adamic period B (PPNB) with buildings dated to the VII millennium BC. and the Nabataan period, dated to the 1st or 2nd century BC
The most famous is Beidha from the Neolithic period. It is characterized in the oldest layers of a seasonal camp, which has been occupied for a long time. Flint monuments and the location and location of hearths suggested that the inhabitants were migrating periodically hunters. This is also indicated by the lack of permanent buildings, warehouses, burials and large stone tools.
It is believed that the Neolithic scene in Beidha was one of the earliest permanent settlements in this area, dated between 7,200 and 6,500 BC. In the earliest stages of PPNB, the population was estimated at 50 to 115 people. Residents of the settlement constructed stone buildings and a wall around a housing estate consisting of round houses, slightly recessed into the ground. Inhabitants cultivated as one of the first wheat and barley at an early stage of domestication, raised goats and hunted for various wild animals, such as capricornens, and collected wild plants, fruits and nuts. Also, burials sometimes considered ritual were found in the settlement. Traces indicate that the settlement was destroyed by a fire around 6650 BC, and then rebuilt so that rectangular buildings and workshops were created. At the peak of its prosperity, the settlement was inhabited by 125-255 people. Around 6,500 BC the settlement was abandoned again, for unknown reasons. Many items found here come from materials imported from a distance, such as Anatolian obsidian and mother of pearl from the Red Sea. The transition from roundhouses to rectangular buildings shows the important change that has taken place in human societies that could have contributed to the creation of the first cities. A structure derived from the Neolithic Age, which is interpreted as an early temple, has also been identified here.
At-Tafila (arab: الطفيلة), is a city in southern Jordan, located 183 km south-west of Amman. Is the capital of the district. It is famous for its green gardens, where olive and fig trees and vines are grown. At-Tafila was built as a city by the Edomites and was called Tophel then.
There are over 360 natural springs in the Tafilah area, including the natural Dan reservoir and the hot natural springs in Afra and Burbeita. In the vicinity of the city, archaeologists (also Polish) have found traces of human activity since the Paleolithic period. In the city there is a small castle from the Middle Ages, which is currently undergoing a restaurant.
In the Middle Ages, before At-Tafila passed under Muslim rule, for a short time she was under the rule of the Crusaders. The city also played a role in the newest history – January 25, 1918, the Arab forces under the command of T.E. Lawrence and Prince Zeid bin Hussein defeated a 900-foot Turkish detachment near the city.
In At-Tafila there is a Technical University founded in 1986. A team of Polish archaeologists from the Jagiellonian University has been working around the city since 2013.
Sela (Arabic: السلع ,: as-Sala ‘, Greek: πέτρα, Latin: petra) was, according to the Bible, the capital of Edom, situated in a great valley extending from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.
Sela is identified today with the ruins of Sela, located east of At-Tafila in southern Jordan (sometimes referred to as biblical Tophel) and near the town of Bozrah (Buseira).
You enter the site with long, partly natural, and partly carved stairs in the rock. At the top there are relics of stone buildings made of stone and forged in the rock, probably in the times of the Edomites and Nabataeans. On one of the rock walls there is a heavily damaged Neobabonite relief of King Nabonid. In recent years archaeological research in the position was conducted by the Spanish archaeological mission under the direction of prof. Rocio da Riva.
Aqaba (Arab: العقبة, al-‘Aqabah) – a city in southwestern Jordan, the capital of the Aqaba Muhammad, located on the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea), the only seaport of Jordan (Jordan has only 27 km of coastline). The city has a fishing port, airport, road and rail connection with Amman and road with Medina (Saudi Arabia). There is a water sports center and a sea aquarium here.
The most important monuments
- the ruins of a fourth-century Byzantine church discovered in 1998
- Ruins of the Mamluk four-sided fort from the 16th century, 50 meters by 50 meters
- Small archeological museum operating in the former residence of Hussein, the leader of the anti-Turkish Arab uprising after the Aqaba in 1917.
- The collection includes small finds associated with the Nabatean kingdom as well as elements of Chinese ceramics, Iraqi and Egyptian coins and Byzantine reliefs
History of the city
- X century BC – copper smelting center and fishing village
- III – II century BC – captured by Egypt
- 1st century BC – under the rule of the Nabateans known as Aila
- in Roman times, renamed Ailana, was an important city on the route from Damascus to Egypt and Palestine
- after the Umayyads occupied the city, the name Aila was restored and surrounded by fortifications. The city has become an important connecting place for pilgrims to Mecca
- 1024 – city acquired by local tribes
- 1068 – destroyed by an earthquake
- 1116 – captured by crusaders who built on the coastal island (called the pharaoh’s island) fort
- 1170 – Saladyna’s reflection of the city
- 1250 – capture of the city by the Mamluk army. The Mamluk Sultans built a fort within the city
- beginning of the sixteenth century – the city is moving into the sphere of influence of the Ottoman Empire and is losing its importance
- 1917, the Arab insurgents, in cooperation with Lawrence of Arabia, drove the Turkish garrison out of the city
Wadi Feynan or Wadi Faynan (arab: وادي فينان) is an important valley in southern Jordan, located on the border between At-Tafila and Ma’an. It starts in the southern highlands of Jordan, at the confluence of Wadi Dan and Wadi Gweyr, and flows down to the Dead Sea by Wadi Arab.
In the region of this valley there were the largest copper deposits known in the region and easily accessible. They were intensively exploited from the Chalkolith period (4500-3100 BC) to the Mamluk period (1250-1516). There are also many archeological sites important for the prehistory of southern Jordan.
Part of Wadi Feynan is located within the Dana Nature Reserve. The Royal Society for Nature Conservation (RSCN) opened the first ecological hotel in the valley in 2005 – the Feynan Ecolodge.