Documentary Film based on Gibson's book: Qur'anic Geography


The Sacred City from Glasshouse Media on Vimeo.
Arriving at Petra
The Walk Into Petra
The Siq
The Small Siq
Street of Facades
Water Works
The Theater
The Royal Tombs
High Place
Colonnade Street
Great Temple
Temple of Al Uzza
Temple of Dushares
The Museum 
The Dier 
Al Habis
Um Al-Biera
Jebal Haroun
City of Board Games
Snake Monument
Sabara Suburb
City Walls/Map
Al Beidha
Al Beidha Village
Kubtha High Place
Wadi Nmeir 
Small Delights
The Bedul
Petra Today 
Petra Park
Elephant drawing
Elephant drawing
The elephant decorations.(See paper on Elephants)

PETRA: The Great Temple
(The Royal Courts?) 

In 1921 an archeologist named Bachman published a survey of the city of Petra, which soon became a standard that was used by archeologists for several decades. On the south side hill of the Colonnade Street Bachman mapped out the ruins of a large building, complete with columns. He named it the Great Temple. And so, the building has always been known as the Great Temple, although more and more historians are wondering if this was actually a temple, or if it was the Nabataean seat of government. (Bachman also described a small theater on the Colonnade Street that no one can find).


From across the wadi


From the Street
 Left: Standing on the forum tiles looking at the front of the Great Temple.




You can visit an interesting web site to view these and other reconstructions of the Great Temple by Chrysanthos Kanellopoulos.
Possible reconstruction of the Great Temple. There are questions about the roof structure. Perhaps it was open in the middle over the theatron, and only roofed and tiled around the outside.


 THe theater



You can read more about the Great Temple's excavations by visiting Dr. Martha Sharp Joukowsky's site at




After hiking through the ruins of Petra, it is always nice to stop at the Theater in the Great Temple to have a rest. This puzzling piece of architecture makes archeologists wonder if this was a temple, or if it was perhaps the senate hall for the Nabataean government.

 Elephant column

Left: Catching a bit of shade under a column. The capital of this column is decorated with elephant heads.


An Archway


 The plaster
 One of the most interesting features of the Great Temple is the well preserved Nabataean plaster on some of the walls. As the picture on the left illustrates, it is possible to see the ancient colors, still bright and visible almost 2000 years later.


A large-scale reconstruction of the entire Great Temple precinct was built by Eileen Vote, a graduate student completing her PhD at Brown University in Interdisciplinary research with Archaeology and Computer Science. This was done in collaboration with archaeologist Martha Sharp Joukowsky and the architectural historian Judith McKenzie. You can view their amazing work at:


The Pools and Gardens


Recent excavations in Petra beside the Great Temple have revealed what used to be a public pool and surrounding gardens. Previously this area was thought to have been a market place, because it was wide and open.

However, when using ground penatrating radar, archeologists discovered the pool. Visit Dr. Leigh-Anne Bedal's site to learn more. (Petra's Lower Market)


Chrysanthos Kanellopoulos, an archaeologist, historical architect and computer imager has a web site with computer generated reconstructions of the garden and pools. You can visit Chrysanthos' site at: To the left is a samples of Chrysanthos' work. The picture to the right is a computer generated reconstructions of the pool and gardens that were located beside the Great Temple.