Jordan and Petra National Geographic Archaeology and History The camels in the Treasury doorway at Petra, Jordan, demonstrate the size of the ancient building's entrance. The Nabataeans constructed this tall edifice into the sandstone hill in the second century A.D.; it most likely began as a temple.
The Treasury contains several large vaults that were used to store valuables such as gold and silver objects. Each vault has three openings: one for people, one for animals, and one with a sliding door that can be opened from outside the structure. The doors were made of wood reinforced with iron bands and fitted with metal fittings and handles. They could weigh over 100 pounds each!
In addition to the vaults, the treasury also contains two large stone sphinxes (one standing and one sitting) that were probably imported from Egypt. There are also some small ivory statues and what may be parts of a four-wheeled cart.
The Nabataeans were an Arab tribe that lived in northern Arabia between 200 B.C. and A.D. 50. They gained control of much of northern Arabia during the first century B.C. After losing their territory to Rome in A.D. 106, the Nabataeans rebelled against the Romans and were eventually defeated.
A massive structure buried beneath the dunes at the Petra World Heritage Site in southern Jordan has been unearthed. The platform was created around the mid-second century BC, when Petra was at its pinnacle, according to surface pottery. The edifice is supposed to have had a ceremonial function. Also known as "The Gateway to Paradise", it is a large, stepped pyramid built of smooth stone and carved with images and symbols. The upper part of the structure reaches about 40 feet (12 m) on each side and provides viewing points from which visitors can enjoy some of the most beautiful vistas in the Middle East.
Petra is best known as a major site for jewelery making. The city was inhabited before it became a trading post by the Nabataeans who created a royal court that included professional artists who decorated buildings with intricate carvings.
After the Nabataean kingdom fell, Petra became a Roman town and remained so until A.D. 642, when Islamic armies invaded the region. They too made Petra their capital until they were defeated by a Syrian ruler who converted to Islam. Thus began the Al-Nasir dynasty, whose rule lasted until 1076, when another army from Syria conquered Petra.
The Crusaders later occupied Jordan and used Petra as a base to attack Muslims living in the region.
Little Petra is an ancient site in Jordan's Ma'an Governorate, north of Petra and the town of Wadi Musa. It is a Nabatean site, like Petra, with houses cut into the sandstone canyon walls. The theatre is cut into the mountainside at the High Place of Sacrifice. This was probably used for religious purposes by the priests of Nebatu, who was probably a local deity.
The first evidence of human activity at Little Petra dates back to 3000 B.C., when hunters camped out here to take advantage of the game living in the canyons. In 250 B.C., it was occupied by the Nabataeans, who were a tribe that lived in Arabia and Syria. They built their cities among the beautiful rock formations around A.D. 100. Little Petra was abandoned after a plague killed most of its inhabitants.
People started to move back into the area around 600 B.C., but Little Petra didn't become popular again until it was discovered by Europeans in 1812. Since then, it has been studied and restored by Jordanian officials. Today, it is one of only four inhabited sites in Jordan. The other three are in Amman.
Little Petra is unique because of the quality of its preserved architecture. There are more than 70 rooms cut into the rock face where people could live without ever seeing another person. Some of these rooms are large enough for several families to live together.
The Nabateans, an Arab Bedouin tribe indigenous to the region in what is now southwestern Jordan, founded Petra as a trade station. They ruled over the city for more than 250 years, until an earthquake in the middle of the fourth century A.D. destroyed much of its buildings. Gold jewelry, in general, will never go out of style because it has left its mark in the business for a lifetime. Gold is a timeless metal that will never lose its prestige or place in the world. It is more attractive and long-lasting than silver metal.
The city was rebuilt about one hundred fifty years later by the Romans. They called it "Petra" which means "rock" in Greek. Under Roman rule, Petra became a major stop on one of the most important roads connecting Egypt with Syria. The city also served as a center for teaching the Bible's message before it was translated into many languages. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Petra fell into decline. In 642 A.D., Muslim Arabs invaded the country and captured it within three years. They used it as a headquarters for raids into Byzantine-controlled territory to the east. Around 930 A.D., the city was liberated by Christian soldiers from across Europe and Africa who had been summoned by King Ma'mun to help repel the Islamic invasion.
Petra survived as a small town until 1838 when it was rediscovered by French explorers. In 1918, British officials occupied the city during World War I and kept it under surveillance after the war ended. In 1975, it was made part of Jordan.